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Music’s Streaming Gold Rush Is a Global Game: Roll Up (Guest Column)

"We are entering a time where breaking in America is no longer the primary goal or the definitive sign that an artist has made it."

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The music business is entering a golden age thanks to a streaming boom that’s growing exponentially in real-time. This is remarkable because, just 15 years ago, the industry was nearly in shambles, scrambling to recover from a loss of $10 billion in revenue and more than 71,000 abolished music industry jobs in the U.S. alone. With the rise of file-sharing sites such as LimeWire and Napster came rampant piracy, which caused a dramatic decline in physical music revenues that not even the rise of digital sales on platforms like iTunes could cushion.

But in recent years, Spotify and Apple Music have been making serious headway in launching new initiatives and opening new markets worth tens of billions of dollars and it is changing the music business as we know it. It’s time to capitalize on this moment and go global!

We need to be thinking of new, creative ways to seize the incredible opportunity globalized streaming is offering and help grow the music industry. With Spotify available in 79 countries, there’s no reason for us not to be expanding our artists into each and every one of these territories, especially when a country like India — which saw Spotify launch officially yesterday — could potentially generate more than $430 million of subscription revenue. We are entering a time where breaking in America is no longer the primary goal or the definitive sign that an artist has made it.

Ariana Grande didn’t break streaming records by focusing her attention on the U.S. only. Her most popular cities on Spotify are London, Mexico City, Los Angeles, Chicago and Quezon City in the Phillipines. Superstar producer and DJ Diplo is another example of an American artist who has tapped into international markets. Whether under his nom de plume, Silk City, L.S.D., or Major Lazer, Diplo focuses his tours and marketing efforts across the globe. His most popular cities include Mexico City, Paris, London and Amsterdam — a long way from Tupelo, Mississippi, where he was born.

Artists from New York and Los Angeles can’t afford to be complacent. American artists need to work with European, Asian, Latin American, and other international creatives to make global hits (look no further than “Despacito,” a chart-topper with roots in Puerto Rico, Colombia, Atlanta and Canada). And music managers and entrepreneurs must come together to build better, multi-territorial music companies and partnerships. We should be working to capture new and emerging markets, to bring our stars there and theirs here. To sit on the sidelines is unacceptable.

In fact, you could say globalization is already here. With the launch of Spotify’s Global Cultures Initiative in October 2018, along with their recent entry into India and plans to launch in a dozen more countries, music is reaching an audience that’s young, engaged and growing. There’s a hunger for music today. According to a 2018 Goldman Sachs report, the 13 to 34 demographic in the United States spends more money on music than any other age group. They are the driving force behind the industry’s resurgence, and also its future.

We are on the precipice of something huge. Streaming has already pulled the music business out of the rut that it was in for the better part of a decade, but globalization will generate rewards that could put us on equal footing with the film and video game industries. However, we can only get to this point if we all agree to expand our horizons and look beyond the realm of immediate possibilities.

Nick Jarjour is a manager at Maverick and an A&R executive for Atlantic Records. Follow him on Twitter at @NickJarjour and on Instagram