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商业 - 传媒与文化

音乐不要钱会怎么样

Dan Mitchell 2013年02月01日

音乐采用流媒体形式播放时给艺术家带来的收益非常之少。业内人士披露,就算音乐流播放一百万次,产生的收益可能也只有几千美元,甚至更少。就算如此,发烧友还是不满意,大家都想免费下载音乐。如果这样,音乐行业未来怎么赢利?

    周二, 流媒体音乐服务商Pandora公司的股价出现下跌。韦德布什证券(Wedbush Securities)分析师迈克尔•帕切特将其“跑赢大盘”评级下调为“中性”。之后,这家音乐流媒体服务公司更是一蹶不振。周三上午,它的股价出现小幅回升。有报道称苹果公司(Apple)即将推出音乐流媒体服务,帕切特提到Pandora面临着这方面的竞争。他指出这只是该公司面临的“逆风”之一。

    而Pandora和整个音乐行业所面临的最强逆风乃是录制音乐市场价格的持续下降——不管价钱是由用户支付还是由广告商支付。无论音乐以什么方式实现交付,一个铁的事实是,数量越来越多的用户不再希望为音乐付费,或者说,至少是不希望花费太多。广告费率处于非常低的水平,尤其是在人们越来越青睐流媒体音乐的移动平台。

    因此,流媒体用户受到了挤压,而唱片公司和艺术家也是一样。《纽约时报》(The New York Times)的本•西萨里奥周一撰文探讨了这样一种现象,即当音乐进行流播放时,除了最受欢迎的艺术家以外,其他人从中获得的收益非常之少。即使音乐流播放一百万次,产生的收益可能也只有几千美元,甚至更少。在周二发表的后续博客文章中,西萨里奥提出了一个重大、而且至今仍然悬而未决的问题:人们还会继续希望拥有自己的音乐吗?或者未来就在于流媒体这个伟大的“天国点唱机”(celestial jukebox)?问题的答案将帮助确定音乐行业能够预期获得哪种类型的收益。而且,这还没有考虑音乐行业周边的很多法律问题,比如如何针对不同的流媒体用户和广播电台(包括网络和线下的)制定版税税率。

    一些观察人士指出,上世纪80年代CD问世的时候,艺术家们同样受到了挤压。CD被看成是特种产品,在一开始的时候,艺术家只能从CD销售中获得相对较少(如果有的话)的收益。CD迅速成为最受青睐的音乐格式后,一切都改变了,而音乐行业也出现复兴,并在上世纪90年代末达到了顶峰。乐观的人认为,这个行业的这段历史也会因为在线音乐再次重演。

    Shares of Pandora fell on Tuesday and stayed down after Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pachter downgraded the music-streamer's stock from "outperform" to "neutral." Shares were recovering slightly on Wednesday morning. Pachter cited competition from Apple's reportedly forthcoming music-streaming service. That was just one of the "headwinds" facing Pandora, he noted.

    But the strongest headwind facing not only Pandora (P) but the entire music business is the continued fall of the market price of recorded music, whether that price is paid by listeners or by advertisers. No matter which type of delivery, the hard fact is that a growing segment of the audience no longer expects to pay for music, or at least expects to not pay much. Ad rates, particularly on the mobile platforms that people increasingly favor for streaming music, are in the basement.

    So the streamers are squeezed, but so are the music labels and the artists. The New York Times' Ben Sisario on Monday examined how little all but the most popular artists earn when their music is streamed. Even a million listens might yield just a few thousand dollars or less. In a followup blog post on Tuesday, Sisario noted a big, so-far-unanswered question: Will people continue to want to own their own music, or does the future lie in streaming -- the great "celestial jukebox?" The answer will help determine what kinds of revenues the industry can expect to earn. And that doesn't even take into account the many legal questions surrounding the music industry, such as how to set royalty rates for the various kinds of streamers and radio outfits (both on the Internet and off).

    Some observers note that artists were similarly squeezed when CDs came along in the '80s. CDs were considered specialty products, and at first, artists got relatively little, if any, money from their sale. That all changed as CDs quickly became the favored format, and the music business saw a renaissance that peaked in the late '90s. The same thing will happen with online music, the optimists argue.

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