Monday 22 December 2014

Digital dominance

Niall Byrne

Published 14/12/2012 | 18:00

When Spotify is a regular topic of conversation with parents, uncles, aunties and relatives, you know the music streaming service is onto something. And why not?

Twenty-two million tracks, practically all of the recorded music of note you could want, all waiting for you to press play.

While my dad was raving about being able to listen to the entire Joe Bonamassa catalogue, my 24-year-old sister was less enthusiastic. She's a pop-loving girl who wouldn't have bought a huge amount of music over the years. She liked Spotify but wanted to have her music on her phone. When I explained it would cost her €9.99 a month to do so, she balked: "That's €120 a year, I'm not paying that!"

So, while Spotify does suggest the best way in which people like my sister will listen to music in future, getting them to pay for it will prove much more difficult. But 2013 will be the year that Spotify and Deezer try to convince people on a grand scale to do exactly that.

With all the talk of streaming services, it's easy to forget that iTunes is the biggest provider of digital sales with its download store.

It's also surprising that iTunes isn't available in every country worldwide.

In fact, it only just launched in 56 countries including Russia, India and South Africa last week. These delays are largely down to sorting out licensing issues, which vary in each country. iTunes is now available in 119 countries.

More pertinent news to those who already have iTunes, Apple released version 11 of the program last week, which gave the interface a much-needed overhaul.

Gone are the Excel-spreadsheet style lists of artists and albums and instead, there's a much more pleasant and cleanly designed library with more imagery and artist info.

There's also a greater emphasis on recommendations and a tighter integration of the iTunes Store. As someone who uses iTunes every day, it was about time it was brought up to speed with the offerings of the hip new streaming services.

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