As the digital revolution continues to enforce widespread changes on the music industry, the CEO of the Australian Recording Industry Association, Dan Rosen, is adamant that they can evolve with the times. In particular ARIA plans to jump onto the streaming bandwagon that has emerged over 2012. Not only is an official ARIA streaming chart in the making, but an endorsed Spotify app is on the way too.

Inspired by the the UK’s Official Charts Company launching their own streaming chart in early May, after recognising an increasing shift to listeners accessing music digitally. ARIA will soon followed suit to collate date from the huge influx of streaming services here in Australia. Not just Spotify but Rdio, Deezer, JB Hi-Fi NOW and Mog as well, all which launched in 2012 into what has become a competitive market.

Despite the various services tussling to be the top digital music service, Rosen says that their work with these local streaming services “is a very co-operative process,” taking time out of his busy schedule to sit down with Tone Deaf and discuss the future of music. 

Tone Deaf: How has the progress been on putting the ARIA streaming chart together?

Dan Rosen: We are working with each of the various music streaming services that have entered the local market to acquire the data necessary to produce a weekly ARIA Streaming Chart. This is not a simple process, but one which the streaming services have been extremely helpful with and we look forward to launching before the end of the year.

TD: An ARIA app for Spotify is also in development. Have you thought about developing for other services? Or partnering with them? 

DR: We are extremely excited about the launch of an ARIA Charts App on Spotify where music fans will be able to countdown and listen to the ARIA Charts each week. This is certainly an initiative we would look at exploring with other streaming services if the right opportunity arose.

Niv Novak, Managing Director for SONOS – a company that focuses on developing affordable high-end wireless speakers, designed to work in conjunction with digital music and streaming services – has unequivocally said that they “believe all audio content is going to be streamed in the future.”

A bold statement, but give that physical sales are on a much reported decline, with many making the shift on line, the future of the music landscape is littered with both great opportunities and difficult questions. How will music be charted? Will there still be a place for physical formats? Rosen is diplomatic about the future of both physical and digital formats.

TD: Do you agree that streaming is the future of music?

DR: The advent of streaming services is an exciting development for our industry and one which we are very proud of as the music industry continues to lead the way in embracing new business models for the digital age. However with physical products such as CDs and vinyl still making up over 50% of the market and digital downloads accounting for the majority of digital revenue, it is too early to say whether streaming will be the future of music.

TD: Is it a question of consumer choice?

DR: The most encouraging outcome of the various streaming services entering the market is the amount of choice Australian music fans now have when it comes to consuming music. They can go to their local record store and browse through aisles of CDs and vinyl, download music from the convenience of their home or workplace or stream music on-the-go.

There has never been a better time to be a music fan in terms of ease of access and range of options to get the music you love.

TD: Moves to introduce an ARIA streaming chart reflect the rising popularity with streaming services and digital distribution; and in the UK recently, digital sales outstripped physical sales for the first time ever. Do you think there is a future for music in a physical format?

DR: There will always be a place for music in the physical format, as many music fans still enjoy and want the tangible experience of entering a record store, talking to an expert and leaving with a physical product they can hold in their hands, show their friends and generally have a physical connection with the product.

TD: If you accept there is an inevitable decline in physical sales, how will that affect ARIA’s traditional charts system? Ie. A measurement based on the shipping of units.

DR: ARIA Charts have continued to evolve over time with the advent of digital music and it will be no different with streaming services. We will start with a stand-alone Streaming chart before eventually integrating those figures into the broader singles chart.

Tracking what’s actually being paid for is all well and good, but there’s still the vast amount of music that’s illegally shared and downloaded in the digital realm. Music piracy has remained a hot topic in the headlines since what seems like forever, but Rosen is positive about the ease and accessibility of streaming services in helping stem the pirates’ tide. 

While other nation’s record industry bodies are taking severe measures to enforce copyright laws – including the Recording Industry Association of New Zealand’s ‘three strike’ policy to the Recording Industry Association of Japan applauding the new hardline laws that severely punish individuals – ARIA is instead encouraging the promotion of popular streaming services instead of going cutthroat to the lawbreakers (just yet).

TD: Streaming music is obviously providing ways to reduce music piracy. What are you views on this aspect of streaming services? Do you think it can help reduce – or even eliminate it?

DR: Streaming services will certainly assist with reducing music piracy. There never was any moral justification for stealing an artists work, but with almost all music now being available for free or at a low cost, there is no justification for any music fan to use a pirate sites where money doesn’t go to the artist and label.

These services show the music industry is doing all we can to provide new ways for people to access music. To eliminate piracy though we still need urgent assistance from Government and ISPs to help protect our artists rights online, so that our creative industries can continue to survive and indeed grow, so we may enjoy their creative works for generations to come.

How relevant will ARIA be in the future though? Will the increasing switch to digital consumption of music reduce ARIA’s prominence in the Australian music industry? With the industry constantly having to adapt to an online centred world, Rosen was quick to point out that ARIA will evolve with the times as it has done before – and will continue to do.

TD: If streaming IS the future of music, where do you see ARIA’s position in 10, 20 years time?

DR: ARIA will still be as relevant then, as it is now. Streaming is merely the latest evolution in how people consume recorded music – from the phonograph, to vinyl, cassettes, CDs, through to digital downloads and now streaming.

The ARIA Charts reflect what music Australians are consuming regardless of the format. As we incorporate streaming figures into our weekly charts, the ARIA Charts will continue to remain the official and quintessential guide to what music Australians are consuming right now.

A #1 single or album on the ARIA Chart is still regarded as the highest accolade, along with an ARIA Award, that an artist can achieve in this country.

TD: Will ARIA continue to provide the same services that it has previously?

DR: We will continue to recognise and celebrate the best in Australian music each year at our annual ARIA Awards. Last year’s 25th anniversary Awards, were one of our best yet and heralded a new era of ARIA, with our first fully digital and social Awards.

The Awards screened on digital channel GO!, fans were able to watch a live stream on their mobile of all the backstage as a second-screen element to the broadcast, ARIA hosted a world-first Google hangout from the red carpet and the Awards accounted for 9 of the top 10 trending topics on Twitter on the night of the event. And this year is shaping up to be even better!

As an industry body, ARIA will continue to work hard to promote and protect the rights of recording artists and labels both in Australia and overseas.

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