Free Streaming Is Eating Into Digital Music Sales


The operators of free music streaming services such as Imeem regularly claim their sites give people the chance to listen to a song before they buy it, and if people like what they’re hearing they’ll eventually purchase it.

That certainly doesn’t seem to be the case for the most-streamed song on Imeem for the past two weeks: Lenka’s The Show.

The song, which hasn’t in recent memory appeared on iTunes 100 most-downloaded songs list, only sold 129,532 digital copies since it was released last October. But over the past 10 months, since the track first became available for streaming on imeem, it has been played more than 3 million times. While we don’t know how many people are streaming the song (Imeem doesn’t break out that figure), if the same number of people who downloaded the song are streaming it, they would each have to have played it 23.2 times (You’d think they’d just buy it at that point).

Regardless, the song is thriving on Imeem, where content providers get a cut of the ad revenues, and it’s not doing nearly as well on iTunes, where Lenka and her label (Sony’s Epic Records) get a cut of each 99-cent download.

We understand the willingness to just stream a song instead of buying it: it’s a recession and we’re cheap. But if the music labels start to think users of Imeem and other streaming services aren’t becoming buyers, it could set the stage for a battle to change the way they share those revenues.

To hear what all of the fuss is about, we’ve embedded “The Show” below.


The Show – Lenka

Business Insider Emails & Alerts

Site highlights each day to your inbox.

Follow Business Insider Australia on Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, and Instagram.