Den of the Cyphered Wolf

Sunday, May 5, 2013

Defense of Streaming Music

Okay so when it comes to issues on the back burner I return and go back and forth through them and you know what I'm going back to today? Streaming music services vs. artists. I'm reading article after article of people freaking out over this. Do I think artists should be paid and paid well? Duh. Do I think that streaming services should pay them more. Maybe. But here is the thing I think streaming services are being portrayed a little unfairly in this debate, because people avoid talking about a few things.

1. Per Song Purchase vs Per Listen
The biggest thing that catches peoples eyes are the numbers. Less than a penny per listen. But here is thing. It's the difference between paid once vs more than once. I know for a bona fide fact that I've listened to "Sympathy For the Devil" conservatively at least 80 times in the past year. Please allow me to introduce my... sorry it went off in my head. People rarely listen to a song they like just once. If a typical artist makes about a nickel on an iTunes song, half a penny per listen royalties on streaming would make up the difference after an individual listens to a song about 10 times which seems reasonable.

2.Streaming is Struggling as a Business Model
I believe streaming digital content is the future but the business model is still maturing. In a lot of these articles people are outraged that streaming media companies are making a crap ton of money off the backs of the artists except they aren't. Pandora as a company has been struggling for years. Sometimes it's profitable. Sometimes Mostly it's not. It's weird I read music articles and then read business and technology articles and they read like night and day.  And Spotify is even worse.

3.  People Do Pay For A Lot of These Services
On the more hyperbolic side of the aisle I often hear use of these services being labeled as piracy and evidence of a "freeloader culture." And every time I hear that I cringe a little. For a few reasons. The artists are authorizing and getting paid for the use of their music and the services do have paid tiers. Sure you don't have to pay for these services but on mobile devices you're paying for Spotify. Same goes for Rdio. I've been paying for Rhapsody for about 6 years now. Even Pandora is trying to get people to pay for it's service.

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