Why I will never pay for a music streaming service. (Until I have to.)
In response to a recent article published by Jacob Mann on “Why people argue about music streaming” I’m going to present a second tier to the argument: Why do music fans pay for any music streaming service?
To give some background: I do use free Pandora fairly religiously while driving in the car, I am a non-traditional college student and my studies are specifically in music business (as a non-performer), and I’ve found myself facing crippling credit card debt three times over before turning 27.
Due to this history, I may have some personal biases that lead me to not pay for streaming service. I understand this line of logic wont work for everyone (and may offend some recording artists) but if it resonates with one person, I’ve done my job.
I want to do more with my life.
Music streaming services cost anywhere from $5-$30 a month depending on your family size or streaming needs. If an average streaming membership is $10 a month ($120 a year/$600 in five!) that’s a potential vacation, a few live concerts, a life experience!
I love listening to music in my daily life, but I love traveling a lot more. I’ve made an elective decision to not be bothered by the commercials; I’d rather have an advertiser pay for my ability to listen to music and take those dollars saved and put them towards a new memory instead.
Music does not typically face scarcity.
Copyright law arguments aside, there are plenty of ways to find music from my favorite artists’ if I really want to. I rarely find myself in a situation where I HAVE to listen to something specific and call upon a song right then, maybe this happens to other people more, I’m not sure. . .
If I’m actively looking for a particular song I can turn to YouTube, the personal artist’s page, concert recordings, Soundcloud, heck, the library depending on the genre or decade and any of these methods cost me less than $10 of my time.
If music streaming services had less competition, I might be more inclined to pay but I’m not at a place where I feel I need my music discovery simplified to a single service’s mobile/web app.
The future of music streaming is not free.
In technology’s timeline music streaming feels proportionate tailing after the internet, smart phones, mobile apps, and intermingled with cloud storage and faster internet speeds. In music’s timeline streaming feels like a big disruptive dent at the end of a long history where CDs were the last big thing.
Music streaming has changed the way most artists, especially from larger labels, generate income. It has introduced an endless amount of variety to fans making an artist’s ability to stand out and get frequently replayed even more difficult. And although the music industry is attempting to monetize streaming services as best it can antiquated copyright laws leave recording artists, publishers, record labels, streaming services, and performing rights organizations all trying to figure out who gets what and how much.
Depending how long it takes for copyright laws to become updated to include these new technologies, there will be millions of people/companies who will have felt slighted for years looking to recoup their loss.
When this happens, I predict music streaming services will no longer have “free” as an option. Which is why I won't pay, until I have to.