What does Spotify do to the little guy – to the newly signed baby of the music-market?
For years now, the music industry has flourished, constantly filled with funds from an ever growing market. The market has constantly updated itself, bringing in revenue from the sale of records, cassette tapes, CD’s and iTunes downloads. However, in the last few years we have begun to see a dramatic shift to a new kind of music industry. In the modern world, music isn’t about how many albums you can sell, or how high your song might rise on the iTunes chart. Music today has become about services that stream music – for free.
Unlimited access – what a crazy and beautiful idea for us as the ever-unsatisfied consumer. Unlimited access to our favorite megastars, to album after album, to new music and much more – it’s a consumerist’s dream. Services such as Spotify appeal to any person who loves music and saving money, and who doesn’t fall into that category? However, while this exciting new concept benefits us, what is it doing to the artists that we all know and love? Worse yet – what is it doing to those who are just starting out?
While the purpose of streaming websites is to allow the consumer to try out new music completely for free, thus discovering new artists and leading to their rise in fame, new statistics show Spotify might be a bit more top-10 than we think. Last year the amount of streams of these pop megastars grew 38 percent meaning that 3.3 percent of all streaming is just the top-10 artists’ most recent music. This does not even begin to cover the huge amount of streaming done of the artists’ past music. So is Spotify really helping the little guy find his way into the market, or is it instead promoting the same artists already promoted by the radio and television. What does Spotify do to the little guy – to the newly signed baby of the music-market?
Asked and answered – streaming services such as Spotify make it almost impossible for the new guy to enter the industry. Artists earn an average of under one cent per stream. This amount can range from .006 cents to .0084 cents. For artists such as Justin Bieber or Maroon 5, this little amount can rack in thousands to millions of dollars a month, but for artists beginning to enter the market, this little amount of payment can end an artist’s career before it even begins.
This concept is especially true due to the startling fact that an artist’s popularity is one of the main factors in deciding how much payout said artist will get. An artist new to the market, and not yet popular, will get less per stream than an artist who has been in the market for years and has a solid fan base. This means that the new guy entering the industry will be making .001 cent per stream while our beloved megastars will be receiving .0084. Imagine trying to enter an industry in this way. Image pouring your heart and soul into a piece of art, only to have it devalued by an unthankful audience.
Several megastars have begun to speak out on the subject of Spotify and it’s unfairness towards smaller artists. Taylor Swift infamously withdrew her music from Spotify in 2014, saying that her hope is that artists won’t “underestimate themselves or undervalue their art.” After withdrawing her music from the site, she has yet to be persuaded to repost it, despite various attempts by the company. Following in her footsteps, Adele recently decided not to allow her newest album, 25, onto the site. She again spoke out against the undervaluing of art. She, as well as Taylor, has yet to post her music to the streaming service. Artists like Taylor Swift and Adele are looking out for the little guy, paving the way for other artists to deny Spotify claim’s on their music.
Since Spotify originally entered the market in October 2008, several other streaming services have begun to make their way into the industry. Streaming services such as Pandora and Apple Music have since begun to rise in fame alongside Spotify. However, in a recent poll, twitter users use Spotify more than any other streaming service. This poll is startling for Apple Music tends to be the preferred streaming service. It is believed to have a higher payout rate. Even Ms. Taylor Swift has allowed her music to be placed onto the streaming service, after the company agreed to pay artists, even during the initial user trial period. Competition between Apple Music and Spotify has begun to be very evident, however, at this time Spotify is still in the lead. However, they might not hold this title for too much longer.
Overall, are streaming services such as Spotify can be both a blessing and a curse. As a music consumer, and someone who spends a majority of their paychecks on CD’s and iTunes downloads, Spotify can be a glorious thing, however, supporting the artists we love might just be a better thing. So what do you think? Is Spotify devaluing artist’s art? Or is it all just part of the business?