Does anyone remember buying records? Man, you people are old. My parents listened to music on cassette tapes in the car when I was growing up. I barely even remember ever buying CDs.
This is because, right around when I got around to being a consumer myself, with some money to spend, iTunes was becoming the biggest thing around. But now even iTunes and its competitors are having a hard time.
That’s partly due to the lack of importance the current generation gives to actually owning a copy of their music. With wi-fi or 4G coverage accessible in most major parts of the U.S. and internet connections readily available in nearly every home, there’s a new method of listening to music that’s become the norm: streaming audio.
Why buy it when you can listen to it for free? Sites like Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud all offer free streaming music and other audio, that simply load as you listen to them online from the sites. You can download them for a price (or subscription fee), but why bother when even your phone can stream the music from most urban locations anyway?
How do they do it? Well, using Spotify as an example, they pay the artists a negligible sum to get the rights to stream their music to the general public, and they advertise to cover their costs. As we speak (which is to say, as I typed what you’re now reading), I’m listening to my favorite music on Soundcloud, and I’m not paying a cent.
Why would musicians just accept this? It’s free publicity. They may not make a lot of money off of the music you get from Pandora, but it gets them the publicity they need to make money in other ways, like concerts, tours, and music videos. It also helps new artists become recognized faster than they ever could if they have difficulties getting a recording label, letting the internet decide if they’re worth any attention.
How do you take your audio? Streamed or sold for 99 cents?