Music Business Research 2015 – in retrospective

Dear readers of the music business research blog,

2015 Music streaming was again the main topic in the music business. In June, Apple Inc. introduced the long rumoured music streaming portal Apple Music to the public. Instead of a freemium tier Apple Music is built around an online radio station – Beats 1 – and enables direct contact between musicians and fans by Artist Connect. Nevertheless, Taylor Swift was not amused. She threatened to withdraw her music catalogue from Apple Music as long as no licensing fees are paid to rights holders in the initial trail period. Apple’s VP of iTunes, Eddy Cue, immediately responded by Twitter to announce that Apple Inc. has changed its mind and “will pay artist for streaming, even during customer’s free trial period”. However, the conflict shows that the discussion on music streaming payments to artists will continue in 2016. An analysis on the blog already addressed that problem – Music Streaming Revisited – the Problem of Income Distribution – and even superstars cannot afford a living from music streaming revenues: Music Streaming Revisited – The Superstars’ Music Streaming Income. It was also highlighted on the blog that the main winners of the music streaming boom are the major recorded music labels which can successfully market their catalogues: Who Benefits from Spotify & Co.?

Before Apple Music was introduced to the public, premium music streaming service Tidal was launched by Jay-Z and 16 further superstars of the music business in March 2015. It remains to be seen if the music fans are prepared to pay a monthly fee of US $19.99 for high fidelity music streaming. The number of subscribers since Tidal’s launch tells a different story.

In November 2015, Google unveiled the first details on YouTube Red. YouTube Red is the successor of Music Key, which never made it out of the beta version. The new streaming service aims to successfully compete with Spotify & Co. 2016 will show if the dreams will come true.

It is striking, however, that all the new music streaming services lack a freemium tier. This nurtures speculations that the end of free music streaming is near what would be applauded by high ranking music industry representatives who regularly clamoured the dismissal of Freemium music streaming models in 2015. It is, however, questionable if a stop of free music streaming is the golden rule for the music business since most of the music streaming markets are not fully developed yet as highlighted in a blog entry: Music Streaming Revisited – the International Music Streaming Market 2014.

Although music streaming seems to stabilize the recorded music markets – see e.g. U.S. and Germany – the first signs of a market consolidations has become visible. The German music streaming pioneer Simfy had to close down and the U.S. based streaming platform rdio went bankrupt in 2015.

Investors, however, do not bet on music streaming services anymore as the panel discussion “Financing Music in the Digital Age” within the 6th Vienna Music Business Research Days highlighted. The international music business research conference that again was held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna in cooperation with Waves Vienna Festival & Conference also addressed the question in a presentation and panel discussion if streaming is a relevant revenue source for opera houses and concert halls. And the economic relevance of crowdfunding for the music business was analysed in a keynote talk too.


In the additional conference track day music business researchers from Australia, Brazil, Germany, the Netherlands, Austria, Spain and Hungary presented their new findings. In the course of the VMBR-Days the best paper of the Young Scholars’ Workshop was awarded for to Abner Pérez of the Universidad de las Americas Quito, Ecuador. His paper is considered for publication in the International Journal of Music Business Research (IJMBR).


Volume 4 of the IJMBR was published with two issues in April and October 2015:

Volume 4, no 2, October 2015

Editorial by Peter Tschmuck, pp. 4-6

Beate Flath: Life is live: Experiencing music in the digital age, pp. 7-26

José María Álvarez Monzoncillo & Juan Calvi: Music consumption in Spain: From analogue to digital in the shaping of music, pp. 27-48

Beatrice Jetto: The evolution of music blogs: From a fan’s passion to a promotional outlet, pp. 49-72


Volume 4, no 1, April 2015 – special issue on the German Music Economy

Editorial by Martin Lücke & Carsten Winter, pp. 4-8

Helmut Scherer & Carsten Winter: Success factors for music-based crowdfunding as a new means of financing music projects, pp. 9-25

Ronny Gey, Frank Schumacher, Stephan Klingner & Bettina Schasse de Araujo: Buried by administration: How the music industry loses its creativity. An empirical study of German music labels and publishers, pp. 26-54

David-Emil Wickström, Martin Lücke & Anita Jóri: The higher education of musicians and music industry workers in Germany, pp. 55-88


In the next section you can find a list of all theses & papers which were added to the blog in 2015:

Grünewald, Lorenz, 2013, Non-monetäre Wertschöpfung in Musiknetzwerken. Eine qualitative Untersuchung der Tauschbeziehungen Musikschaffender. Masterthesis, Institut für Journalistik und Kommunikationsforschung, Hochschule für Musik, Theater und Medien Hannover.

Szevitits Amanda, 2015, Public Relations remastered. Wie moderne PR im Bereich der Musik aussehen muss, damit sie den Möglichkeiten von Social Media gerecht wird. Master Thesis, Music Management Program at the Danube University Krems. 


The following studies, reports and working papers with a music business/industry focus were published in 2015:

Aguiar Luis, Waldfogel Joel, 2015, Streaming Reaches Flood Stage: Does Spotify Stimulate or Depress Music Sales?, NBER Working Paper No. W21653

Bacache Maya, Marc Bourreau, François Moreau, 2015, Cheating and 360-Degree Contracts in the Recorded Music Industry, Université Telecom ParisTech Working Paper, February 2015.

