Looking at the findings of the white paper from Nielsen/Midem on the state of music streaming across European markets I believe the greatest obstacle to the take-up of streaming services is really their lack of general availability. The reality of the stats highlighted in the report is that penetration is low because very few streaming services have been licensed.

We all rely on a kind of social conformity which encourages us to try new things and so the lack of availability is a genuine constraint. This lack of availability is partly down to the difficulty in getting such services licensed, because content owners demand high advances, minimum guarantees and per stream minima. The result is that very high barriers are set for new entrants to the market place.

Contrast the way that handset manufacturers and mobile operators set about building the mobile market. They made it as easy as possible for consumers to get started – pay as you go model, free devices, regular upgrades, the whole momentum was towards growing the market. The net result was that more and more users wanted mobile phones, until their presence became ubiquitous. Mobile operators didn’t set out to charge the highest possible prices to as few users as possible, as that would have stifled the growth of the market.

So, when considering licensing streaming services content owners could consider the example of the development of the mobile market. When they do so, the penetration stats on streaming might start to look more impressive.