Business: Here comes the sun [The Economist]
If someone were to compose a song to capture the music industry’s experience over the past decade, it would be a long, mournful ballad. In 2014 the tune is going to change. In the coming year the music industry will grow—modestly, but cheeringly. A turnaround is under way at last.
The internet has always been the enemy of music executives, facilitating piracy, denting CD sales and encouraging people to download single songs instead of buying them by the dozen. But it will give executives something to sing about in 2014. Subscription services such as Spotify and Deezer, which allow users to stream music for a monthly fee or in exchange for listening to advertisements, will add listeners. So will online-radio services like Pandora and iTunes Radio. And more digital-music firms will be launched. They will strike deals with new artists, or buy exclusive rights to star singers’ songs, to differentiate their music libraries from those of competitors.
The spread of smartphones and unlimited-data plans will make these portable music services more attractive to listeners.