Music Streaming: A Musician’s Best Friend Or Worst Enemy?

Is the music streaming service, Spotify, actually helping out artists in this new age of technology? Or is it actually detrimental to their careers?

It is no secret that digital technology has changed the ways in which we live our lives. One of them that is extremely evident is shown in the concept of music distribution in the form of music streaming in this day and age.

The dawn of the Napster era and file-sharing in the late 1990’s brought out a sense of entitlement among users, especially since people had found a way to download and procure copyrighted content without paying for them. Because of this, the industry took a massive hit in terms of music distribution, as record labels became unable to meet their sales requirements and began closing down.

Nowadays, artists rely on streaming services for their music distribution. Spotify, in particular, hosts the music of approximately 2 million artists around the world, making it a premier choice for music streaming since its founding in Sweden in 2008.

However, even with their massive number of musicians that have allowed their music to be featured on this platform, many believe that Spotify is actually detrimental to their respective careers and the industry as a whole. Big names such as Thom Yorke and Taylor Swift had both pulled their music from the streaming service as of 2013 and 2014 respectively, citing that they are not being fairly compensated for their work. Swift did end up bringing her music back to Spotify in 2017 and has actively been part of Apple music.

Spotify’s payment system is based on the number of times a song is streamed, which costs between $0.0038 for unsigned artists and $0.0044 for signed artists. This is also dependent on whether the song that is being streamed is supported by an ad, or is being played by a premium user.

In their defense, Spotify has claimed that they are actually paying out 70% of their revenue back to the music industry. The artists, on the other hand, say they are not feeling the outpour of this supposed income, since they only get a tiny share of it, while their respective record labels get the bigger chunk.

Although the payout is still questionable if it’s helping artists and there are musicians disgruntled about this new trend in music distribution, there are also those that are thankful for it. For Ben Berry of the Detroit-based duo Moke Hill, Spotify brought his band from sheer obscurity to receiving a decent amount of recognition.

“As for Moke Hill, we’ve spent next to nothing to get our songs on Spotify and it has exposed us to tens of thousands of people around the world who never would have heard our music otherwise,” Berry wrote in a 2014 column for Wired.com. “Spotify is not only paying us but building our fan base while paying us, which will eventually make it easier to sell tickets to shows.”

This has been the case for many up and coming artists as they have seen more publicity after being featured on one of Spotify’s playlists that are pushed to streamers. Although it may not be bringing in the revenue they are looking for it can certainly be a game changer in growth of the artists therefore giving them a bigger platform to gain an audience.

While the consumption of it may have dramatically changed, music, no matter what genre, will never go out of style, and will always have a large following. The industry is evidently no longer as booming as it was two decades ago, but songs and records are still being purchased through Spotify and other platforms.
Ultimately, it is all about having a symbiotic relationship between listeners and artists. Fans should at the very least have the decency to procure music through legal means, and artists will just have to accept and adapt to change.

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