Saturday, March 28, 2015

Spotify and the future of streaming music

We talked in class this week about the future of streaming music. Our professor said he thought that the current model--Spotify offering unlimited streaming for free and paying artists only pennies in royalties--is unsustainable, so eventually more streaming sites will offer freemium services or start charging users.

However, I think it this were to happen, then illegal downloading and streaming sites like "Napster" and "Limewire" would be resurrected from their 2010 executions. (Well...actually courts issued injunctions against these companies, so it would be more of a rebirth rather than a ressurection.)

Which would be the worst thing to happen to the music industry. With the file sharing model, artists made $0 on royalties. At least with Spotify, artists--even when Cee Lo Green's "Happy" earned him only a few thousand dollars after several million people streamed the song--are still making some money.

I also feel we unfairly criticize Spotify when YouTube is offering the same service just with an attached video file. And artists are CHOOSING to make their content available on these sites. That means that everyone, save Taylor Swift who pulled her music from Spotify, feel they are benefitting by making their content "free."

Taylor Swift also said in an OpEd in the WSJ:

"Valuable things should be paid for. It’s my opinion that music should not be free, and my prediction is that individual artists and their labels will someday decide what an album’s price point is."

Unfortunately, saying something should be valuable doesn't make it valuable.

Once people start getting any commodity for free, they feel entitled to that resource. It would be unrealistic to expect people to pay for music like they did through the 1990s. It's no secret that Digital has made media content cheaper, and media industries--and record labels--have experienced declining profits ever since. Musicians and producers will inevitably have to accept the decline or invent a new way of listening to music that requires people to purchase physical objects. Sadly, we can't reinvent the record player. 

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