Blacc Aloe, Irina D. Manta and David S. Olson, 2015, A Sustainable Music Industry for the 21st Century, Hofstra Univ. Legal Studies Research Paper No. 2015-18.

Boyer Marcel, 2015, The Value of Copyrights in Recorded Music: Terrestrial Radio and Beyond, C.D. Howe Institute Commentary No. 419, February 18, 2015.

Handke Christian, Balazs Bodo, Joan-Josep Vallbé, 2015, Going means trouble and staying makes it double: the value of licensing recorded music online, Journal of Cultural Economics Open Access, 22 May 2015.

Hiller Scott, Jason Walter, 2015, No Longer Durable? The Rise of Streaming Music and Implications for the Bundled Album, Working Paper Fairfield University – Department of Economics.

Mauch Matthias, Robert M. MacCallum , Mark Levy and Armand M. Leroi, 2015, The Evolution of Popular Music. USA 1960–2010, Royal Society Open Science, 2: 150081, April 2015.

Rethink Music, 2015, Fair Music. Transparency and Payment Flows in the Music Industry. Report of Rethink Music and Berklee Institute for Creative Entrepreneurship.

Richardson, James H., 2015, The Spotify Paradox: How the Creation of a Compulsory License Scheme for Streaming On-Demand Music Services Can Save the Music Industry, UCLA School of Law Working Paper.

Trefzger Timm, Matthias Rose , Christian Baccarella and Kai-Ingo Voigt, 2015, Streaming Killed the Download Star! How the Business Model of Streaming Services Revolutionizes Music Distribution, Journal of Organizational Advancement, Strategic and Institutional Studies, Vol. VII, No. 1, 2015.

US Copyright Office, Copyright and the Music Market Place. A Report of the Register of Copyrights, February 2015.



Music business/industry books published in 2015:

Gordon, Robert, 2015, Respect Yourself: Stax Records and the Soul Explosion. New York etc.: Bloomsbury.

Miller, Franz, 2015, Die mp3-Story: Eine deutsche Erfolgsgeschichte. München. Carl Hanser Verlag.

Mulligan, Mark, 2015, Awakening. The Music Industry in the Digital Age. MIDiA Research.

Ripgen Johannes, 2015, Organisches Artist Development. Ein ganzheitliches Modell zur identitätsorientierten Künstlerentwicklung. Band 2 der Schriftenreihe “Musik und Wirtschaft” der Popakademie Baden-Württemberg, Baden-Baden: Nomos.

Seabrook, John, 2015, The Song Machine. Inside the Hit Factory. New York: W. W. Norton & Company.

Westbrooks, Logan H., 2015, The Anatomy of the Music Industry: How the Game Was & How the Game Has Changed. Los Angeles: Ascent Book Publishing.

Witt, Stephen, 2015, How Music Got Free: The End of an Industry, the Turn of the Century, and the Patient Zero of Piracy. Viking.


Finally, I would like to thank 40,951 visitors of the blog for 74,147 visits in 2015 – 203 visits per day. Most of the visitors came from the US, UK, Germany, Australia, Canada, France and Austria, but also from the Netherlands, Italy, Spain, India, Brazil, Norway, Poland, Sweden, Belgium, South Korea, Ireland and Japan. Except a few African states, Iran, Turkmenia, Surinam, Bhutan, Afghanistan and North Korea, visitors from all countries of the world has browsed the music business research blog in 2015.


The top-10 most visited blog entries in 2015:

  1. The Recorded Music Market in der US, 2000-2013 with 6,216 visits
  2. Music Streaming Revisited – The Superstars’ Music Streaming Income with 5,183 visits
  3. The Recession in the Music Industry – a Cause Analysis with 4,381 visits
  4. Is Streaming the Next Big Thing? – The Business Models of Music Streaming Services with 3,865 visits
  5. Money from Music – a study on musicians’ revenue in the U.S. with 3,702 visits
  6. The Recorded Music Market in the US, 2000-2014 with 2,044 visits
  7. Is Streaming the Next Big Thing? – An International Market Analysis with 1,838 visits
  8. Is Streaming the Next Big Thing? – What Consumers Want with 1,521 visits
  9. Music Streaming Revisited – the International Music Streaming Market 2014 with 1,435 visits
  10. Introducing our guests: Keith Harris, manager of Stevie Wonder with 927 visits


To sum up, all articles and sites on the blog has been visited 286,110 times since March 2010 when I posted the first blogpost. Thus, the blog hit the 286,000 mark in 2015 with your support – thank you! Please come back all in 2016 to read e.g. about 7th Vienna Music Business Research Days on “Self-Management in the Music Business” (conference call and call-for-papers for the Young Scholars’ Workshop) that will be held at the University of Music and Performing Arts Vienna from September 27-29, 2016 – again in cooperation with Waves Vienna Festival & Conference. The fifth volume of the International Journal of Music Business Research will be published issues in spring and autumn 2016. And as usual you will find new blog entries on music business/industry topics, book reviews, conference announcements and updates of the several databases.

Hope I see you all again on the blog in 2016. Best wishes and a successful New Year,




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