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Music Streaming Revenue Growth Expected to Fall to 3% by 2029, Says MIDiA Research

In a presentation at the Music Biz conference, the firm's Tatiana Cirisano said services like Spotify will lose "cultural capital" against competitors like TikTok.

In a presentation at the Music Biz conference in Nashville on Wednesday (May 17), MIDiA Research’s Tatiana Cirisano revealed the company’s predictions about the future of music streaming. Namely, the firm suspects that music streaming revenue growth, which has been in the double digits for years, will slow to the single digits, eventually cooling off from about 10% growth in 2024 to 3% growth in 2029.

“We’re in a crazy time for competing for consumer attention,” said Cirisano during the presentation, titled Where Does Streaming Go From Here? She noted that after the pandemic subsided, content providers of all kinds — from music to gaming to video — have had to accept that more traditional, in-person activities are absorbing large amounts of time for consumers once again. “The era of build it and they will come is starting to come to a close,” she continued. “You need to give people reasons to spend time on your platform.”


As part of the return to in-person experiences, MIDiA Research has found that background consumption of entertainment is on the rise, with 18.1 hours of background consumption in the first quarter of 2021 having escalated to 20.6 hours in the second quarter of 2022.

Traditional streaming services — Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and other competitors — also face competition for users’ attention from “non-[digital service provider] streaming,” or platforms where music is part of the experience but not its sole focus, such as Peloton and TikTok. “We are starting to learn that non-DSP streaming is not just additive, it might actually also diminish the cultural capital of [traditional] streaming,” said Cirisano.

While the cultural capital of streaming reached a fever pitch as Spotify editorial playlists, like Rap Caviar and New Music Friday, became many listener’s go-to source for music suggestions, MIDiA’s data suggests that that “soft power” is starting to wane, giving way to sites like TikTok which promote what Cirisano called “lean-through” music consumption.

This can be a positive thing, she explained. While “lean back,” or background, consumption — such as pre-programmed playlists and radio play — is on the rise, young people are also more likely than ever to not just “lean forward” (meaning they program what music they listen to themselves) but to “lean through,” which Cirisano defined as creating social content, curating content and re-creating content with music. MIDiA has found that the average 16 to 19-year-old spends 3.7 hours per week creating content as of the fourth quarter of 2022. More than ever, young people want to be actively playful and interactive with their music, not just listen to static playlists on streaming — though that form of listening will still surely persist.

To Mark Mulligan, MIDiA’s founder, this is a repeat of history, said Cirisano. Prior to recorded music, live bands’ music would be impacted by the audience in front of them. Now, this has taken on a new form in the age of social media, AI and at-home recording technology, signaling a return to interactivity present throughout the long history of music — and marking a change in appetite from the “isolating” and “hyper-personalized” nature of today’s popular music streaming services. “This new generation wants to be more actively involved in music… I think you’re going to have an advantage if you’re an artist that is comfortable engaging with your fans,” said Cirisano.

MIDiA Research has also found that with the emergence of hyper-personalized algorithms on streaming and social platforms, listenership fragments significantly. This leads to superstars having less of an impact, making it harder for that class of artists to earn a fruitful living from just streaming alone. In tandem with creating content and forging brand partnerships, however, these bigger names can capitalize on their fandom. This atomization of the mainstream is also pushing DSPs to differentiate themselves by, for example, focusing on genre, like Apple Music Classical, or targeting audiophile listeners, like Tidal.

In the future, MIDiA’s data suggests that next-generation platforms will create three-sided marketplaces that operate as self-contained virtuous circles. Audiences will consume music, some fans in the audience will also create using the music, and that consumption and participation will signal the algorithm and distribute the music to new fans.

UPDATE: This story was updated May 17 at 7:59 p.m. ET to note that music streaming revenue growth — not music streaming subscription growth, as incorrectly stated in a previous version of the story — is expected to fall to 3% by 2029. It was also updated to note that background consumption of all entertainment, not just music, is on the rise.