The UK’s latest mobile radio program, Bloom.fm, is a beautifully crafted streaming service that allows you to “borrow” songs and store them on your mobile device to play off-line. Bloom.fm is what happens when your library, Last.fm, and Spotify gets together to make sweet sweet music – they’re really really into bees and flowers.
The app is beautiful – stunning even. The simple graphics and great interface can make music discovery a joy. With an expanding catalog of 17 million tracks, Bloom can potentially pioneer music monetization out of the dark ages of piracy. It’s unclear how much users are willing to pay for subscription services, but Bloom’s economic strategy will rest on its ability to assess the value of music ownership in our digital age of music consumption. Are users willing to pay £10 a month to access any song at any time? I am.
The current system of paid subscription music streaming does not work. If Bloom can assure that artists are fairly paid, then music lovers will flock to the service. Bloom could lead music monetization with financial transparency and equitable payouts, but it’s not their burden to carry alone. Once the app is released in the US (there are a lot of complicated copyright issues with music and national borders), it will have to compete with popular subscription based services like Spotify and Last.fm. Fierce competition will make their profitability more difficult. As of now, Spotify does not have full disclosure of financial payouts to artists, but a fair and transparent model for music payment can lure listeners who love music and the artists that creates them.