This Canadian streaming music service thinks it can win with niche

With U.S. audio-only streaming up 74% in the first half of 2015, streaming is clearly cemented as the undeniable future of music consumption. The question remains what that future will look like.

Big names like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer and Rdio create most of the headlines but the truth is those services cater to the mainstream Top 40 market, and other large genres like Rock & R&B. According to Forbes, “there are plenty of genres that simply don’t win out, unless they are separated and given their own space. The same idea has been used with every business that touches the music world. There are specialized radio stations, blogs, magazines, and record stores (or, there were).”

This leaves a lot of sizeable genres like Jazz, Christian, Classical and Country out of the limelight with limited merchandising space in these mainstream apps. For artists who are c,ompensated based on their “share of plays” across the entire service, being lost in the merchandising mix is a concern.

A new contender has entered the streaming race, and it’s coming from two unlikely sources: Christian Music and Canada.

A new contender has entered the streaming race, and it’s coming from two unlikely sources: Christian Music and Canada. While some may be familiar with the volume of Christian and gospel music – 1.66 billion albums, singles, music videos, and digital tracks were sold in 2012 alone – it’s a market largely untapped by the streaming world.

“It’s really hard to find Christian content [on streaming services],” Stephen Relph, co-founder and CEO of TheOverflow, told BetKit. TheOverflow is a Toronto-based music subscription service that’s targeting Christian consumers by offering a catalog and experience unavailable by larger competitors like Spotify, and more recently, Apple Music.

TheOverflow is the world’s first Christian on-demand music streaming service, and it’s also Canada’s only home-grown subscription streaming service. This laser focus on a niche market allows for a carefully curated streaming option that is catered to specific tastes and lifestyle.

Price is always a concern with streaming content, and the TheOverflow’s niche market allows it to charge $4.99 per month, half of the $9.99 per month typical of other services. TheOverflow also contains the features you’d expect from a streaming service, with iOS & Android mobile apps, offline listening, and curated playlists.

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TheOverflow says that licensing deals with all major and indie labels are complete – a significant barrier to entry for would-be competitors.

“Over half of the Christian/Gospel consumer base is active in the streaming space,” Greg Bays, executive vice president at Capital Christian Music Distribution (Universal Music USA), told BetaKit. “And, historically, about 20 percent of the U.S. Christian/Gospel consumer base listens exclusively Christian/Gospel, and does not actively engage with other genres.”

Beyond Christian music, the promise of niche services like TheOverflow is a new business model servicing fans of other lesser-exposed genres such as metal, classical, and country music.

TheOverflow launched earlier this year with funding by Angel investors, but is looking to close a seed funding round from Canadian & US investors to accelerate growth. “As Canadians located in a smaller market, thinking globally to achieve scale comes naturally,” Relph said. “That’s why we started in the U.S. first. We’re excited to better serve the needs of Christian consumers, wherever they are.”

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys

Douglas Soltys is the Editor-in-Chief of BetaKit and founder of BetaKit Incorporated. He has worked for a few failed companies and written about many more. He spends too much time on the Internet.

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