Streaming has literally changed music.
(ThyBlackMan.com) When I was growing up as a youth in the YouTube era (2005-2011), downloading music was the not just a thing to do, it was the thing to do. It was that or buying the music from iTunes. We chose the former route. During this time, songs would take the time to build an audience, starting with internet leaks to gauge its popularity. If it was heavily downloaded on sites such as, then it would be a hit on the radio. With this era, songs for the first time were in control by the public on their time and not by radio DJ’s/record labels.
But when Spotify, a music streaming service began picking up steam with music consumers in late 2011/early 2012, it began a shift in music being consumed solely on the internet, driving physical album sales and the radio to nearly become obsolete. Music streaming allows for consumers to pay to listen to whatever song they want in the sites digital catalog. They can listen to music in the comfort of their homes, downloaded onto their phone or on their tablet on the go. Soon, Spotify and other services such as Apple Music and Tidal began to compete, which probed artists to depend on the streaming sites to gain notoriety and drive sales. Surprise albums such as Drake’s “If You’re Reading This, It’s Too Late and he and Future’s “What A Time To Be Alive” were smash hits on streaming platforms.
Now, artists release music with little to no publicity because access to their music is right at their fans fingertips; pun intended. With the traditional album sales slowly declining by the year, will the power of streaming last long? It all depends on if streaming sites can stay on the curve of music today. Artists have long complained about the compensation rate which has caused certain artists such as the late Prince and Taylor Swift to pull their entire catalogs off of certain streaming sites. Ne-Yo, who gained fame as a solo artist and a songwriter on hits by Beyoncé, explained the negative effects streaming has on successful songwriters/artists such as himself.
“The frustration by songwriters, here, though, seems unanimously pointed at how much they are making off of streams of their albums. “Right now, for example, 1 million streams of a song on Pandora only earns a songwriter $90 on average. And that then has to be split with publishers too,” NeYo told me. “Even if you write a hit song that’s streamed millions of times, you’re still not going to earn enough to pay the rent from streaming. And that’s where the entire industry is moving.”
So while streaming has helped shape the state of music today by allowing music consumers, it has its cons, too. Record labels are trying to bridge the gap by attempting to work bigger royalty rates for all parties involved. But, if streaming sites can stay ahead of the game and whether or not they can please recording artists, will determine the longevity of Spotify, Apple Music etc.
Music Editor; Brad Washington
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