I love music.This isn’t even close to being an exaggeration. I really freakin' love music. My music taste ranges from Pearl Jam to Beyoncé, Halsey to Fleetwood Mac, One Direction to Nirvana.You name it, I listen to it ALL.
I’m always looking for the next best thing, the thing that catches me off guard. What the Internet has brought us is music streaming. It started with Napster and free downloads (thanks, Metallica, for putting an end to that!), and then it started to morph in ways that no one could imagine. People were pirating music like crazy.
New sites began to spring up to curb pirating music, like Pandora and iHeart Radio, which allowed listeners to create a station based on the musicians they like, and which used algorithms to guess what you might enjoy next. It’s like shuffle roulette, and you can skip as many times as you want… if you pay for it.
Many music streaming sites run for free, but if you pay a premium of say $10 a month, you can skip songs as many times as you want and miss out on those obnoxious commercials.
Then came Spotify. Their streaming service allows you to stream entire albums for free, create playlists, and get access to performances that you could only find on iTunes and in stores. You still get commercials, but the streaming service isn’t based on algorithms if you create your own playlist filled with songs you enjoy.
But is Spotify stealing from the artists? Many musicians, like Taylor Swift, think so. The problem is that Spotify pays the artist a fraction of a penny (A FRACTION) per song streamed.
In a backlash against Spotify, musicians teamed up with sites like Apple Music and Jay-Z’s streaming service, TIDAL. TIDAL is pretty much Spotify, except subscribers get a three-month free trial, and then have to pay $19.99 a month for the HiFi streaming option (if you want to hear every. Single. Instrument. As told by the TIDAL website), and you can get a student discount.
According to TIDAL, this fee is going straight toward artists and their royalties. In other words, Beyoncé isn’t getting robbed every time you stream “Formation.”
What I sometimes have trouble with is the reasoning behind having a service run by the artist for the artist. When Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, it was an act of saying that art has value, and art should be paid for.
And she’s right. But the continued argument, by artists like DJ Calvin Harris, is that we need to help out the struggling artist, and the struggling artist can’t make money if you stream it off Spotify.
Here’s where the issue is: The musicians that are creating these music streaming sites are already millionaires, and they are smart business people. They want to continue to make money, which makes it hard to believe that they are looking out for the struggling artist.
Artists like Kanye West are releasing their music exclusively to TIDAL or other sites, which seems to be a money loser and kind of dumb, if you think about it. Kanye is only releasing “The Life Of Pablo” on TIDAL, and not to Apple’s iTunes, so you can’t even buy the album. Or there is the other option, which is stealing it.
Other artists really don’t give a damn where or how you get their music. Miley Cyrus released her last album, “Miley Cyrus and Her Dead Petz,” for free on SoundCloud in August of 2015, because she wants people to listen to her music. She doesn’t care about the money she makes off of it because she’s pretty much financially set, in her point of view.
Dave Grohl, of the Foo Fighters and Nirvana, in an interview with Digital Spy after Taylor Swift pulled her music from Spotify, said “I don't care if you pay $1 or fucking $20 for it, just listen to the fucking song.”
He further explains that the fans that are going to listen to your music will continue to buy your albums, share them with friends, go to shows, and buy your merch. The best part of music, according to Grohl, is making it and sharing it with the world.
Music streaming is great for people like me, who are always looking for something new to listen to. But music is art, and art should be consumed and appreciated.
Whether you stream music or not, the artists that you listen to define who you are. High school can be summed up in that one Nickelback song that you love to hate. A Drake song can bring you back to that one night your sophomore year of college when things got pretty lit.
Major musicians and the Grammy Association are pushing subscription music streaming sites to listeners, and Sony believes music streaming is the way of the future. And it is, but there really shouldn’t be a backlash against companies like Spotify.
The artist is free to release their art in whatever shape or form they want. But they have to keep the most important person in mind when they do so, and that’s the dedicated fan.