More technology, less money

It is hard to imagine artists creating music without publishing it on streaming services. For listeners, it is a great convenience: without leaving home, buying a new album, they can listen to their favourite artists with one click. Unfortunately, not everything seems so easy, because as it turns out, musicians do not earn more on streaming platforms than they used to before. It is quite the opposite.

Selling CDs is a thing of the past and it’s not the most popular way for listeners to buy music anymore. Today, it is more of a way to collect music. Likewise, buying vinyl records provide a slightly different musical experience. So, most of the users benefit from the availability of online music.

Daniel Schludi | Unsplash

Until a few years ago, many people illegally sought access to music. The reason was simple: it is easier to listen to MP3 music when it is not lying on the shelves, when you can create your own playlists, than to buy it in material form. However, this illegal music download has opened up a way for a few people to create a place for legal access to music.

One of them was Daniel Ek, the founder of Spotify: today, one of the largest streaming platforms. Those services made life easier for both audiences and creators. From that moment on, the listeners could legally listen to music, and the musicians were to be provided with adequate finances, which they were losing by illegal services.

However, it is very difficult to get adequate earnings on streaming services. Due to the ease of publication, they are crowded with hundreds of thousands of musicians whose goal is the same. Another bothering question is how much you pay for playing one piece. Spotify pays for one song as long as it has been played for at least 30 seconds. As of 2019, Spotify reported that it pays between $.003 and $.005 per stream. So it means to get a dollar, the song needs to be played at least 250 times. And this amount still has to be split into several people and institutions. In Spotify case it is divided by the artist’s record label, their publisher, and other entities.

For those who own rights to their own music, it is easier to earn more money. All they need to care about is promoting the music and of course the quality of the songs. However, to earn at least a minimum salary, it takes nearly 400,000 streams, which is not easy to achieve for less popular creators. That’s why many artists changed their tactics. They no longer release music once per 2 or 3 years, but even a few times per year, so they can earn more. The competition is very fierce, almost 40,000 songs are published on Spotify every day.

This is also influenced by the payment of subscriptions. Many people are still defending themselves against payments by using the free versions. As a result, websites earn less and are not able to pay the appropriate amounts to the artists. But the fault lays mostly in the companies’ hands. They make the most important decisions, which also include the creation of playlists that make artists recognizable. This is one of the many reasons why artists protest. And although their music is legally available thanks to streaming services and they actually receive money, their amount is simply ridiculous.

Artists’ struggle against streaming services will continue, obscuring the main purpose of music. Works lose their value when more and more of them are created and the artists want to make a living, from what they create, which is very difficult. It is not known what will happen in the future when streaming services have more and more control over music than the creators themselves.

Anna Marek

Sources:
Planetary Group: Do Artists Get Paid Every Time Song Played On Spotify?
Business Insider: How Much Does Spotify Pay Per Stream?
Rolling Stone: Spotify Dreams of Artists Making a Living. It Probably Won’t Come True

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