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The Majority Of Music Streamers Will Come From ‘Emerging Markets’ In Just A Few Years

January 20, 2022

The majority of subscribers on music streaming platforms will come from countries outside of markets like the United States, U.K., and Europe, according to Midia Research's Mark Mulligan. Presenting his findings at the annual NY:LON Connect conference, Mulligan laid out a future where regions like Latin America, Africa, Eastern Europe, the Middle East, Russia, and Asia (minus Japan and South Korea) lead the way in terms of subscription music streamers.

Right now, more "traditional" markets like the U.S. have the most paying music streamers. That's in line with historic trends where countries with a higher GDP have more people able to afford things like music. But as the music scenes in emerging markets continue to grow, so too will subscribers in those markets. Mulligan thinks we'll see the majority of subscribers come from emerging markets by 2026. 

What Emerging Market Music Streamer Growth Means

Mulligan emphasized that it's important to recognize this trend doesn't mean we'll suddenly see an even greater adoption of western music in these markets. In fact, it means just the opposite.

"Think less about, 'Hey, how easy it is going to be for a Canadian label to get their music played in Indonesia?'" Mulligan said. "And instead think about all of those Indonesian artists wanting to be heard in Canada. It's going to act as a catalyst for the exporting of emerging markets' music into the world. Clearly it's already started to happen. That will happen many orders of magnitude over in the coming years."

This is fantastic news for markets that traditionally couldn't support their own scene thanks to a lack of infrastructure. As subscribers in these areas grow, so too will investment from local DSPs and artists determined to make sure there is a thriving local music culture. 

Global Reach Is More Important Than Ever

That said, the new reality of the music industry isn't changing any time soon. Streaming platforms will be the number one vehicle for music consumption, and music streamers will continue to spread their attention out among many platforms, from DSPs to social apps to livestreaming services. 

That means artists have an evolving opportunity to find fans everywhere. Even if the primary focus on emerging music markets is how those scenes can support themselves, more listeners and music subscribers means more globally accessible content has the opportunity to drive more sustainable revenue for artists. 

Whether that's turning a popular short form video into actionable growth on streaming platforms in emerging markets or going live at a time where people across the world can view you, having international eyes is more likely to translate to international fans than ever before. There's a reasonable expectation that you could potentially create long-lasting fan relationships with people you may never actually be able to play a live show in front of, and that's ultimately a positive development. 

More Paying Music Streamers Means More Money (And More Emphasis On Making Sure You Collect It)

If you're located in one of the traditional music markets like the United States or U.K., you likely see the majority of your money come from these markets. But every time somebody listens to you music anywhere across the world, it should be generating some type of revenue. 

However, that doesn't mean you have the right systems in place to make sure you're getting paid. Having a good understanding of platforms like SoundExchange is more important than ever. Having a relationship with a publishing administrator like SongTrust may help you collect money you never knew belonged to you.

Simply being registered with a PRO like ASCAP or BMI doesn't always ensure you're getting the full extent of what you're owed globally. Companies like SongTrust built a business on the promise of collecting more of your international publishing money faster by developing direct relationships with the organizations responsible for collecting that money within those countries. 

It could be the difference between collecting a few hundred dollars from these countries every quarter and collecting a few thousand.

Simply put, more music consumers means a greater need to be vigilant about making sure you're getting paid fairly. 

Distributors Need To Lead The Way

According to Mulligan, while platforms like TikTok and Twitch do exist symbiotically within the larger music industry ecosystem, they also compete directly with streaming services. That's because people scrolling through TikTok for a few hours a day or watching Twitch streams give the entirety of their attention to those platforms. 

And if you're committed to watching TikTok for a few hours, you're probably consuming hundreds of pieces of short-form content and not listening to streaming platforms. Conversely, if you're on Twitch, you're giving much more attention to fewer streamers and likely using their stream as your soundtrack. 

The point being, if distributors want to continue competing for artists and filling in as important components of their team, they'll need to do more than simply play nice with music streaming platforms. 

"More and more music behavior on both supply and demand side is happening outside the traditional streaming market," Mulligan told the NY:LON Connect audience.

"Western music streaming services will probably need to work out how to embrace a bunch of this stuff. Which means that distributors are going to have an even richer and even bigger toolkit necessary in order to cater for these sorts of things."

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