Artists weigh in on the pros and cons of streaming music
By Bigoa Machar
(Photo Courtesy of flickr user downloadsource.fr)
Gone are the days of stockpiling CDs in your living room and of listening to short samples of a particular song before buying it. Also gone are the days of musical artists making money off of record sales and then taking the show on the road to increase sales. These are the days of music streaming services that make listening to music way easier. These are also the days where some artists can only make a living by performing live.
Services like Apple Music, Spotify and Google Play allow listeners to access and listen to their libraries of around 30 million songs from your computer or smart device. With the price of these services being around $10/month, many people, 30 million with Spotify alone in fact, have chosen to adapt to this new style of listening to music.
While this does make everything easier for consumers like you and I, not everything is sunshine and roses for the artists. Some popular artists, such as Adele and Taylor Swift, have opted out of having their music affiliated with some streaming services presumably for financial reasons. While streaming services impact the bottom line of popular artists a little, it dramatically affects the wallets of lesser known artists who are being forced to adapt to this new music business model making it harder to make a profit off their music.
“Music is free like air is free,” says Laura Siegel, singer for the band Leisure Cruise. “In order to monetize it differently, you have to use the power of the internet and learn about it.”
With making music not getting any easier, artists like Dave Hodge, writer and the other half of Leisure Crusie, says the amount of time it takes for a band or singer to make good music is something that’s hard to give up for free.
“It costs a lot of money to make a make a record properly. If you want to produce it well and record it well, not only are you spending hundreds of hours writing and in the writing and pre production phase, but then you’re figuring out how to print the artwork and how you want to release it,” says Hodge. “By that time, you’ve spent months of your time and lots of money. It’s so mind blowing how this is all taken for free.”
While it definitely does have it’s downs, there are some who are embracing the technology of streaming music. Luis Torres, one half of Toronto-based Dj group Dzeko & Torres, says these new streaming apps allow for more exposure to markets that would’ve never heard his work before, allowing him and his partner to travel to new places and perform for new crowds.
“The streaming service kind of changed everything. People used to make a lot more money selling music back in the day. Now, we all just want to get our stuff heard as much as possible, whether it’s through YouTube, Spotify, Apple Music or SoundCloud,” says Torres. “If people are hearing your music, there’s going to be a demand to have you come out and play in different markets. That’s really how a lot of artists are making their money and as long as people are hearing our music, it’s a good time.”
Kaitlyn Hansen-Boucher of Vancouver band The Katherines agrees that these apps and services allow their music to reach new audiences.
“When Spotify adds you to playlists, it lets people who are listening to similar artists discover your music, so it opens up new possibilities,” says Hansen-Boucher.
In addition to giving the artists a new audience, Kate Kurdyak, also of the Katherines, goes on to say that streaming music and releasing it for free allows the artist to take back creative control over what they want to put out and when they want to put it out.
“I think there’s two sides to the coin. Streaming services give you so much freedom,” says Kurdyak. “You don’t have to get boxed into a specific genre and you can just release music whenever you want without having to wait through different album cycles.”
So while it isn’t the perfect system by any means, streaming music seems to be becoming the norm for songwriters and the industry as a whole. With many artists going digital, there are still many ways to support your favorite artists, from concert tickets to merchandise, and copping a grail from the latest Yeezy collection, if you’re that lucky.