That photo up above is credited towards Saving Country Music, although we’ll be getting to them in a bit.
Streaming is a polarizing topic in the music industry, and it’s one that keeps getting bigger. We keep feeding the elephant in the room lots of sweets and goodies (making him grow larger) so to say. Anyway, the beginning of today’s discussion is linked towards this article from NPR, more importantly the effects of streaming and how it affects the industry, artists, and fans.
Today, a streaming service such as Spotify has 50 million subscribers (according to that article), including yours truly. I myself pay for Spotify premium, and I have to say I’m quite happy with it. I’m a music nerd, and now that I have my own platform to express these thoughts, I want to be sure I can hear all of the artists out there. This isn’t the same age where you had to hope radio played your favorite song, now you can pull it up when you like!
The problem with streaming, or at least the problems that people have voiced about streaming have never been about its existence. It’s awesome to have a network that allows people to listen to music whenever they want. I wish I had it as a kid. No, the problems have always been concerned with fairness in regards to how artists are affected by streaming. The traditional argument is that they’ve been treated quite poorly (putting it mildly).
This article in particular detailed how Spotify had recently teamed up with Universal Music to withhold offering certain albums to free users for as long as two weeks. Ultimately the plan is to hopefully get more people to pay for Spotify premium rather than just use it for free and suffer through the advertisements.
One quote in particular I thought was interesting (stated by Universal Music chairman and CEO Lucian Grainge) was, “Streaming is both the dominant source of revenue for the major labels”. I actually didn’t know it had grown that large, but according to research, it is.
Anyway, on to the Saving Country Music article. Now, I’ve been a fan of Trigger’s work for a long time, and to see him address this issue is fantastic. Trigger takes issue not with the people who pay to stream (like me), but the people who don’t pay to stream.
Really, it is just a mere $10 an entire month, and with the way I consume music, it should be a LOT higher. Maybe that’s a solution – raise the price a little. Not a lot of course, after all, streaming is helping the industry grow in a troubling time, but perhaps a slight increase to $15 would go a little way. Then again, it might also piss off the people who use the service as well, so my idea can probably be thrown out the window.
Anyway, much like Trigger says, it’s important to note that YOU STILL CAN BUY MUSIC! Typically if I hear something I like, I wait until payday to show my support if I can’t buy something right then and there. I first heard Shinyribs on Spotify, but today I coughed up $9.49 over at Google Play for a great album, and I don’t regret a thing.
One important thing to keep in mind with streaming that I want to address to fans is – please don’t abuse it. Yes, it’s nice, and I myself love discovering new music everyday. But if you do truly love something or want it to stick around, pay for it! I get it, money’s tight, but at least buy something to show your support. A t-shirt, a hard copy CD, vinyl, poster, anything! What’s better too, buy it directly from their website if you can. That’s the undisputed best way to show your support.
From a business standpoint, I also think it’s important for artists (for their own sake) to not try to “wage a war” on streaming. You won’t ultimately win. Streaming is fortunately and unfortunately here to stay, and pissing off fans isn’t a wise business investment, no matter how loyal your fans are. Fans are fickle (let’s be honest), so I get that it may be tough, but the artists who embrace it rather than fight it are the ones who will come out on top, especially if the music is you know, good.
To go off topic for a moment, one business tactic that I like seeing is the release of Chris Stapleton’s upcoming album, From A Room Volume 1. If you’re an iTunes user, click here. If you’re a Google Play user, click here. Do you notice anything? Probably not from simply clicking on the link, but for those who can see it, you’ll notice you can preview the entire record. Why did it take until 2017 to think of this? I don’t know about you all, but I hate it when I hear a pre-release track to an album only to be completely disappointed with the rest of it or else set up expectations listening to a few other tracks.
With the Stapleton album, I’m excited to hear the full album since the previews have given me a good taste of what’s yet to come. I’ve pre-ordered it and am anxiously waiting its release, and in today’s world where there’s something coming out every five minutes, it’s nice to be excited to hear something again.
Now you might say, “well, you can do that anyway on the release day! What’s so special about this”? That’s true, but why wait until your album has to compete with others on release days? It might lose attention to some other album that more people are interested in, and as a result you might get lose in the shuffle, so why not just give a taste of it early?
Granted, one objection you could formulate to this is that, by showing people exactly what they’re going to get it may also drive them away (if they don’t like what they hear), but really I do believe that the benefits outweigh the costs. If someone likes what they hear and wants to hear the rest come release day, maybe they’ll either at least buy the album in some type of format, or the very least pay to stream and do something for the artists. Who knows?
To end today’s discussion, I’ll share this tweet from artist Rich O’ Toole
Yes, please buy music, but if you can’t always do that, at least pay to stream. Support the music you love in some type of fashion.