Ben Thompson: Niches and the Problem with Subscription Services

Ben Thompson has some pretty straightforward advice for Zoë Keating:

So there’s your answer, Zoë: tell YouTube to take a hike.

Thompson has plenty to say on working with a niche market, which many musicians (and almost all classical and jazz musicians) do. It comes down to much the same thing that I’ve been saying, and his thinking is similar:1

[T]he vast majority of niches—particularly for rock-and-roll cello players—were economically unviable before the Internet drastically reduced the cost of both production and distribution. In other words, there is nothing to “build on top of.” Spotify and YouTube Music Key and other all-you-can-eat services are ultimately suited for music that is broadly appealing—the same sort of music that has ruled the radio for decades. For anything truly different, though, anything with a limited but intensely interested audience, they are nothing but a bad idea—a way to both limit your audience and limit the amount of money you can make from your best fans.


  1. Thompson is razor-sharp, and his insight into the business world is invaluable. If his thinking is similar to mine, it’s because I’ve built my ideas on top of his.