Streaming music is killing stereo system sales

55% of Americans listen to music through laptop speakers.

March 11, 2016

It’s no secret that technology has made a huge effect on the music industry: sales have been decimated by file sharing while the number of options for consuming music have skyrocketed. However, it seems that there may be another musical casualty of new-tech. Studies and reports from within the industry are suggesting that the demand for external stereo systems is plummeting.

Digital Music News reported that wireless audio company Sonos announcing a number of layoffs as the company refocusses on the growing number of consumers that prefer to spend up to $300 on high-end headphones rather than similar amounts on similar fidelity speakers.

While it would seem logical that the two would go hand-in-hand, it’s become clear that due to a preference for mobility and flexibility, many users that appreciate high quality sound are sticking to headphones that can go where they do. And although a correlation hasn’t been proven, this decline in loudspeaker and component systems is occurring alongside a massive surge in music streaming. With its cross-platform nature, it’s logical that the mobility of headphones remains more attractive to a number of users.

Another surprising (and honestly, super depressing) fact unearthed by studies is that headphones aren’t the most used method of listening to music – not by a long shot. That honour goes to computer speakers, the majority of which today are frequency-challenged laptop speakers. Even more demoralizing to the musicians and engineers that slave over recordings would be the news that TV speakersand worse yet, mobile device speakers are both more popular with listeners than component systems.

David Watkins, the director of Connected Home Devices at Strategy Analytics, the research firm that conducted the study, blames the focus in the past 10 years on convenience over quality and a new breed of music fans who, as a result, don’t know any better. 

[quote]“Music’s focus over the past decade has been about usability and convenience – being able to get it on as many devices as possible – whilst sound quality has been largely ignored or forgotten in this race to portability,” Watkins said. “It’s bred a generation of listeners who’ve never really known what it’s like to listen to high quality sound and, consequently, is already sounding the death knell for the likes of the hi-fi system.”[/quote]

[h/t Digital Music News]

Exclusive videos, interviews, contests & more.

sign up for the a.side newsletter

sign up