If the Internet Is Global, Why Is Music Still So Regional?

From Digital Music News:

Sure, great music transcends borders. But music apps, for the most part, do not. It’s a strange state of affairs: the web is global in theory, yet in the ‘legit’ digital music world, it’s all about country-by-country restrictions and licensing hangups. Pandora is famously absent from the UK, one of the most important music markets in the world. Spotify took years to cross into the US, and just recently launched in Australia (after starting in 2008). YouTube regularly restricts videos if you’re in the wrong country. Turntable.fm is US-only.

But why do users play along? After all, if there’s any rule-of-thumb in the digital era, it’s that artificial restrictions and impositions routinely get dismantled or circumvented. High-priced tracks are available for free, songs unavailable on Spotify are available on YouTube, unreleased materials get leaked.

Yet, for some reason, users jumped up-and-down when Spotify came to the States; it was almost like it didn’t exist to Americans despite near-ubiquity in Europe. Which suggests that users – on the whole – are happy to circumvent and bypass if it’s incredibly easy, but loathe to jump through any hoops. Which would explain the hyper-success of platforms like Napster, and the erosion of download piracy towards free streaming. And in the case of Spotify, this is a company that is actively enforcing restrictions, prohibiting foreign credit cards, and generally making it difficult to cheat.

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