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What I'm listening to now, courtesy of LastFm

Quora Answer : Music: Is dying? If so, why?

Feb 2, 2015

If it is dying (and I haven't seen any statistics for or against this theory), it's probably because it's a good idea without a sustainable business model behind it.

What does, it does well. But it's not clear how they can make money from that. If investors don't believe that they'll be able to make a shed-load of money down the line, they aren't going to keep pumping money for upgrades to the site or service.

Spotify managed to grab the niche of "online commercial radio, paid by advertising". And presumably have the size to cut deals with the labels and advertisers. It's implausible that lastfm can beat Facebook's network effects to become a more popular social networking service. All the artists have official fan-pages on FB already. Unofficial fan-groups can self-organize and flourish on FB faster than lastfm can attract them.

"Recommendation engine" isn't a real business. Apart from in start-up founders' fantasies people don't really want to pay to "discover new music". People who actively like and are passionate about music discover it for themselves. And people who aren't capable of doing that, probably don't care enough to pay for recommendations. So, a recommendation engine inevitably ends up having to take advertising. At which point, adverts pollute the recommendations, driving away people who would otherwise use the service.

In general there is less money in music, shared between more and more bands. Lastfm could potentially become a label or A&R company based on their database of people's tastes and frequency of plays. But I don't suppose that that would make them internet-size profits of the kind that the founders were hoping for.

So yeah, I'd assume that unless they discover some kind of radically new business model the site will eventually die.