Online streaming has certainly grown significantly over the past 5 to 6 years. Twitch.TV, and a few others, have not only helped games reach bigger audiences, but also helped the casual and the pro-gamers earn a living. Through subscriptions, donations and just general advertising, playing video games for a living becomes very much a reality for the fortunate few.
A year ago, Meerkat was the breakout hit of SXSW, the annual festival in Austin focusing on the latest trends in media, music and film. Executives were lining up to broadcast live streams via the app and many were touting it as the next big thing. It was seen as the future of how content would be consumed and how brands would interact with their target audiences.
Many music lovers thought it a little sterile sounding. Although the world was wowed by its inky-black inter-track silences, some felt it was still processed and artificial. There were all sorts of explanations, from conventional hi-fi systems not being 'digital-ready' to the fact that most discs were analogue mastered, and thus couldn't get the full benefit of the new technology.
Over recent years we've seen a move away from purchasing music to having access to an always-on supply of all our favourite tracks. Ten years ago we would have bought a CD and shared it between us. Up until now, digital and streamed music has been aimed at the individual and it has been difficult to share it, even with those under the same roof.
When an artist friend of mine shared a news story on his Facebook wall echoing the familiar 'my-song-has-been-played-a-million-times-and-I-earned-nothing' lament of the post-Napster music industry I thought I would ask Spotify directly - just how do artists get paid when their songs are played on Spotify?
Ministry of Sound recently became part of one debate after beginning legal proceedings against Spotify over the protection of our intellectual property. However, notwithstanding our own battle, I'd argue that there are bigger, fundamental questions to ask about Spotify - questions which affect our industry as a whole.