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Music Streaming vs Artists

Updated on December 8, 2019

The Problem

In recent years there has been a takeover of how people listen to music. The past ways include things like records and compact discs. These were once the most popular ways to listen to music. With the advancement of technology, streaming music has made these physical ways of listening to music rare. Listening to music by a streaming site is now the most popular way. Some of the biggest music streaming services today include Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, Amazon Music and others. These streaming services allow people to listen to an almost infinite amount of music from their phone or any other device. People pay a small monthly fee, usually around ten dollars, for unlimited, advertisement free, access to just about any music that they want to listen to. Music streaming services have made purchasing individual songs and albums unnecessary. The problem is not that music streaming services do not pay artists. Artist’s salaries are determined by the number of streams of their songs. The problem is that each stream pays only a fraction of a penny. This is because the small monthly fee from users of music streaming sites gets widely spread out. When the money finally gets back to the artist, it is extremely low.

while more people are signing up and handing over their monthly subscription fees, those listeners are also pressing play on more music than ever before, and this pushes the price paid out per stream ever downward.

— Hugh McIntyre

This hurts artists a lot when many artists spend thousands of dollars just on recording their songs. Today artists also spend a lot on promoting their music so that it can stand out from the other thousands of songs being uploaded to streaming services every single day. Music streaming has not hurt every artist.


Besides outliers like Taylor Swift, Drake, and Ed Sheeran, that isn’t a lot of money

— Kish Lal

Big-name artists with hundreds of millions of streams per song still make a lot of money off of music streaming. The artists that music streaming impacts the most are the artists that have made their careers out of music. Many artists have dedicated their lives to the creation of their art and have spent a lot of money on it. This problem can make it especially tough for artists who are on tours because there are many costs to that. With this change in the music industry and the rise in music streaming, artists are left with finding ways of making money to continue their careers.

A visual representation of music streaming's rise to dominance.
A visual representation of music streaming's rise to dominance. | Source

Other's Solutions

While many have talked about the problem, few have proposed simple solutions. Many articles about this topic suggest that a change with the streaming services needs to occur. The problem with this solution is that streaming services look as if they are here to stay the way that they are. Lawmakers and the Copyright Royalty Board have proposed an increase in the royalty payout to artists. The problem with this is that music streaming sites have filed appeals. This will always be a difficult solution to the problem because it will always be a back and forth battle between the side that wants to increase the artist’s royalty payout per stream and the music streaming sites that do not like this idea. Personally, I do not see any music streaming service changing in the near future. Right now the popularity of streaming services is continuing to quickly increase. If big companies are doing well, it is hard to convince them to give part of their paycheck to the artists.


My Solution

To combat this problem I propose a simple solution that starts with the people who use streaming to listen to music. My solution is for these people to go beyond paying the monthly fee of around ten dollars by purchasing other things from their favorite artists. These other things can be merchandise, physical copies of an artist’s music or tickets to a live show. Because streaming services pay artists only a fraction of a penny per stream, a purchase of a shirt would be equal to thousands of streams of a song. Purchases of things like these would fill the gap in the artist’s income that music streaming has created. A lot of artists have ways to purchase merchandise online. If the artist is very small the only way to purchase merchandise might be to purchase it in person at a show. You can keep up to date with when and where your favorite bands and artists are playing by following them on their social media. Purchasing tickets to a show not only helps the artist out with money. More people going to concerts can create a great positive community.


Why you Should Help

This problem has left artists searching for solutions. If you are a fan of music and you have the means to do so you should consider helping the artists that you love. An artist that you listen to may have been affected by this problem. Many artists have dedicated their lives to creating music and music has many benefits. I think that with this simple solution and your help, this problem could be solved.


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