Music fans are guilty of listening to their music using at least one type of the many streaming services such as Pandora, Rhapsody, SoundCloud or Spotify. So what would happen if some of your favorite artists decided to remove their music from these streaming services? Taylor Swift’s label, Big Machine Records, has done just that. The recently removed all of her albums from Spotify after deciding not to stream her most recent album, “1989.” The reasons are still unknown but there is speculation that it could have something to do with the fact that the CEO of Swift’s label is looking to sell. A move like this could mean big changes for the future of streaming.
There are a number of pros and cons that an artist must consider when deciding to allow their music to stream through various companies. Just like anyone with a product or service to sell, musicians are business minded people who expect to receive some sort of monetary compensation for their works, and rightfully so. Over the years, music piracy has been a growing issue as music listeners have increasingly been finding their music for free through various torrent sites. While streaming services do offer music for free, they also encourage users to buy the premium package that offers the same amenities, but without ads. The money that artists receive is a percentage of money that Spotify makes.
According to their website, Spotify “ pays royalties for all of the listening that occurs on our service by distributing nearly 70 percent of all the revenues that we receive back to rights holders.”
The amount of money that the rights holder receives could be part of the reason for the removal of music from Spotify. The amount of money an artist can make from streaming does depend on the amount of listens their music receives through a streaming service. Taylor Swift should not have any problems with that, but what about underground or indie artists? This means less money for them. Also, there is the idea that offering free music streaming with ads will encourage users to buy the ad free package, but is it successful? As a college student, I am cheap enough to endure a few ads while I stream to music.
Another question arises in the debate over streaming, if an artist removes content from a streaming service, will they miss out on money? It can go either way; removing music from a streaming platform can create scarcity. This is the theory that making certain artists unavailable to stream could increase the amount of paid downloads for that artist. After selling 1.3 million copies of “1989” in the first week, Taylor Swift has proved that the scarcity theory can see success. The other way is that preventing music from streaming will discourage paid downloads.
I agree that music is an art form and that artists should receive monetary compensation for their products, but I also think not offering music through a streaming service where an artists can gain some monetary value only perpetuates piracy. The scarcity theory may prove successful for a global artist like Swift, but a less popular artist would not see the same results. Spotify offers a free tier music package as a way to convert those who download illegally into paying consumers. If rights holders do not allow their music to stream they could indirectly encourage illegal downloading.