Some of us go through life humming tunes as we walk down the sidewalk, or with what amounts to a personal soundtrack always playing in our heads. Others don’t. But no matter the case, music is a big part of the retail world, and is helping to create new harmonies of innovation and disruption.
The first bar of this story should probably include the streaming wars, which involved many major Big Tech players, including Amazon and Apple.
New Partnerships and Services
Apple is having some trouble gaining traction via its service as hardware sales slowdown — another big story in retail — but hopes to put some new energy into its music offering via a new and potentially big duet with the NBA.
Earlier in January, according to Bloomberg, Apple and the most lucrative pro basketball league in the world “announced a partnership that includes an Apple Music playlist featuring independent artists from an emerging label.” The report quoted Jeff Marsilio, the NBA’s senior vice president of new media distribution, as saying, “The Base:Line playlist will have about 40 songs with a hip-hop vibe and will be refreshed weekly.” The NBA exec said the tracks will also be on the organization's website, on its app and featured on social media game highlights.
Although Apple will operate the playlist, a fairly young label called UnitedMasters, founded in 2017, will provide much of the music. That label has taken a relatively fresh approach to getting music to consumers, connecting some 190,000 independent artists to listeners “through direct partnerships with brands,” Bloomberg said.
Apple isn’t the only band on the radio when it comes to changes in music retail in early 2020. Amazon Music represents increasing competition for Apple and others in the streaming world, and that service from the massive eCommerce operator has been steadily gaining in popularity despite only being around since 2016, a full two years after Apple debuted its own music service. The streaming service has passed the 55 million subscriber mark, making it a serious threat to Apple’s service, according to a report by the Financial Times. Amazon’s mark for music streaming matters because last summer, Apple said its service had 60 million subscribers. The No. 1 service is Spotify, which has 113 million paying subscribers and about 248 million users.
But this battle of the bands competition, so to speak, isn’t limited to Amazon, Apple, Spotify and other big players. Relative upstarts are adding their voices to the disjointed chorus, as well. One recent example with potential for significant impact comes from ByteDance’s TikTok. It has been creating a new music streaming offering. To further that goal, it has now struck a licensing deal with Merlin, a worldwide agency that represents numerous artists and independent music labels, in order to use music used legally on its platform wherever the app is available, according to reports.
As all that happens, bands, musicians and event organizers are preparing for the 2020 summer concert and music festival season. And much like sporting events, such entertainment is often the site for advances in retail and its accompanist, payments. As recent PYMNTS research has demonstrated, you can expect more movement on the mobile order-ahead front. While mobile order-ahead was once solely the domain of quick-service restaurants (QSRs) and coffee chains, that is changing more quickly than pop trends these days.
FanFood is one player exploring the expanding mobile order-ahead frontier, offering a mobile app that brings food ordering to sports, concert and other venues that have concession stands. The FanFood app was initially available at just six locations in California, Iowa and Texas, but now caters to more than 60 across the United States. Two of the larger venues it serves are the University of North Carolina’s Kenan Memorial Stadium and Avaya Stadium in San Jose, California, home of the Earthquakes Major League Soccer team.
Music will always be a big part of daily consumer life, and these developments show that music will always be a big agent for change in the world of commerce.