From the archive: written in May, this still presents points of interest…
What is music streaming?
Why stream? Convenience for the consumer, who now truly consumes without ever possessing the object of affection. No physical/material ownership and greatly reduced if not minimal or even no investment (you know who you are). No guesswork about artist info or back catalog or what’s stylistically related or precedent. No mess, no thought: just the goods. In short, no work; just receptivity. I’m here, I’m ready, entertain me.
This may mean dwindling active involvement and engagement for the listener: that of imagination and self-discovery brought on by interaction with subconscious and intuitive thought. It may also mean vastly broader influences and cross-productivity—for both listeners and musicians. However, will this lead listeners to be inspired to produce rather than remain terminally passive?
Spotify’s co-founder/CEO Daniel Ek is an undeniable force. His company has over 20 million songs available in the U.S. alone and ten thousand added every day. See the interview with Charlie Rose, starting at 30m17s.
What’s next? What’s the impact on future design and innovation? And how do musicians benefit by streaming in ways that are directly and economically sustainable rather than a loss-leader for other routes to income?
Allegedly, “…an artist on Spotify would need over four million streams per month to earn US$1,160 (equivalent to working full-time at a minimum wage job).” Arguably, “…the problem isn’t Spotify’s failure to pay out significant royalties, but that it’s paid to the record labels, who then pass too little of it on to their artists.” And Spotify has also been sued by musicians for “…user playlists mimicking the track listings of their compilation albums…infringing on copyrights for the albums themselves.”
If only the prevailing music streaming scenarios could be reconciled with the “…little bump in the road” approach from comedian Louis CK, who acknowledges “…if people can’t buy it, they’ll take it.“ CK’s comments to Charlie Rose start at 9m58s.