Streaming: Will Physical Products Go the Way of Music?
02 Jul 2015

Listening to music used to take time and work, used to be an experience in and of itself. Now, it’s in our ears in an instant and causing more controversy than ever – and not regarding its content, but rather the way it is reaching its listeners. Streaming is the leading listening method these days, and music streaming services Spotify, Tidal, and Apple Music are at the center of this controversial landscape, with Swift taking Apple’s side, Jay-Z owning Tidal, and Daft Punk falling somewhere in between.

simplified music

Now, instead of purchasing a single physical record from a manufacturing company making millions of copies, users can digitally buy music and movies. Services like itunes offer individual new release songs, albums, movies and tv shows, while spotify and netflix offer monthly access to music and movies.

Music Streaming Gets Competitive

Spotify entered the market with a bang and established itself as one of the first and most prominent music streaming services with millions of tracks and millions of users. Perhaps the most unique characteristic of Spotify is its free option; neither Tidal nor Apple Music offer a version of their services for free.

Then, on November 3rd of last year, Taylor Swift pulled all of her work from Spotify – and the world reacted. Now, Swift will stream her music on Apple Music when it debuts June 30 (after a strongly worded letter demanding Apple pay artists during their free 3-month user trials). Apparently, a contract with Apple Music means labels, publishers, and other music owners will receive around 73% of revenues from its streaming service.

Tidal seems to be the most exclusive of all, allowing users access to new material and artist content and providing no free trial. Though it boasts to be the most artist-friendly, as it is owned by Jay-Z and managed by other artists.

Tidal-Daft Punk

Wondering where Daft Punk comes in? Well, Daft Punk initially joined Tidal (as shown at the launch event above) with hope for revolutionary changes in clean energy - a miscommunication between Jay-Z’s talk of “change” and Daft Punk’s love for hydropower and “tidal energy.” However, when the duo realised Tidal was little more than a music streaming service, they quickly backed out of their contract...odd, we know.

Physical Products

We’ve seen the music & movies industries embrace streaming in an attempt to evolve with the digital age, but could we be seeing the same with manufacturing in the next few years? Many seem to think so.

Recent developments in the world of 3d printing have fostered the growth of the “digital download and print” phenomenon, where consumers can purchase a 3d design and 3d print it at a printing location nearest them. However, the issue with this now is similar to that of music - purchasing the design/song versus purchasing access to the design/song. How do companies accomplish design streaming?

One company, Authentise, seems to have provided a solution. Their 3D Design Stream API allows users to purchase a 3d printable design directly from the website and the file is directly streamed to the printer. Thus, the user never actually owns the design file, but rather purchases a physical product by paying for a 3d design to stream to a printer. Plus, artists retain the authenticity of their design through consumers’ temporary access to it.


Instead of companies making thousands (if not millions) of products for consumer purchase only to let the unsold products go to waste, companies are specialising in the product streaming process. If you manufacture products individually and only after they are purchased, there is no waste, and ultimately this kind of on-demand manufacturing is much better for the environment, as well as everyone’s purses!

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