When I first tried Spotify, a Sweden-based music streaming service that recently became known in the U.S., I expected it would be a tragedy for the music industry. How could any artist ever expect to make a profit when this program allowed anyone to listen to millions of songs for free? Spotify already has around 15 million songs and is continuously growing by about 10,000 new songs a day. There is a Premium membership which costs $9.99 a month, benefits including the removal of the advertisements that play in between every few songs or so, unlimited streaming, and Spotify for mobile.
After a little research, I saw this program as beneficial for the musicians. In this day and age, we are all about convenience. No one wants to get in a car and drive to a store just to search for the CD when they can just go online and download or stream their favorite artists right away.
Spotify pays artists minimums based on their stream count which means more revenue for the artists. The artists will begin to make the money on their music that they had lost for years due to illegal downloading. The music industry loses over $12.5 billion per year due to piracy, according to the Recording Industry Association of America. As people stream music, the record companies will be paid, which allows them to in turn, pay the musicians. There are many ways to purchase music online including I-Tunes and Amazon. It was hoped that these types of options would decrease the number of illegal downloads, but Spotify has the best chance at creating a real decrease by offering completely free music.
Now with all this free music available at our fingertips, we won’t even have to wait the few minutes of download time to hear our favorite artists. Spotify also makes it easier to share music with friends by creating public playlists or sharing music choices on Spotify through Facebook or Twitter. It is not only a large database of free music but also a type of social-networking site which broadcasts your music on Facebook as you are listening to it. For people interested in discovering new music, there is even a “New Album Releases” playlist created by Spotify that you can subscribe to stay updated.
The effects of internet downloading and streaming are visible in stores. Best Buy’s CD section has significantly reduced its size to a very minimal collection of artists. Vinyl albums are usually difficult to find anywhere but sometimes can be purchased directly from the artist’s online merchandise store. Now even if someone did want to go to a store to find a hard copy of an album, it would be unlikely to find it unless the musician or musical group is widely known.
Internet downloading and streaming allows for record companies to save money on the production of album covers, CDs, tapes, and vinyl records. By using Spotify, you are supporting your favorite artists while not paying a dime and with a statement like “Millions of tracks, any time you like. Just search for it in Spotify, then play it. Just help yourself to whatever you want, whenever you want it,” how can anyone resist?
*Published in the College of DuPage Courier Student Newspaper, 2013.