Photo from beyondthestagemagazine.com
By Matthew Haid
Streaming is currently the most popular form of receiving media.
Technology has always moved towards making things more accessible and cheaper for the consumer. For music, it started with vinyl, moving over to cassettes and CDs. The early 2000s were dominated by file sharing mp3s on websites like Napster or Limewire. It is no surprise that the primary form of music consumption has shifted to streaming outlets like that of Spotify or Apple Music.
There is no denying that streaming is the way of the future. With a small monthly fee, one has access to the entirety of the company’s music library without having to download or purchase each piece of music separately. However, the problem with streaming is not the convenience but with how streaming services pay the artists whose music they are profiting from.
Spotify made $2.18b in revenue last year alone, yet the artists are only paid $0.006 to $0.0084 for each play the artist receives. Taking that into account, the only artists who would benefit from this type of method would be the mega hits and world famous pop stars.
By paying these artists per “hit” they receive, newer artists become stifled and ignored because the bigger hits will receive more attention and dominate emerging acts.
Notable artists like Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift have openly spoken against Spotify, with Yorke calling it the “last fart of a decaying corpse.” Swift even pulled her entire catalog off of the service. While more established, popular artists have the financial freedom to opt out of the service, it is tough for artists who looking to be heard to say no.
However, the popularity of Spotify and other similar streaming services cannot be ignored. A majority of listeners use streaming services to listen to their music, so it does not give artists much of a choice on whether or not they would like to use it.
Another concern over streaming is on whether or not it can be profitable. In a sense, the invention of subscribing to a streaming service could be seen as the industry’s attempt to combat file-sharing and have people pay for their music again. But, Spotify has yet to show any profit and instead continues to turn over its losses, with a recent loss of over $170 million in 2015.
Whether or not streaming will become or already is the de facto source for music consumption can be debated. What really needs to be discussed further is how artists can be properly compensated for their creative work when it comes to streaming their content.