Streaming is Changing…for the better?

Word Round Town is That “Streaming is Changing”.

The world of streaming is changing, and it’s hard to say whether or not it’s for the better. For artists, not necessarily record labels, the newly introduced changes will most likely impact them positively if all goes according to plan. Tidal’s and Apple Music’s latest means that users will have to pay for their streaming. This principle favours the artists by increasing their revenue and at the same time users receive a package of continually updates offers and services. Even Soundcloud have followed the similar principle for profit (of which will be addressed later).

However, for the user, the fan, the listener, this recent “development” cannot be all so good. It’s fair to say we may soon see the end of free streaming services. Competition is HOT! And all major services all seem to want exclusivity. They want their listener to be totally loyal to them and them alone. The listener will of course have to if all major services begin charging and if artists continue to exclude themselves from certain services (e.g Taylor Swift removing her music from Spotify).

My hope is that Spotify, as they are currently still doing, will remain true to their mission to release free music while still providing revenue for artists through ad-support and the option of paid subscription.

Just as the world leaders may squeeze society into newly developed technologies or procedures (e.g. forcing people to carry out their traditional activities online as opposed to traditional methods , as such methods decrease in society – reservations/bookings/registration, payments, CV/job searching, coursework, essays, news) so streaming is gradually bringing society into a place where music can no longer be viewed as free to listen to, unless listened to illegally.

Apple Music, in January this year, ended their free streaming of iTunes radio leaving station users with either of these messages “READY TO PLAY WHEN YOU ARE” or “Get on our Wavelength” and prompted to join the payed subscription. Of course those who pay will receive more than what they were given whilst using the free service. Subscribers will receive on -and offline listening, radio stations, social ties and tailor made recommendations, the use of Siri (voice command), expert-created playlists, a blog and a social network (“Connect”) that gives artists a platform to share content with their followers.

Soundcloud has changed drastically, and surely not for the better. Soundcloud have robbed themselves of the very thing that made the streaming service unique – favouring the undiscoverable and independent. Make a song, distribute it free of charge (up to 2hours of uploading space). Not only has it been great for music but also podcasts, spoken word and other audio based material.

On a social platform with a level playing field for all artists and other site-users, users can upload their own material, repost the material of others, follow account holders, and comment on and “Like” uploads. Undiscovered/independent artists have been recognised by major artists through Soundcloud (e.g. Snoop Dogg discovering Iza Lach, the unknown producer Boots working with Beyonce).

Now that Soundcloud are making users join a paid subscription, it is less likely such unique aspects of Soundcloud will be considered the place for independent artists and create such opportunities for these artists.

YouTube have also decided to pull the plug on free music…almost. YouTube are moving closer and closer into an exclusive tier. Recently YouTube forced revenue earning users to comply to the new terms and conditions with the site with a slight blackmail stating “videos will no longer be available for public display or monitization in the United States” if revenue earners refused to comply (small clips will still be viewable). ESPN had to remove most of their content from all formats of YouTube in the United States.

There we have it. Streaming may be gradually fading into an all-pay no-say service. However there is still hope with the likes of Spotify.


unrelated Elmo picture found at Elmo’s World: Music – Muppet Wiki – Wikia