Streaming affects the music industry
Views 28 | Time to read: 3 minutes | Uploaded: 12 - 5 - 2018 | By: Lawrence Eady
Back in 1999, the music platform Napster, hosted by Rhapsody, was released and allowed consumers to stream and share music on an online platform. The idea was radical, the potential was incredible, but the execution was flawed. Pegged with lawsuits and accusation of copyright infringement, Napster had a short but glorious 2-year run in the music industry. It wasn’t for another seven years, the year Spotify was launched, that the music industry would see anything like it, and a few years after that until similar platforms were given any notice. Fast forward 10 years, and there are more monthly users on Spotify and Apple Music alone than there are people living in America. These platforms have reshaped the music industry for both artist and consumer, so they are worthy of finding out how.
In regard to the music consumer, streaming has affected not only how we listen to music, but how much we listen and who we listen to. As far as how much we listen, a report by Nielsen Music taken in 2017 reported that people are listening to music for 32 hours a week on average. This figure is up from 27 hours in 2016 and 24 in 2015. This is because consumers have access to much more music, which has been made increasingly convenient at all times. These numbers are directly tied in to in what way we are listening to music. This rise of streaming has brought the rise of the playlists. Spotify’s top playlist, “Rap Caviar,” a hip-hop playlist created by Spotify, has over 9 million subscribers. Spotify also offers many other genres of playlist that span from “Teenage Party” to “Calm and Focus.”
The rise of popularity in playlists have not been only a change for consumers, but also artists as well. Due to the shift in payment for artists from product royalties (a percentage of revenue payed to the artist) to payment based on stream counts, a rising artist’s goal is to make it on Spotify playlists, which will guarantee them plays and, therefore, money.
The payment through streams has been one of the biggest factors affecting artists and the way they approach their music and their approach to distribution. As for music approach, many newer songs have shorter introductions in the hopes that a listener won’t hear a track and skip over it. Another area of change is that albums now are averaging at a higher number of tracks. This is because artists make twice as much revenue when a 20-track album is streamed than when a 10-track album is.
Lastly, while still nowhere near out of the picture, record labels are not as necessary for artists to get their music into the world anymore. Distributor platforms such as LANDR, Ditto music, and Tunecore are all an artist needs to get their music into the world.
To conclude, while streaming is still only in its first decade of popularity, it has torn down many structures and strategies put up by the last era of the music industry, and is only just getting started in it’s growth in the popular scene.