The music business has changed dramatically in the last couple of decades since the massive expansion of the internet, the development of music file compression algorithms, and the concept of anonymous file-sharing services. The business has perhaps been slow to respond to the technological change having attempted, often through the law, to try and stem the tide of illicit file sharing with scant regard for the fact that those who use such systems to obtain digital goods, such as music, are now entrenched and rather reluctant to go back to the old model of paying for those goods.
However, the emergence of on-demand streaming services has taken some of those users who felt some degree of guilt and given them an offering that, while not as lucrative as the original models of physical sales, offers an alternative revenue stream that is absent with what might be thought of as that conventional non-demand streaming service, the radio. Of course, users are keen to get as much from a streaming service as they can for free. The job of the services' marketing departments is to convert those free streamers into subscribers.
US researchers have surveyed hundreds of music streaming users and found that social influence primarily affects a consumer's attitude towards music streaming. This, in turn, drives their purchase intention, or otherwise. In contrast, the user's simple hedonic performance expectancy seems to push those who already subscribe to maintain their subscription. Fundamentally, the music industry must begin to understand what is driving different types of user and to respond to their needs in a way that they never have before if they are to survive and thrive.
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Charlie C. Chen et al. Converting music streaming free users to paid subscribers: social influence or hedonic performance, International Journal of Electronic Business (2018). DOI: 10.1504/IJEB.2018.094870