How Music Has Changed with the Surge of Streaming
Start writing a post

How Music Has Changed with the Surge of Streaming

Has internet culture changed how we get music for the better or the worst?

How Music Has Changed with the Surge of Streaming

With the recent drop of "4:44" by Jay Z, I wanted to start a conversation about streaming that’s been on my mind since my second semester of college. During my second semester of college, I had to write an ethnography project on music. I decided to focus on my current internship and whether studio culture is necessary with the surge of DAW’s and accessible information that you could find easily on the internet. I could relate to that as a musician who is getting into production. It was very easy for me to learn about Pro Tools and how to use them. Naturally after finishing my essay project I wanted to know if streaming was changing the state of music in a negative or positive way.

I think that streaming can be positive in a way that it makes music more accessible to a larger audience. For example, artists like Lil Yachty and Ugly God became popular through Soundcloud, a popular streaming site. Without the millions of streams artists receive, artists like Yachty probably wouldn’t be at the place they are at now with millions of adoring fans and endorsement deals from large. But many other artists could hardly say the same for themselves. It isn’t every day that someone can get millions of streams. Even if you do get at least a million streams from apps like Spotify, Tidal, or Apple Music, you won’t be making much. Based off of a royalties calculator, if you get a million streams on Tidal, your estimate amount of royalties will be about 28,000 dollars. However, if you are a company like Apple Music or Spotify, you get much lower priced streams at about 4,000 to about 6,000 dollars. Of course, these amounts change depending or not whether you own your masters, compositions, the types of deals you have with a label, and if you have a relationship with the streaming company. For example, in March of 2017, Spotify made a deal with Universal Music (UMG) that would allow their artist to put their albums behind a “paywall for the first two weeks of release as part of a new licensing deal” (Rolling Stones). That basically means that artists signed to UMG would exclusively put their album on Spotify for the first two weeks and Spotify would give extensive data reports to UMG. This helps give Spotify a larger catalog and gives UMG more information on how their artists are doing when it comes to streaming. This new deal also makes it easier for Spotify to go public because investors won’t back Spotify without support like labels that still control the music industry.

But this new deal might also affect how UMG artists get paid compared to the artist and if this new deal affects royalties.

The average royalties that Spotify pays per stream are between $0.006 and $0.0084. That means that if you're an indie band on Spotify with about 100,000 streams per track, you are probably only making about 400 dollars (if you’re signed to a label that amount might be less than that). Essentially, you probably won't be making any real money unless you are getting at least a million streams and that goes for other apps like Apple Music and Tidal. Although both of these apps pay more royalties than Spotify, Tidal paying the highest at $0.012, which is about double the price of Spotify. So an artist making 400 dollars from 100,000 streams on Spotify would probably receive 2,800 dollars, which is seven times as much as they would on Spotify. This isn’t surprising since Jay Z owns Tidal and is also an artist, the main point of the app is to give the artist more ownership over there music. The problem is that Spotify is the top streaming service with over 50 million paid subscribers and 50 million unpaid listeners. They have a farther reach than Tidal which is between 1-3 million subscribers. So unless you are an artist with a reach and exclusive content, you probably won’t be making as much on Tidal either.

That being said music streaming is great for consumers and depending on what you are looking for might depend on what app you might use. A die-hard Jay Z fan might use Tidal or Apple Music because his content is exclusively on these services and releases on Tidal first (for obvious reasons), and the same goes for Beyonce fans as well. Her recent album "Lemonade" has not been on Spotify since it’s release. If you own an Apple product and want an array of music then Apple Music is great for you. Apple Music has the largest catalog of music out of the three streaming services and has also developed shows with our favorite artist. If you’re a big Tribe fan, you would probably want to get Apple Music to gain access to Q-Tip’s Beats 1 show. You can also watch music videos like Sza’s new video “Supermodel”, or watch Diddy’s new movie "Can’t Stop Won’t Stop." You won't be able to do that through Spotify because they are not streaming videos yet.

Unfortunately, another route to receiving all of this content for free is through illegally downloading this content. Immediately after the release of Jay Z's "4:44" album, all the tracks were online. As someone without Tidal, it made it a lot easier for me to see all the tracks on Tumblr. But for the artists, I understand that posting this content makes it harder for these artists to make their money. But we live in a world where anyone can hack into a system, simply download these tracks, and post it on their platforms. Although I am NOT an advocate of illegal downloads, I can see why people do it and how accessible it is to download a track off of YouTube instead of Apple Music.

