The Future of Music: Downloading Vs Streaming

future of music
Image Credit: Blackenterprise

Music. It can be soothing, hardcore or anything that has come to describe it with the different genres and sub-genres that keep cropping up every day. Music is so old that it originates from the times even before Jesus was born to the world. As a means of entertainment or communication music can define anything. Music always accompanied such fateful events and filled peoples’ heart in all the above described situations. Music is the reason why Michael Jackson was the undisputed king of pop, why we love Beyonce. And it’s amongst the reasons why you sing along when John Legend sings. The die had young generation fanatics will try me for treason if I don’t mention Justin Beiber. Did I forget Cold play and Lady Antebellum.

The bands, individuals, industry executive, choreographers and so many people associated with the industry have had an impact on our daily lives. Be it the dance moves that you saw off MTV and the chaos that has come to describe many artistes. It’s all music. But what’s the future of this Industry?

It’s a multi-billion dollar industry seeing a lot of millionaires. The artists that take up  microphones, sing to beats and rake in millions from their fans especially through album sales, concerts and merchandise. Musicians are strong brands some more powerful and influential than politicians. So once they say Beyonce topped the list of most influential people on mother earth, don’t dare raise your hand to question that. Sorry folks the politicians, legislation & just enacting laws doesn’t garner you large followings like these peeps.


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Like earlier mentioned, album sales, concerts & sale of merchandise are the breadwinners of these musicians and now streaming has added its self to this list. Those Album sales are dwindling owing to increased streaming from music peers. First it was the vinyl, cassettes then the CDs all which faced demise with the introduction of digital formats especially with iTunes led revolution. This put a dent to sales physical music media like CDs. Recently downloads too came head to head with streaming the former facing serious competition from the latter. It’s a story of music downloads Vs streams consider it as iTunes Vs the likes of Spotify, Deezer, My ZiKi, TuneIn Radio, Pandora and the list is endless. It even prompted Apple to launch a similar service dubbed iTunes Radio to compete favourably at this front which critics say hasn’t taken off. So you are seeing some serious answers as to why Apple bought Beats.

future of music streaming

At least I can say downloads are the preferred choice within Kampala circles unlike for music lovers in the West that are seeing a transition from ordinary downloads to just renting through streaming. We do downloads and a small fraction of the population does streaming. A small fraction because they are indeed small as the data charges are high for an average Ugandan which actually restricts would be streamers. Even with increased efforts by telcos to lure us to subscribe to their data packages, it’s still expensive for most Ugandans to go online.


Sites like Waptrick, Turbidy, Wapdam and also torrents sites are so popular here in Uganda as they offer free downloads not only limited to popular music but a large catalog of music genres ranging from local to international hits. We wrote an editorial focused on torrents and download behavior in Uganda some time back, perhaps that would make an interesting read, now. Downloads are free because the Ugandan populous are hard to let a penny out of their pockets to purchase digital music and pirates are envious to see money flowing only in one direction as they also want a share. Music sharing & piracy have become norms, may be due to the vulnerabilities in regulations.


Some don’t even know what streaming is. And for those well versed with what streaming actually is, know the price tag attached as it’s expensive and it drains ones data bundle within seconds. It’s really for the few that go online. Streaming come with its merits. You don’t have to encroach on your devices space. Files are hosted by the provider and you only stream. Free for Ads supported services Ads free paid subscriptions for as low as $10 for a full month compared to $0.99 or more per download. Economics does better here. For a rough $10 dollar monthly subscription, you can stream an entire library hosted by the service provider as compared per download from the very library. This means extra costs which the end users are most likely not to welcome. So in my opinion streaming wins and is the clear future of the music industry.

  • This is an interesting. I think you’ve touched on the surface without unearthing the real roots. So I hope you’ve part 2 on this.

    I expected the issue of piracy and copyright to come up which am hoping could dwell on a little more. I would to know if local artists are making any money off digital music inform of CD sales or downloads from music stores like iTunes or MyZiki here.

    On digital music distribution, you state that streaming is the way to go for the reasons listed yet you also list its challenges here that’s bandwidth. So what’s the most viable means of distributing music while fighting piracy or ….are we screwed?!

    • Thanks for the observation but adaptation of digital trends comes with its shortcomings like piracy as you’ve mentioned. I cited sites like waptrick that have kept this trend at the helm, and the music available is not only limited to foreign but local music too. But as for distribution, tight legislation and enforcement could be the answers we’re looking for.
      I cannot break down monetization of music on those digital stores as their numbers are not readily available and such music is mainly supported by our brothers in the diaspora. Physical copies still rule down here but i believe it’s poised to change in the near future.