Consumer magazine circulation and advertising continue to spiral down, with notable exceptions at the top of the market and in a handful of key genres, triggering ever greater revenue diversification and innovation The market is fundamentally over-supplied and the gap between successful portfolios and the glut of secondary titles is growing. Furthermore, the distribution and retail supply chain hang by a thread There are some encouraging signs. Publishers are evolving, with their strategies and leadership capabilities increasingly defined by the needs of the industry they serve rather than the publishing brands they exploit, bringing the consumer model closer to more thoroughbred B2B models
Spotify is investing heavily in podcasting through acquisitions, original content and product innovation
It is under pressure to reduce dependence on record labels, whose power makes generating large profit margins difficult. Podcasts promise a non-music content genre where Spotify can capture more value
Secondary benefits abound: Spotify can take an active and lucrative role in modernising online audio advertising, it can solve the podcast discovery problem, and engagement across more forms of audio will improve retention
Recorded music revenues in Japan are stuck in decline as physical sales sag, although 2017 marks the first year when streaming gained a foothold with 8 million subscribers.
J-pop fans spend on 'experiences' with their idols including events, merchandise, CDs and DVDs, which streaming cannot replicate. Top native LINE MUSIC offers integration with a popular messaging app and bundling with mobile.
Serving international repertoire, Apple Music claims more subscribers than Spotify in Japan, which is more localised, and has most users on the free tier. Amazon Prime Music is a looming constraint on the adoption of subscriptions.
Audiobooks are growing fast, driven by smartphone adoption and better supply, as well as interest from people who don’t usually buy books, such as young men
The sector is dominated by the presence of Audible, Amazon’s audiobook publisher/retailer, which has driven growth of audiobooks but put publishers under pressure. Its strategy is a lesson in Amazon’s approach to media
Audio is an opportunity to sell to new customers, but publishers must acquire and use rights responsibly, and experiment while not letting the audio tail wag the print dog
The decline in demand in print presents trading challenges, but the more immediate pressures are on the supply side, with a 15% rise in paper prices accentuating the burden of production and distribution costs
With digital advertising growing at stubbornly low rates, UK publishers need to return to their fundamental consumer-centred strengths by switching their strategic attention towards strong brands, curation, and community
The case for specialist, branded publishing media remains robust: products, services, and consumers are still best brought together in an authoritative, trusted media environment. Advertisers and agencies (and also media) have undervalued the effectiveness of those environments, and direct-to-consumer opportunities have been exaggerated by many brands
Spotify is now the world’s first publicly listed on-demand music streaming service. Its global footprint generated €4 billion in 2017 from over 70 million paying subscribers and 90 million ad-funded users across 65 countries
As it expands, the service is steadily but surely moving ever closer to profitability, with a 2019 operating profit a very real prospect
So far and for the near future, Spotify’s global pre-eminence versus competition from Apple, Amazon and Google proves remarkably resilient. Plans to build upon its differentiating features will become ever more decisive as the tech titans will continue to wield their resources and ecosystems against the comparatively undiversified company