Topic Background

Music Consumerism. According to Merriam Webster, consumerism is “The promotion of the consumer’s interests or the theory that an increasing consumption of goods is economically desirable.” So what exactly is music consumerism one may ask, it is simply how consumers prefer to listen to music and how these preferences are met by the companies supplying music.

There is no doubt music plays an important part in the majority of peoples lives and everyday we find ourselves listening to our favorite artists. However, how we listen to music and the effects of our actions is a topic many are not as informed about, including myself. It all begins with the artists, these are the individuals who devote time, money and themselves to create the beautiful sounds we are all blessed to listen to everyday. For up and coming artists, online music streaming enables the artists to gain a following and share their music to people all over the world. At the same time, do these online streaming companies pay the artist what they deserve for streaming their song?Since music plays such a vital part in each one of our lives one way or another learning about the actual process is something I as well as others will find interesting. Music Consumerism is a topic that consumers should pay attention to because through learning about the different online streaming companies, hopefully we will be able to figure out which is truly the best.

While doing some background research on some free online streaming companies compared to the paid memberships such as Tidal, I learned some interesting facts. The main reason why paid memberships are coming into effect is because of low pay. In December 2013, Spotify released data on how much rights holders were paid per play of their songs, on average, rights holders received between $0.006 and $0.0084 per play. That’s less than a cent per play, which means hundreds of thousands or millions of plays are required for any meaningful earnings. Also more than 50% of the earnings goes to the label and the artist gets whatever is left. Compared to Tidal, a paid online streaming company, reported paying artists $1.44 per stream. The two payouts between a free online streaming company and a paid one are clearly very different.

I think something many people fail to realize is how much goes into making a song. The artist does not simply write lyrics then record it bam all done, the process is much more complex than that. For example, If a band wanted to record a song in a good studio, it would cost up to $500 or more per day. Then the equipment, usually the artist will have to rent (if they do not already have) a drum set $400, guitar $500, amp $500, bass $200, amp for bass, fender guitar $900, and fender amp $1,000. That’s not all, the little things such as mic stands, cables, effects pedals, guitar tuners can add up to be roughly around 300–400 or more. The next step is to produce, copyright, and master the song so eventually if the band were to take up to a week to completely finish the song, it could cost around $8,000. Imagine putting $8,000 into a song to have people be able to stream for free, it is just not right. Even though Spotify is free and more in our price range, we need to think about the artists. Many artists do not just put out music for free just because, they do it because they are passionate about music and are trying to make a living out of it. By freely streaming on Spotify, if you think about it, we are listening to someone else’s work but not giving them anything in return. Yes, by listening we are broadening their audience but how would you feel if you worked hours and hours at a job and weren’t paid a cent for it. We cannot just think about ourselves, we have to think about it from the artist’s’ perspective, the people who are trying to live off of their work.

Over time, I hope to answer the following questions:

  • How do up and coming artists feel about Spotify?
  • How does VEVO and Soundcloud pay the artist?
  • Google Play supposedly pays the artist the most is this true?
  • With the creation of all these online services, will this affect or harm the music industry?
  • The radio, when a station plays a song do artists get paid or no?
  • Independent v. signed artists which has the better benefits in terms of music consumption?
  • Why is vinyl so popular now?
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