Why Music Streaming Is Good for Creators and Consumers
Originally published in Billboard | by
Streaming music platforms have been a polarizing force in the music business of late. While most artists are available on such services as Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal, otehr major acts have historically either restricted their releases from streaming services or banned them entirely. Among them: artists like Adele,Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke and the Beatles.
Arguments regarding fair payment to artists, fair business models for music consumption, and general habits of music users abound, placing streaming squarely in the middle of an ongoing dispute about creators and how they are paid for their creations.
Despite this cloud of discourse, one fact is becoming abundantly clear: streaming music is in large part becoming the primary source of consumption of music throughout the world.
Here are 5 reasons why subscribing to a music streaming services — any service — is good for creators and music consumers alike.
1. It’s the Future Of Music Consumption
Whether on YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music, Tidal, or a host of other music streaming services, the public and many creators have embraced streaming as the primary avenue to listen to music. As internet access and capability to transmit mass bundles of data increases, people will have the ability to stream music from anywhere in the world. Entire continents and countries, like Africa and India, are beginning to embrace the model, opening up entire economic systems for music in places creators and content owners have previously written off as an income source.
2. 100 Million-Plus Subscribers Means a Real Income Source For Artists
I have talked to A LOT of smart people who forecast industry wide trends in music consumption and money generated from the consumption, and the consensus is that the 100 million subscriber mark is the “sweet spot” for the beginning of a sustainable growth trend in income. Basically, it’s the point where streaming income makes up for the downturn in downloads and physical records. Spotify has recently announced 30 million subscribers, and Apple Music is north of 15 million. The trend is up in terms of subscribers. Every bit counts on the way to 100 million subscribers worldwide.
3. Unlike Netflix Or HBO Now, You Get ALL the Music For $10/Month
Sure, there are still some holdouts, and some people who won’t release on a streaming service the same week they release the record (like Adele), but a VAST majority of the music available for public consumption is available on the streaming services. Many consumers experience the disappointing result of searching for a newly available film on Netflix, only to realize that in order to watch it, they have to rent it from iTunes. I challenge you to look for something on Apple Music you cannot find. If you have a subscription to Netflix, if you’ve “cut the cord” on cable and are paying HBO, Showtime, or any other cable provider a monthly fee for their limited programming, why not take $10 a month and gain access to every song you love? No limits.
4. Playlists and Music Discovery
These streaming services have entire staffs dedicated to music discovery. Apple Music has playlists from the likes of Mojo, Pitchfork and Rolling Stone. Spotify has hundreds of songs in thousands of playlists that both users and their staff create. Both have “music genome projects” similar to Pandora that help consumers discover new music based on your listening history. The path to discovering new music through playlists is real, and there’s nothing like finding your new favorite song.
5. They Are Paying Creators 70 Percent Of Their Total Income
Surprise, surprise, the streaming services actually DO pay the creators. That number is around 70 percent of the service’s total revenue. That is a larger percentage than a typical record store, and in line with what iTunes pays on digital downloads. As mentioned above, the more money that goes into these services by virtue of your subscription dollars, the more is paid out to creators.
So take the leap. At the very least get the free trial. But don’t wait through ads to listen to your music. Subscribe. 10 dollars a month isn’t just an impressive value to you, it is the future of the music business.
Jordan Bromley is a partner at law firm Manatt, Phelps & Phillips, LLP.