Photo courtesy Digital Trends 

Streaming apps are one of the most popular ways for music lovers to enjoy their favorite artists. Services like Spotify and Pandora are changing the face of the music industry, and they will play a key role in its future development. These are just some of the ways you can expect to see music streaming evolve over the next few years.

Greater Access to More Music

Many music streaming apps have exclusivity on certain artists and releases, and if your favorite band is only available to stream on an app that isn’t available in your country, then you’re out of luck. Fortunately, there are signs this may change in the future.

With Netflix being made available around the world, there is a significant possibility music streaming apps will go the same route. Services like Spotify are slowly expanding globally, and we may see more geo-exclusive apps like Amazon Prime Music and Pandora become more openly accessible around the world. In the meantime, Virtual Private Networks (VPN) such as Buffered VPN may remain a fallback for those seeking to access geo-restricted content.

Better Sound Quality 

One of the major ways streaming apps compete is by aiming to offer higher-quality sound than their peers. The release of JAY Z’s Tidal offered users lossless, high-resolution audio while Apple Music is currently working on providing users with the ability to stream 24-bit/96kHz music, which goes far beyond the 16-bit sound of CDs. It is much closer to the kind of sound you would get from original studio masters, allowing you to experience music as artists, producers and engineers originally intended.

Audiophiles are still debating whether or not they would notice the difference between 16-bit and 24-bit sound in everyday use on their smartphones. However, higher-quality sound will certainly be more of a selling point for music streaming apps in the future.

Innovations in Hardware

The new focus on sound quality in mobile apps goes hand-in-hand with the introduction of new hardware innovations. Last year, Aivvy introduced Q headphones that are fully equipped to stream music on their own without the use of a mobile device. We are sure to see more hardware that is optimized for streaming music in the future.

Additionally, headphone and speaker manufacturers will certainly aim to capitalize on the fact that music streaming apps are offering higher-quality sound. One of the most prominent examples is Deezer Elite, which offers high-fidelity streaming that is only available on Sonos wireless hi-fi speakers. Many other audio hardware companies continue to boast about the ability of their products to cater to users who prefer streaming high-definition music, so we will see plenty more competition in this arena.

Paid Subscriptions Becoming the Norm?

There was a time when internet users resented having to spend money on downloaded music. During the days of Napster and Limewire, it was generally accepted that music made available online should be downloaded for free in all instances. It has taken years for this perception to subside, and there are now over 68 million people around the world who pay for music streaming subscriptions.

Streaming Will Overtake Paid Downloads 

In 2015, the revenue of paid downloads ($2.32 billion) exceeded music streaming revenue ($1.6 billion) by just 10 percent while there was a huge disparity between the number of total streams (317.2 billion) versus the total number of paid downloads (1.07 billion). Single downloads dropped by 14.9 percent while album downloads dropped by 7 percent. Into the future, these declines are expected to continue as the popularity of streaming continues to surge. We will soon start to see music streaming overtake paid downloads in terms of both sales and popularity.

Streaming Will Help Digital Music Overtake Physical Album Sales

A recent report by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) showed digital music sales have surpassed physical music formats for the first time. Digital revenue from streaming, subscriptions and downloads accounted for 45 percent of music sales in 2015 while physical formats like records and CDs accounted for 39 percent. Thanks to the increase of streaming, the music industry has seen its first rise in revenue since 1995.

The world of music streaming continues to evolve rapidly. With such evolution, you can expect to see some big changes for these apps in the future.

Editor's Note: Caroline Black is a music blogger and self-confessed technophile. She writes for Culture Coverage and Secure Thoughts and is always looking for new and exciting ways to experience her favorite bands and artists.