Is music streaming a zero sum business or does a rising tide lift all boats? That’s the question many will be asking later this year when HDtracks makes the jump from hi-res downloads to hi-res streaming, powered by MQA and 7Digital, to compete with Tidal’s selection of similarly MQA-encapsulated ‘Masters’.
Among other things, MQA allows for hi-res audio streaming but at a lower bitrate and, as reported by StockMarketWire.com, 7 Digital will “will handle app development, host the music catalogue on its platform and deliver tracks to consumers.” The HDmusicStream service is expected to launch in the second half of this year.
Pricing information is still to be announced. Ditto catalogue size. What we do know is there exists the potential for the catalogue to be reasonably broad since Sony Music Group and Merlin (who represent numerous indie labels) joined Universal Music and Warner Music Group as MQA signees last month.
For those in a speculative mood, we might imagine HDmusicStream as everything currently sitting on HDtracks’ website for sale as a download but made available to stream instead. How much would you pay per month?
From their FAQ: “Due to agreements with our member labels, there are certain restrictions on which territories we are allowed to sell certain content to. However, every day we are adding more territories to our agreements, so if you are able to see and order our content, then you may download it!”
Perhaps HDmusicStream will be made available to a broader range of territories. It’s hard to see how it will compete with Tidal if it isn’t. Or maybe competing with Tidal isn’t the intent.
Whatever the intent and specifics, there’s no denying that Team MQA are on a roll right now and that the music download business is gradually being eaten alive by streaming, even in the hi-res space.