To Stream Or Not To Stream?

Swift Vs Spotify

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There has been a lot of debate within the music industry recently as to whether music streaming sites like Spotify, should be allowed to use artist’s content when the pay per stream is as limited as $0.006 – $0.084 per stream. In November 2014, Taylor Swift made a drastic decision to remove her backlot of music from the streaming site Spotify and not add her recent album release, 1989 to the sites domain. Why?

Well according to her own personal quotes, this is what she had to say…

“Everybody’s complaining about how music sales are shrinking, but nobody’s changing the way they’re doing things. They keep running towards streaming, which is, for the most part, what has been shrinking the numbers of paid album sales.”

“And that places a perception of value on what I’ve created,” the star explained. “On Spotify, they don’t have any settings, or any kind of qualifications for who gets what music.

“I think that people should feel that there is a value to what musicians have created, and that’s that.”

– Time Magazine (Read the post here)

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So, is it the fact the music isn’t being ‘valued’? In my views, the music is probably being valued a lot more nowadays with the introduction of the online streaming site because since then, there has been a major decrease in music piracy and illegal downloads. Surely streaming sites are controlling the negatives surrounding theft within the music sector?

Ok, yes, the free subscribers don’t pay to listen to the music, but Spotify is very aware that there is a limited amount of income being drawn in from paid subscribers at this early stage of business and henceforth why the free subscribers are bombarded with paid for advertising. This is where the money comes from.

Some of you might be thinking, there is a lot of difference between the amount artists receive from streaming compared to CD sales… But what if streaming wasn’t available, that potential $6 million Swift could’ve earned from her 1989 streams on Spotify in the first week of release, would’ve gone down the drain on illegal downloads and piracy.

The CEO of Spotify took a stand against the issue and had this to say….

“Taylor Swift is absolutely right: music is art, art has real value, and artists deserve to be paid for it. We started Spotify because we love music and piracy was killing it.”

“So all the talk swirling around lately about how Spotify is making money on the backs of artists upsets me big time. Our whole reason for existence is to help fans find music and help artists connect with fans through a platform that protects them from piracy and pays them for their amazing work. ”

– Spotify Press (Read the press release here)

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In some ways, I can understand where Taylor Swift is coming from, Spotify do need to make arrangements with artists and discuss where the content is going and who too… I think her biggest criticism was that Spotify was ‘an experiment’ she didn’t want to be a part of. She wants Spotify to allow artists to segregate their music to specific sections, i.e exclusive tracks and new album releases for paid subscribers first before it’s free to everyone.

Yes, there may be improvements to make Spotify more ethical, but they provide enough information for their stakeholders to understand the company is new, it’s growing and it’s making adjustments rapidly. It also states how 70% of it’s revenue is put back into the music industry, so that’s good right?

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What are your thoughts on the subject? Is Music Streaming taking us from an age of illegal downloads to a rise in legal music consumption, which will lead to more net revenue for the music industry? Or do you believe streaming sites take away the right artists have and need to pay artists more for their content?

Let me know what you think on the subject in the comments section below….

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5 thoughts on “To Stream Or Not To Stream?

  1. Steve says:

    Good article. Not being someone who uses these types of service, my first thought was they are ‘legal pirates’. But having read through the article, I can see where they are coming from and it seems, on the face of it, to be a good solution to the illegal downloading that goes on. I can also understand the artist wishing to have a little more control over their music and can see where Taylor Swift is coming from re those that pay get it first, or at least all of it first. The real point here though is about the amount the artist earns from their music via these types of site, as I am sure if this was a major source of revenue for the big artist this discussion would not be happening, or am I just being a little bit cynical here!!!

  2. Dawn Hiley says:

    As someone who works in the industry that sells CDs for 14 years I think it’s a shame for the artists that they don’t get to sell as many solid albums now as most people do download. It used to be part of an artists claim to fame on how many albums sold he sees getting gold discs. I know they still get them through downloads. It’s so nice to go through a CD collection and choose one to play. As long as the streaming is fair to the artists and giving them the reward for there work I supose we must move with the times and sadly see less of CDs sold (less rubbish on landfill). Anything to stop piracy and theft has to be a good thing for all concerned in the music industry.

  3. […] Hiley (Southampton Solent, 3): To Stream or not to Stream? (22 […]

  4. I don’t use Spotify. In fact, I don’t download. I’m a CD girl. But I do find Taylor Swift a little hypocritical. Her estimated net worth is over $200 MILLION. To demand lots more money seems just greedy. And if people don’t want to buy albums, I don’t think that music should be forced on people in a format that we don’t want to buy. A bit diva-ish. Otherwise, people will just be encouraged to steal the music- and piracy is far more of a threat than her not making yet more millions out of her fans.

  5. paigehileypr says:

    I completely agree… and it was recently stated that her YouTube views doubled to 35 million a day… meaning consumers are just turning to other forms to get free content… what next, back to piracy? Most likely.

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