The value of streaming services has been widely debated since their introduction & they really became a hot topic when Taylor Swift decided to pull her music from Spotify in 2014. Many people don't understand why some artists hate Spotify or how the music streaming service really works. In this post I'd like to very briefly summarize why it's so controversial and also present my own views on the topic.
The main issue with Spotify is its revenue model. Artist make an average of about $0.005 per stream which is clearly next to nothing, but there are also plenty of artists that you've never even heard of getting millions of streams and making a relatively decent amount from that. The biggest problem with the revenue model is how that money gets distributed. If the artist is signed to a record label, their label and/or whoever else owns the rights to their music are getting a huge cut of that money, leaving the actual artist with even less than they would have initially gotten.
As someone who supports tons of small artists, my opinion on this issue will probably surprise a lot of you. Streaming services are making music much more accessible & they allow independent artists to get their music out to a much bigger audience. Spotify is changing the industry. Not to be rude but you either adapt or you get left behind, that's just how this fickle and fast-paced industry is. Should artists be protesting the revenue model? Absolutely! It's screwing the artist and needs to be revised asap. Will it be revised? Probably not. I honestly don't have much against most major labels and there are many benefits to being signed, but keep in mind that their main goal is to profit. Rather than waiting for some magic change to happen, artists and (especially) artist managers should be looking at every other possible way to make money.
You've probably noticed that recently it seems like your favorite bands are touring nonstop. This is just one example of how streaming services are changing the industry as touring is where a giant portion of most artist's revenue is coming from. Another large portion of their money comes from selling merch. Album sales used to make up a huge section of where their money was coming from but the average consumer is currently buying about two albums a YEAR so that's simply not the case anymore. My Mac doesn't even have a CD slot if that says anything about the future of album sales.
Think about it from the consumer's point of view. If you have to choose between spending $10 on every album you want to listen to or paying $10 a month to listen to basically every album you could ever want, the choice is pretty clear to me. I use Spotify for a couple hours every day & pay the student rate of $5 a month. From a financial standpoint, why in the world would I stop using Spotify? Purchasing every album I listen to on Spotify would run me literally thousands of dollars but I'm only paying $60 a year. Just as a disclaimer, I still purchase my favorite artist's albums, concert tickets & merch to support them but I think it's important to realize Spotify isn't going away any time soon. I completely understand the frustration with Spotify and agree that the concerns are completely valid and real, but I do support Spotify and think it's unrealistic to expect it to change significantly.