by Shelt Garner
I’m not an expert, but just some back of the envelope thinking about things like Spotify leads me to believe that in the end the music industry is bound to make a whole lot more money of streaming than off of any physical medium.
The reason is, if someone owns music, they buy it once and can listen to it as much as they like for “free” afterwards. Meanwhile, with streaming, it’s kind of a win-win for everyone involved. For a reasonable monthly fee, consumers can listen to millions of songs at whim. Meanwhile, every time a song is played — for whatever reason — the artists involved gets SOME money, however small.
So, there are two major times when this element of music sociology gets involved. One is, the back catalogue of music that might not be as popular anymore and, as such, might be hard to find. Places like Peaches or Tower Records — however big they may have been — had finite physical retail space and, as such, they had to make some subtle editorial decisions.
So, as an Old, if I went to some modern day Tower Records, there’s a good chance I wouldn’t be able to find some obscure 90s band simply because it was 30 years ago and the market to house the CD / vinyl isn’t there anymore. But with Spotify, et al, if I want to listen to a very specific 90s song out of the blue, that’s money that that artist would otherwise not get.
The other main way artists MUST be making more money is through replays. I listen to some songs over and over and over and over again and that’s money that the artist wouldn’t get using the traditional Point of Sale type distribution of a physical product — once that physical music medium is bought, that’s all the money that artist should expect to get.
I’m not saying streaming music is perfect or that it isn’t causing problems. It’s not perfect and it’s causing problems. But I think, over time, artists — especially older mid-tear artists –may realize they’re actually making more money than they might otherwise.