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Vinyl’s, transistor radios, 8-track tapes, Walkman’s, CD’s, MP3 players and iPods all had their day, but a new giant has consumed the music industry: streaming.
Anyone with internet access can now stream their favorite music from their phones, computers, TV’s and many other electronic devices.
If someone wants to listen offline, they pay a relatively cheap subscription fee and can then do so.
While there are a wide variety of streaming services to choose from, Spotify and Apple music lead the pack.
Nielsen research firm reported that in 2016, streaming was up by 76.4 percent compared to the previous year. On the other hand, traditional CD album sales went down 16.3 percent, and digital track sales went down 25 percent.
This divide has been growing wider and wider over the past few years.
Now, CD’s and vinyl’s are for collectors and music enthusiasts. MP3 players are growing extinct, and it is no wonder why. Cellphones come with more storage than ever before, but even that does not matter as much now.
With streaming online, access to millions of songs is really just limited to your Wi-fi or data plan.
However, there remains a fixed point of controversy amidst the battle of streaming versus buying.
Streaming music pays the musical artists far less than purchasing does. Each stream is a fraction of a penny, and this has the music industry grieving.
For example, if a new album has 10 songs, and a fan listened to all the songs on the album 10 times each, that means 100 streams. On most streaming services including Spotify, that would not even equal out to a dollar.
On the other hand, if the album were purchased for a standard amount, that would instantly equal out to 10 dollars.
Purchasing instantly gives more back to the artist, while streaming gives less back over a longer period of time.
Despite this, streaming offers something to music fans that traditional means of purchasing music does not bring. The opportunity for discovery opens up.
When millions of songs are on instant access at the tap of a finger, finding new artists to listen to is not a grievous chore.
Streaming services heavily promote discovery playlists and new artists.
Playlists are now doing what the radio has served to do for so long. NF’s song “Let You Down” was released in September of 2017 when he had under two million monthly listeners on Spotify.
In a statement from Daniel Breitholtz, Spotify’s Nordic head of shows and editorial, he said that NF’s single was catapulted to success through it being initially added to playlists in the Nordic Territory.
It jumped from playlist to playlist until it eventually landed on the Billboard Hot 100.
As a result, NF now holds close to 20 million monthly listeners on Spotify.
With streaming being geared towards this, it is also essential for every new artist to have their music ready to stream.
That is how the majority of fans are consuming music now. Beyond this advantage in streaming, a recent decision from the U.S. Copyright Royalty Board, which governs all royalty policies in the U.S., has momentarily settled the controversy surrounding unfair low pay rates from streaming services.
The new decision requires streaming services to pay artists and their music publishers 15 percent of their revenue from the music, as opposed to the former 10 percent.
With more reforms like this to the business side of the music industry, the ever growing streaming world may become as much the preferred option to artists as it is to fans now.