Streaming has also changed how artists chart and receive certification like Platinum or Gold by the RIAA. Billboard recently released a statement saying that they would not post the August 12th date charts because of technical issues based on data retrieval. Another issue that causes problems is the fact that Lana Del Rey, Meek Mill, and Tyler The Creator are all vying for the number one spot which may have caused the issue with the data. Tyler blamed the issue on Tidal; He believes that they manipulated Meek Mills' streaming numbers because Meek’s album, "Wins and Losses," was streamed free in front of the subscriber paywall which might have affected a number of streams he received. This is one way that we see how streaming can affect music overall. Tidal and Spotify have also gotten into trouble before with manipulating numbers.

But this isn’t the only way that we see how streaming affects charting or certification. With the release of Jay Z’s new album "4:44," we see that he was certified platinum a week after his album dropped. People were confused because the album was only available for a week and it was exclusively on Tidal which doesn’t have a lot of subscribers. Later we learned that Sprint (who partnered with Jay Z for this album) brought a million units and then gave it to their customers for free as long as they typed in their email and a code sprint. For many artists teaming up with a streaming service and a large company is the new way to sell and market their music. Jay Z wasn’t the first artist to do this and won’t be the last artist to do this. A few years ago, Apple and U2 made a deal to place their new album "Songs of Innocence" on Apple devices everywhere. Although many people were shocked and displeased (including a few of my friends), it was a great business move for the band as it exposed them to a lot of people and provided them with a 100 million dollar marketing deal from Apple. Rihanna also a made a deal with Samsung of about 25 million dollars with the release of her album "ANTI." Samsung paid for the copies of her album and sponsored her tour among many other things. This was a "win-win" for both parties. Consumers got the album for free and Rihanna was getting more money through her Samsung deal than she would with just streams.

You can see the amount of change from the Napster age to now. I think that streaming has its purpose and although it can benefit us consumers properly, it may be different for the artists. As an artist, streaming might get you more plays if you’re on a big website but that means nothing if you aren’t getting paid properly through these services. I hope that this changes in the future but to be honest, artists haven’t been getting paid since before streaming started.

This was a learning experience for me and it definitely opened my eyes to technology in connection to music. Tell me what streaming service you use and why.

Here's a YouTube Video on the Music Streaming from Vibe's The Business of Life.

Report this Content
This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
Student Life

20 Things I Learned By The Start of My 20s

No one expects you to have your life together by the time you're 20, because honestly, they didn't either.

Allyson Foutty

We are all often faced with many life challenges throughout the time leading up to our 20s. Before this time, and throughout it, we often look back at the things we've learned and how they've influenced who we are as people today. Some of my biggest influences were some of the challenges I've faced, but they've taught me 20 important things by the start of my 20s.

Keep Reading... Show less

The Boyfriend Recipe

The ingredients to build a relationship are a little more complicated than just a bouquet of flowers and a box of candy.


Relationships. Long distance or not, significant others are much more than just that. I would be lying if I said I did not love the sweet gestures that only a boyfriend can give. The flowers, funny phone calls, hand holding, breakfast dates, and tight hugs are special but my relationship and many others out there exist on much more than just these little gestures. It is a tricky concoction that consists of one part boyfriend and two parts best friend and would not work without one part or the other. While having a relationship may not be quite as easy as baking a batch of cookies, it has its own recipe (with a few variations for flavor) to follow for a good match.

Keep Reading... Show less
google images

Fashion just keeps growing and changing and old trends are made new! Now, I'm no beauty guru, just a beauty guru wannabe, but personally I have compiled some stylish wardrobe must haves! These can be cute assets to go back to school or just to catch up on some of the latest trends...

Keep Reading... Show less
Student Life

There's More To A Relationship Than Netflix

Summertime is only 93 days of the year, Find something to do!

Tallie Ammar

Summertime is ideal for more than just hanging out and binging your favorite TV series with your friends. Although summer does bring rain and thunderstorms which is perfect for those binging days, take advantage of those nice and sunny days. There is so many opportunities to get out of the house and enjoy the season before the snow starts to come back. Here are 25 interesting dates that are doable almost anywhere for any age.

Keep Reading... Show less
Leilani Encarnacion

Philadelphia has its beauty, but some of you may have not been to some of the most beautiful hidden spots in the city. This summer is a chance for new adventures and exploring, so here are a few places that I highly recommend you should visit at least once.

Keep Reading... Show less

Subscribe to Our Newsletter

Facebook Comments