Streaming: the Demise of the Music Business
The Music business has always operated from music sales, which comes from the product of the artist. That statement alone does not apply in the current state of what the music industry is, so do we no longer call it a music “business” ??
With streaming now booming and building an empire of subscribers of whom could actually be consumers for a thriving business… it’s time to start thinking intellectually and question the true motive and intentions behind the idea of streaming and it’s real effects.
The first lie: “ Music doesn’t sell anymore ”…
Hahahaaaa! I always have to laugh at that propaganda.
As a human being with emotions and as an artist, that is the most ridiculous statement I have ever heard. It’s like saying “the sky just isn’t blue anymore” and people will actually believe it? Music is something that mostly everyone connects with at some point in whichever genre or form they relate to. If a song or lyrics touch someone on a deep level, they are most likely going to find that song before they eat dinner or as soon as they can. If it’s available through purchase only, they will buy it. Music is and always has been in demand.
If music isn’t selling now, its more likely because of these streaming platforms that have monopolized the industry by luring in the fans to be loyal to the streaming sites more than the actual artist. The reason mostly being because of a monthly subscription which makes it inexpensive/easier for music fans. I’m all about pleasing the fans, but the streaming services are making the bulk of the money while getting the respect not to mention cutting off sales-based, organic opportunities for those who are independent of an inside system. I say an inside system because that’s what happening. There are separate deals being cut to a certain few artists/labels with these streaming services almost like endorsements. Like Drake with Apple, for example. Just by him being “loyal” to Apple and promoting his music with apple he got paid a lot of money to do so and it was based upon his fame/visibility. Well what about artists like me who aren’t handed that platform of visibility, how can I make progress, or make money?? When my music started streaming, the “royalties” I have received, I couldn’t pay a half of one months of my bills in 1 whole year of streaming.
By streaming music, the fans are supporting the streaming sites and the selected few labels/major artists that are cut deals to have their hands in the pot. Not the artists outside of the system, like me.
The second lie: “ Streaming helps new and independent artists to gain exposure ”
I can testify that is an un-truth. With the Jay Z’s, Beyonce’s, Kanye’s, Rihanna’s and the Nicki Minaj’s of the world continuing to be handed all the platforms, the awards, all the airtime and visibility year after year, how in the world would streaming help me to gain exposure? Their music would be streamed before mine would get noticed. Artists like me can’t even build their own career off their music if they wanted to.
The fact that sales are very relevant in every industry except the music industry is something we need to really look at.
I am a testament to sales being an irrelevant factor in the music business. I have topped the sales charts in Pop and R&B with my latest Album “Thru The Veil” but every major media outlet continued praising the same group of artists that we always see and hear as if my achievements never existed. The music “business” now focuses on celebrity couples, gossip, feuds, publicity stunts and endorsing other brands that have nothing to do with music. Oh and streaming.
The third lie: ” Streaming is helping to reduce piracy ”
This is my response; After a year of my hard work, sweat and tears creating, recording, mixing and mastering an album all while investing tons of money into each project, the royalty checks I received from streaming are so sad that piracy isn’t too far away from the amount that the streaming checks read. In other words, streaming is not too far away from piracy if you respect your artistry.
Many artists who are not paid to represent these streaming platforms have spoken out about streaming and it’s profound effects on their livelihood. Bette Midler said it best when she said, “It’s now impossible for artists/songwriters to make a living”. With over 4 million streams of her music, she received a check for only $114.00 After broken down to each digital radio airplay, she earned a rather microscopic micropayment of .00002733076 cents per track. There is something seriously wrong with this picture and it shouldn’t be swept under the rug anymore as if streaming is “the thing to do” or “the way the industry is going”.
I think it’s important to take a step back and look at the big picture of what and why things are occurring.
So many great and talented artists have given up their dream in music due to the effects that streaming has put on the possibilities of success in this industry. That means we have lost out on possible artists and music that could change the world because they can’t make a living. There is a reason CD baby distributes all their (your) content to ALL and every streaming outlet that there is. Streaming is helping those at the top and keeping the bottom at the bottom with no visibility and no money.
Of course it took much experience for me to come to these realizations, that’s why my latest album “Thru The Veil” is not available on streaming and only available for purchase.
My hope is that more artists and songwriters become aware of what is occurring and we can come together to do something about it in the name of music. Even bringing awareness to what is happening can help artists/songwriters take back their power. How can an industry still operate if not from sales? Someone has the money and it’s not the creators of the music.
Now we have an entire generation of music fans that are dedicated to supporting spotify and other streaming sites, but without the artist there is no music.
Artists and musical creators, we must find a way to create our own platform that is in our control and not be dependent on such platforms to be the ones to distribute our hard work while devaluing the art, the artist’s progression, livelihood and future success.
ARIKA KANE, XOXO
Below is the link to the Bette Midler article