Recently there has been coverage of Sony Music CEO, Rob Stringer, making comments on the current state of play for music streaming. As hi-res audio is an area we cover in our Audio Software & IP Service, I thought that this highlights some interesting discussion. Stringer suggests that most streaming services are “watered down by low-quality and meaningless volume”. This can be interpreted in a few ways. I believe Stringer is making reference to the oversaturation of low-quality streaming services. Despite this, there has been a surge towards offering hi-res audio for consumers.
Qubuz and Tidal were early adopters of hi-res audio. To name a few, Apple Music and Amazon Music are new players in the hi-res segment.
YouTube Music and Spotify continue to offer cheap, low-quality (in comparison to hi-res) music streaming. Reverting to Stringer’s comments, this underpins the issue. Consumers will opt for affordable streaming services which means the hi-res services have a slower adoption rate. Although there are a few variables to consider—such as whether or not the user’s devices will be compatible with hi-res audio, if not a lower tier streaming service will do—streaming services not offering hi-res audio in some ways do an injustice to the artists as the audio isn’t the best quality possible.
Spotify understands the demand for its type of service, hence why pricing has not suffered any substantial increase since its inception in 2006. It relies on volume over quality, again looping back to Stringer’s earlier comments.
SAR has just published its latest BRIEF on its Audio Software & IP Ecosystem Service. It includes high-level coverage of Bluetooth codecs such as LE Audio/LC3, 3D audio, and hi-res audio. You can gain access here.