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Streaming the answer to flagging Welsh music sales

Streaming is the future if record companies are going to reverse the decline in Welsh language music sales, according to research carried jointly out at the School of Creative Studies and Media and Business School.

The research, which was carried out in collaboration with Sain Records Ltd, will see the launch of a new international download and streaming service for Welsh music.

Steffan Thomas, who carried out the research at Bangor University, also stresses the importance of engaging with an international audience on social media to sell Welsh music beyond the country’s borders.

“It was an opportunity to step back from the music industry in order to take a new look at how consumers and producers can work together to create a sustainable future and reverse the decline,” he said.

“When talking about music and the wider media industry, reference is made to 'digital', however it's worth noting for the time being that 60% of the whole music industry remains in CD sales.

“Downloads are in decline and streaming services are rising. However streaming remains a challenge for both consumers and producers.

“Streaming doesn’t always represent value for money for consumers, and for producers the revenue from streaming is not adequate to support the production process.”

The research was challenged to find a pathway for music distribution that gives consumers the products and service they desire, whilst simultaneously providing producers with the remuneration that they need.

KESS funding provided both Steffan Thomas and Sain with the support needed to conduct the research and make changes to support the businesses’ growth and development.

Dafydd Roberts, Sain’s Executive Director said: “every company needs to carry out research and development in order to adapt its products, marketing and sales techniques for the changing needs of the customer.
“Forming a partnership with Bangor University through the KESS enabled us to plan and adapt for the fast technological changes in the music industry.

“Knowing that we had the resources of the University gave us the confidence to act on the findings of the research.”
Due to the research, Sain is now in the development stages of a new streaming program to provide the service and products their consumers demand, at a price point that they are willing to pay; leading to a sustainable business process.

There will also be a new App for marketing new products and events. Consumer research has indicated that 34.7% of Sain’s consumers are currently either streaming or wanting to stream music, indicating that this is an emerging market for niche music.

Steffan Thomas said: “KESS has allowed me to work with external companies for digital distribution and aggregation, as well as research and disseminate knowledge in France, America, Sweden and the Czech Republic.

“Sain is now positioned to lead the digital growth of music in Wales.”

The research was supported by Dr Eben Muse, Stephen Jones and Dr Gareth Griffiths of Bangor University and Dafydd Roberts of Sain Ltd.

Steffan's research scholarship is funded under the Knowledge Economy Skills Scholarships (KESS) Programme. KESS is a major European Convergence programme led by Bangor University on behalf of the HE sector in Wales. KESS is part-funded by the Welsh Government’s European Social Fund (ESF) Convergence programme for West Wales and the Valleys, KESS supports collaborative research projects (Research Masters and PhD) with external partners based in the Convergence area of Wales (West Wales and the Valleys).  Both the Research Masters and PhD elements are integrated with a high-level skills training programme, leading to a Postgraduate Skills Development Award. KESS will run until 2014 and will provide 400+ PhD and Masters places across Wales.

Publication date: 18 August 2014