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November 20th, 2011

The Perils of Streaming Music

I really love rdio. I didn’t think I’d ever really warm up to a streaming service, honestly, but after trying out (and liking) MOG and Spotify I’ve come to realize that this works pretty darned well for my listening habits in 2011.

But.

I’ve often wondered how artists do on this. After all, I’m not paying them a monthly fee. The answer is… not terribly well.

To make the monthly minimum wage of $1,160, a musician needed to sell 143 self-pressed compact discs. To make that from Spotify, they would need people to stream their songs more than 4 million times — not humanly possible unless you happen to be Lady Gaga.

Ooof. So what’s the next step? Columnist Chris O’Brien asked Ping favorite Erin McKeown:

“Fans who listen to an artist on Spotify should take the next step to support them,” McKeown said. “But it’s not clear what that next step is.”

Well, crap.

It’s something we’re collectively still figuring out. You buy a subscription to a service (which is satisfying in its own right), and then…? Live shows, sure. That’s established. But what about buying the music again in CD or vinyl form? Buying merchandise? Investing in an album?

I’m not sure either but I’m anxious to see where this goes. But we can’t forget the people who bring us all this amazing art, either.

Posted in Television, Movies, and Music

Ryan November 21, 2011, 10:46 am

For me at the moment, the answer is either a.) buy the vinyl (if available) or b.) buy the CD (sometimes) or mp3s as directly from the artist as possible. I don’t usually see enough live shows for it to really make much of a difference.

I think making a physical product special in some ways helps a lot – if an album I like by an artist I want to support is available in vinyl, signed, with a download card and bonus tracks? It’s a no-brainer for me at that point.

COD November 21, 2011, 12:32 pm

The streaming service is primarily a promotional vehicle for the artist. They should not expect to pay the rent on Spotify royalties. However, when you and 1000 friends discover a new artist on Spotify, and over the course of the next year spend $100 each on concert tickets, t-shirts, and MP3s, well now we are talking about real money.

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