Why I don’t think streaming is that bad…

21 May 2015

Streaming Music - Is it that bad?

Why I think streaming isn’t as bad as everyone says it is….

When I was 16 (almost ten years ago…), I paid for a few albums, maybe a single if I really liked it, but where did I consume most my music? At home, from my computer, listening online. How did my friends consume? Downloaded music from wherever they could, for free.

This might come as a shock but I even paid for a streaming service run by HMV, not sure what happened to that…So, I was an early adopter of streaming, it seemed a legit way on consuming and paying for music at a time when downloading was so widely done.

These days everyone likes a lot of different types of music, no-one only listens to one style, because that would be pretty boring. This is where streaming services have got it right. Spotify has such a vast amount of genres and artists that you can literally listen to whatever you want. On a daily basis, I will listen to a huge amount of different styles, and Spotify, YouTube and Tidal make this possible.

Kids of ten years ago who wanted to consume music this easily wouldn’t have the streaming options that are available today, how would they go about this? Illegally downloading. Back then I’m sure YouTube hosted music and albums, but this again was done without the rights, so technically wasn’t legal either. Thanks to Napster, the idea that free music was okay spurred a generation of kids to just download music instead of paying for it.

Online streaming doesn’t necessarily pay artists their fair whack, and the way they pay isn’t exactly good either, but they now offer an easier option of music consumption which was only possible previously by downloading illegally or having a mass amount of disposable income. If you were to access all the music you wanted to listen to, and didn’t use a streaming service like Spotify, or YouTube, that would be some serious album and back catalogue downloading.

If you were to have all of the music that these streaming services offer, to be able to afford it all, you’d need a lot of time, a massive house and a lot of money, which is why people thought ‘oh, I don’t have to pay for it but I can still own it?’, that’s why illegally downloading was so easy. BUT, now, streaming services make it even easier, they have the music on their servers, it takes up no hard disk space, for the modern user, it’s the easiest way to consume.

So, what am I trying to get across? That these days, people streaming earns money, whether it’s on ad supported or on premium subscriptions, the music is getting paid for. Ten years ago when everyone decided that music wasn’t ‘worth anything’ and they downloaded it for free, no artist nor label earned anything from those downloads, not a penny. So, although the system isn’t perfect, it’s making money that will go to the artists.

Do I think the industry is fair?

Hell no. I mean, yes the system is a better option to downloading illegally, but it’s by no-means a fair system, and artists don’t get the money they ought to. Check out this blog on the way Sony and Spotify deal with money and streaming, it’s an interesting read. Who’s fault is it that artists don’t get paid?!