Streaming Websites Shaping Future Of Music Industry, Artist Pay

A few years ago, the only way to listen to music online was through iTunes, YouTube, Myspace and illegal downloads. Now, music streaming sites like Spotify and SoundCloud are completely redefining the music industry.

SoundCloud is a streaming site where users can upload their own music or listen and create playlists from other artists. SoundCloud reported they have 175 million monthly listeners.

Content creators work hard to upload 12 hours of audio every minute. The uploader fees vary. The first three hours are free, but there is a yearly subscription of six hours for $59, or unlimited uploading for $145.

Spotify is a streaming site where listeners can access millions of popular artists through playlists or searches. The user can listen with ads and limited skips, or buy Spotify premium. After a free 30 day trial, premium is $9.99 a month for unlimited skips, no ads and offline access.

Students however have the option of signing up for the student discount, making the monthly payment $4.99 per month.

A positive aspect of both SoundCloud and Spotify is the accessibility to the listener. It is simple to use and all the listener has to do is download the app and make an account.

Both sites have thousands of playlists to choose from. Spotify even has different playlists for a variety of moods. This is a great way to discover even more music similar to your own taste.

Another major plus is how many artists are emerging and being discovered through these music sites.

Popular artist, Macklemore, originally released his music on SoundCloud. Macklemore and Ryan Lewis independently produced and released their album “The Heist.” Jon Bellion has been releasing music on SoundCloud for years.

Zedd discovered Bellion through this and asked him to record the song “Beautiful Now,” with him this past year. Bellion said his next album will be released on iTunes. However, this can also be a negative because anyone can upload their music.

The user may have to dig to find quality music because naturally, some music is complete garbage. Money for artists is nowhere near where it used to be. Obviously CD sales have declined, but it is so much more than that.

The main ways artists can get paid is through publishing, touring and merchandise sales. The only way artists can get paid from SoundCloud or Spotify is by having advertisements tacked onto their music.

Spotify pays only a fraction of a penny per play. Some artists absolutely refuse to have their music available on Spotify.

For example, Taylor Swift withdrew her albums on Spotify because she believes the artists are getting ripped off tons of artists don’t get paid through SoundCloud, which leads to the question: Who determines what music is? The more popular artists get paid, but what about the other artists who are struggling?

It is no surprise that iTunes sales have been declining for a while now. Therefore, iTunes created Apple Music.

After a free three-month trial, the user pays $9.99 for unlimited streaming to the Apple library, expert music suggestions and Apple Music radio stations.

YouTube is also finding a new way to compete with SoundCloud and Spotify. YouTube Red allows the user to enter a hashtag with an artist’s name in the search bar and pull up the discography the artist.

The user can pay $12.99 to remove ads, save songs offline and play songs while using other apps.

There is a greater opportunity for an artist to be more creative and expressive with their work. The rise of independent artists could be due to how easy it has become to put music out.

With social media evolving and the popularity of music streaming sites, we are starting to see so many more artists compared to a couple years ago.

This is only the beginning, we are just now seeing what streaming sites have to offer. This is clearly the future of the industry.

This article originally appeared in the Jan. 27, 2016 print edition of The Echo. 

image via blog.getqsic.com

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