Having tracked Neil Young's project Pono for some time, and reading recently Jay-Z's investment goals for Aspiro it didn't surprise me to read the results of an audio quality survey between Pono and iTunes.
I recall similar conversations with the team at Beats in the early years. While there was a clear desire to create a differentiated product positioning, the reality was simple. They simply didn't sound better to the average ear. They looked cool to many, and it was purely about fashion.
Not that studio level production isn't important for creators, it's just that the story lives in the studio and not in the real world. Add high quality streaming bandwidth to the equation and the proposition get's more complex. Of course, that will balance out over time, but the fact is that the average punter just can't tell the difference. So, the one thing that will dominate is price. And of course, free is always better than paid.