Beliebing in streaming: Record bosses now hope that online streaming could become a big enough business to arrest their industry’s long decline

At the headquarters of Pandora, an online-radio firm, in Oakland, about a dozen headphone-clad analysts fill in a long questionnaire as they listen. They rank whether a song’s mood is “joyful” or “hostile”, the vocalist “breathy” or “gravelly”. They note whether they can hear electric guitars, lutes or bagpipes. Their ratings help to shape algorithms that push music to the service’s 76m users.Pandora is in the vanguard of a revolution in which ever more consumers are streaming music over the internet to their smartphones or computers, instead of owning collections of songs. For the first time since Apple popularised the paid download in 2003, the record business is changing key again. From wax cylinders via vinyl, cassettes and CDs to MP3s, it is undergoing another format shift — maybe, some in the business muse, its last. see:I have a stream: The land of Abba takes to streaming
“We think the whole world will look like Sweden,” says Daniel Ek, the 31-year-old boss of Spotify, a streaming service headquartered in Stockholm. The world’s music executives hope Mr Ek is correct. They have been sending delegations there to study how Sweden pulled off its musical makeover. Between 2008 and 2013 the turnover of the country’s recorded-music market rose by around 27%, to SKr991m ($155m). Streaming now makes up more than 70% of revenues.Spotify’s launch in 2008 was vital in Sweden’s movement from diminuendo to crescendo. Sweden was early to have fast broadband. At first this facilitated piracy (The Pirate Bay, a site used for illegal file-sharing, started in Stockholm), but later it helped streaming to gain momentum. Bundling of services was instrumental too. Spotify offered free trials with Telia, a local mobile operator, which encouraged a lot of consumers to give it a go. A 2009 anti-piracy law probably nudged some to switch from illegal downloading. Because Sweden is a rich country, monthly subscriptions are easier to peddle to the masses.

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