The Music Revolution

Why the current music streaming model is flawed.

Streaming music for a monthly premium has now been the way of life for the music listeners of the 21st century. While this obviously seems like the most convenient and affordable way to listen to music, it is the least effective solution for both the listeners and the musicians. Let’s explore how.

How is it not beneficial to the listeners

Streaming music service gives you the luxurious feeling of access to unlimited music at your fingertips. Streaming catalogue ranges up to 30 million songs at a price tag of $10 a month. On an average a single user listens to about 300-500 songs over their subscription period, which is about 0.0017% of the service the user has purchased. Although you are offered about 30 million songs, you will only be utilizing less than 1% of the service you actually have purchased.

In addition to this, different streaming services try to capitalize on the exclusive content to acquire users to its platform. For example Tidal offered Kanye West’s Life of Pablo as an exclusive to Tidal before it arrived on Apple Music and Spotify. This makes it difficult for a single user to maintain subscription with a single platform and have access to all of the newly released tracks. Users then are given no option but to pirate those music. The music industry itself is influencing piracy in this case.

How is it not beneficial to the musicians

FYI, streaming services make payouts to record labels that the artist is signed to or directly to them if they are indies. Standard payout model consists of paying for the number of streams of a song times the per stream cost. Per stream cost is calculated intelligently based on the service’s gross subscription revenues, ad revenues and operating costs.

As per leaked contract between Spotify and major labels, Spotify paid a lump sum of over $42.5 million to the majors to convince them to commit to their pricing model. While this may have been the only option for Spotify to convince the labels of their then revolutionary pricing model, how much of this money was actually split up with the musicians is still not clear.

There are a tons of stories on the media that of musicians being underpaid from the streaming services. Rosanne Cash is a country singer and daughter of the late Johnny Cash made only about $104 off of 600K listens over an 18-month period time. While these numbers may rise over time due to the growth in user base, it still posts a very low total on the board.

On top of this, major labels are paying services like Spotify for a placement in some of their top playlists. Indies and musicians on budget are then left in the dust, giving them an even more of a hard time in exposing them to the masses. Apple Music does give significant importance to indie musicians. However, it too could side with the major labels and end up promoting them over time as they eventually run short on revenue with the streaming model.

Doug Morris, CEO of Sony Music Entertainment said in a keynote address at Midem 2015 that the music industry has shrunk from a $30 billion market to $15 billion market. These are the outcomes of the mass adoption of the streaming model. While the benefits of technology and innovation has made a significant impact on many other industries, the music industry has however has fallen short in this crisis. While some may argue that the growth in the user base of streaming audience will result in the growth of revenue through the model, it will take relatively longer time to get back to the original state and it may never even happen.

Carrie Cockburn/The Globe and Mail SOURCE: Recording Industry Association of America, IFPI Digital Music Report 2015

Take responsibility

A market is only sustainable when parties on both side of the table is in good terms. But musicians in this case are unable to make a sustainable living with the proceeds from the streaming revenue. Fans on the other hand are paying for what they are not using.

Music has a prolonged history for humans regardless of it’s language, culture and genre. Letting it fall short is not a wise thing we as music fans should do. If we don’t compensate the musicians responsibly, they will not make the music that we would want to listen. So, to have them do the best at what they do, we should shift their focus from their financial stress to creativity. Which will in turn result in unique and good quality music.

Neil Portnow, the president of the National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences — which hands out Grammys says “One would think there has to be a way where the people who write, perform and own that music can be fairly compensated for the work they do…I don’t think we are there yet,”. I think we have reached a point where this needs to happen sooner than later. So, I propose a solution based on my observation of the industry and solely for the benefit of it’s stakeholders.

Enter Tinrit Music, a music service dedicated to helping talented musicians in getting discovered while compensating them fairly. Tinrit offers ways in which a musician can upload their music, create nice album art within Tinrit and publish it directly to their fans. Through Tinrit they will have the ability to sell their music in a unique way.

Musicians will be able to set a price on their song and set a limit on the number of times a user can listen to their song before being prompted to purchase it. When a user reaches the maximum allowed listens limit, he/she will be unable to listen to the song further until he/she purchases the song. From the purchase musicians will retain 100% from each sale(after transaction fees).

Lets take a step back a little, as a listener if I listen to a song several times on repeat, it means I like the song hence I will be supporting the musician for his or her effort. So, then I will purchase the musicians’ music and listen to it as many times as I wish. This way both the creators and the fans are able to get the best out of the content. Users can either commit to a monthly plan or add funds as they wish and use them to purchase songs. Using Tinrit Music’s iOS and Android apps, users can have their purchased music saved for offline — listening without burning their allocated data plan.

Finally

As we saw above the streaming music model is very ineffective. With this proposed part streaming — part purchase model, musicians will have the ability to set a limit on a number of times a user can listen to their songs before being prompted to purchase. They will retain the full rights over their content, thus giving them the opportunity to distribute for free or paid as they wish. With this new pricing model mixed with the social discovery features, we will solve the problems we have with the current streaming solutions and ultimately help grow the industry in a positive direction.