In My Opinion: Spotify allows musicians to grow audience

Sammy Odell, [email protected]

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Big names artists like Taylor Swift have brought attention to the newly hot topic of streaming services asking whether or not the service’s payments fairly compensate for what artists have created and shared. This question produces a deeper concern for artists who worry they will never make a decent living solely from their performance career.

The argument itself has become a critical discussion over the past couple of years because industry professionals are looking for the best way to move forward after more than a decade of declining recorded music sales, post-Napster.

Notably, the artists who have most recently spoken against the use streaming services are big names like Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke, Prince, and Neil Young, artists who do not necessarily “need” the money.

Realistically, lower, mid-level artists use Spotify and similar platforms to create awareness of their presence in the industry. Following the rule of thumb: make your music accessible so listeners can find you easily.

Whether or not streaming services, like Spotify, are positively impacting artists’ careers is an emotional debate. The discussion is dominated by gut feelings, data of questionable quality, and isolated opinions.

Most arguments begin with a number that signifies the amount of money an artist is paid according to number of plays.  For example, musician, Sam Duckworth recently explained how 4,685 Spotify plays of his last album gave him $19.22, which is $0.004 per album stream. The evidence ends here, leaving readers with a horrified notion that big, corporate industries are creating a listening world that we have graciously taken part in.

There is no further research that shows how much the streams of the album will earn him over the next 10-30 years. In addition, there is no measureable way to indicate how many new fans Duckworth may have gained by making his music so easily ready to the masses. Did these fans travel to his website, buy merchandise, or share his music on social media to their own followers? While this could be counteracted with saying the same thing could be done with sharing or telling friends about a physical record, the convenience, simple sharing, and listening ability is lost.

Artists need to build themselves a core fanbase – fans who will always be willing to buy more than a concert ticket or a record every other year. Streaming services have created this exact opportunity more accessible than ever. The streaming market provides artists with the advantage to direct traffic to personal and pre-order web sites.

Streaming services are in place trying to create a system where artists will earn royalties forever for quality music. The timeline differs from previous products we are more familiar with like iTunes making us uneasy and apprehensive to this change.

Streaming is by no means a replacement for digital sales, and to blend the two is a mistake. Streaming services do not present threats to incomes of lower, mid-level artists, but instead, act similarly to file-sharing: a convenient way to discover new music.

Addicted to the simplicity and convenience of the universal jukebox, most people are willing to support its growth, but also desire to find a way to respectfully aid in their favorite artists’ careers.

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