Mobile music revenues will be $429.3m this year, rising to $1.68bn by 2016, according to new forecasts published by eMarketer.
The company claims that ‘ad-supported’ services will account for 68.7% of those 2012 revenues, with subscription-based services providing 17.2% and download stores 14.1%.
There are huge caveats on these forecasts though, not least the fact that the subscription predictions only include services that are “exclusive to mobile devices” and exclude those that are “accessed via multiple platforms”.
eMarketer itself mentions Spotify as an example of a subscription service, yet by that definition it’s excluded from the company’s figures.
At a time when two thirds of iTunes Store purchases happen on iOS devices rather than computers – this according to Apple’s Eddy Cue at the recent iPhone 5 launch – and when people’s decision to pay $9.99 a month for a streaming service is based mostly (but not entirely) on mobile access, the idea of nailing down ‘mobile’ music revenues is increasingly futile.
There are significant mobile-only digital music services, such as Muve Music in the US, and potentially Nokia’s Mix Radio globally. Pandora splits out mobile versus desktop advertising revenues in its financial results too.
But given the rarity of finding a single-platform digital music service nowadays – as well as the receding value of ringtones for the music industry – perhaps it’s time to stop thinking of mobile music as its own digital silo.