A year ago I published one entry in my blog titled "What are we doing with our music?". After a year, probably longer, of actively thinking about the issues that arise with the era of free music streaming and what this implies for artists and listeners, I've tried to look forward more than I look backwards in terms of technology and accessibility. I think there are good things about the streaming era, and the one I think of the most is that music is very accessible nowadays.
"What are we doing with our music?" shed light on the fact that musicians don't get revenue for putting their music out there. The big picture was that most of us invest in our projects out of pocket and the profit made from a previous project hardly accounts for any of the investment we make into the next.
Today, platforms like YouTube, Spotify, SoundCloud, etc. make music accessible in a way that was impossible before. This leads me to think that the future of music lies on streaming platforms; after all it's a great way to make music accessible. I like to picture kids with access to internet exploring a myriad of songs and artists, listening to music from all parts of the world, exploring all kinds of artists, new and old. Those kids will be the audiences and the musicians of the next generation. I'd like to think that accessibility to music pays off in many ways, that because of this we grow to be more global than ever before, open to a wider variety of music and, therefore, cultures.
However, I believe that tons of music being easily accessible leads to a lack of appreciation for the musicians and their music. We need to be aware of the luxury of music streaming, it's cheap or even free and you get access to all the music you love and more. What we can do in-turn is to create a culture that values the work behind all the music both emotionally and economically. So I still think paying for music is not a crazy idea. When I speak to my friends they usually tell me one of two things:
The first thing is that they don't have money to spend on music. Which sometimes I can understand especially when it's no secret that for the most part spending money on music has become a choice. If you can get music for free why pay? More often than not, those same friends will pay for their beer and their fitness activities because, well... there is no choice: if you want those things you pay for them.
The other thing I get told is ''but I pay for my Spotify subscription''. That should be enough. Right? They are indeed paying $10 to stream an average of 128 hours of music per month. Just think about all the work behind those 128 hours of music, the work of each artist, and just tell me what you think. Although it might seem fair to you, this money goes to Spotify to pay for your use of the software. A tiny, basically non-existent, portion goes to the artist. Even if you don't pay for a subscription they still get ad revenue; advertisers pay for the software you are using, but again, this money is not for artists. Ironically, music seems to be the less important part of the business.
So this new streaming era is fair to listeners as they can access an incredible amount of music, it is fair to the platform itself as they get revenue from it, it is great for advertisers as they sell products by meddling in an activity almost every single person enjoys. But I still think it fails the music makers.
Anyway, what I'm trying to say is I love that nowadays music is very accessible even though at times we tend to forget how valuable it is because of how easy it is to get it. To many, spending money on music is a choice, so if you can invest in music, do it. On the flip side, if you can't pay for music, invest with your time.
It's been said over and over but in case you don't know how to support:
1. Don't wait for the next big act to go to your town to see a live show. Go to local concerts and festivals.
2. Buy their music.
3. Donate to your friend's campaign.
4. Go to your friend's recital/art exposition.
5. Speak about what your friend does. You might not even know it, but this could create an opportunity for them in the future.
When you support the artists that surround you, you are contributing to creating a culture that values art and values their artists.