Music News

Streaming vs Physical retailers, what’s actually working?

Photograph of the blog post author, Mary Woodcock

Mary Woodcock


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Streaming sites are a great topic of discussion within the Music Industry since its rise in popularity over the last couple of years. Overtaking Physical retailing in some aspects, streaming is seen as a mainstream way of accessing music and is able to reach a wider and global audience. However, in our countless choices that vary from choosing to stream or sell it physically, what is actually working? And what is worth doing?

Patrick Spence, chief commercial officer of wireless home-speaker ‘Sonos’ recently stated that ‘Apple Music’ and it’s creation has officially made streaming mainstream, reaching into regions that in the past would have been more difficult to connect with, for example China or India, compared to their already available local providers. Well known music streaming services now have the advantage of providing free access to full length songs with no restrictions on how much a member can use them. As an artist or music maker this may be beneficial as it allows consumers to access you in relevant ways and often prompts them to discover musical content through other platforms compared to the streaming service they’re listening to. However, streaming services have been under scrutiny on how much they actually support an artist/band profit wise. It may reach all the these consumers but is it worth doing only?

This is in comparison to physical retailing where back in the 90s and early 00s having something physical to own was more of  a frequent approach. However, in the last year, CD’s are still being bought and aren’t the deterring consumer vehicles as some may assume. For example physical retailers applauded major singer-songwriter Adele’s decision in choosing to withhold her newest album from streaming services. .With 300,000 copies selling after just 24 hours on sale, it played a big role in boosting traditional sales. Despite the share of industry revenues decreasing from 60% in 2011 to 46%  in 2014 physical music sales are still a major revenue source. Physically buying something is known to help consumers emotionally reconnect with the creatives they’re interested in . Although it’s all dependent on how well you know your consumers, how loyal they are to your work and their prefered music consumption, this traditional approach still works. Despite the progressing market, an artist/creative should be confident in the fact that people will be prepared to pay for their  material if what you’re giving is strong enough.


Both methods are helpful to a creatives single, EP or album release. Streaming provides longevity, simplicity and countless opportunities for easier connection. Whilst physical copies provide tangible influence helping consumers feel connected to their favourite artist/band. However, what actually works is all down to the aim of your project. If you want to see prominent evidence, try physical retailing if you haven’t tried it, or try giving digital releases a go if you want your physical retailing budget to take a miss. By making sure your music is on every streaming platform you’re giving yourself a fighting chance that your music will be heard and played to a wider audience. Make sure you utilise every platform that you know will benefit your release which will be a simple and effective way of promoting your music.

You can get your tracks ready and complete for your physical releases and streaming playlists by hiring a producer, mixer or engineer masterer to make the final touches. Alternatively, you can get a PR Company to help you promote your music through Music Gateway – Sign Up Today.

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