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The Music Streaming Evolution

It appears music streaming is here to stay and its changing the game; however, music streaming comes with mixed feelings for fans and artists alike.

How It Works

Music streaming services like Spotify, Apple Music (who bought out Beats) and Tidal usually have a free level of subscription that offers limited availability to music while the premium subscriptions which cost around $9.99 per month offer unlimited access. These streaming services have expanded the amount of music available at the tap of the finger to music fans, which is awesome. In terms of data collection and being able to more clearly analyze music listener tastes and consumption, music streaming services offer a harsh truth about how popular an artist’s music actually is. Music streaming shows which songs, albums and artists music listeners are truly feeling by tracking how much they actually listen to the music rather than basing it off of cd sales which do not actually reflect the listeners taste in music as much as their taste in artists. But for artists music streaming is a little more complex.

Music streaming services pay royalties to artists according to how many plays an artist’s music gets per month. Per play most of the services end up paying artists $.0011, which would mean an artist’s music would have to be played hundreds of thousands of times to make minimum wage. Some artists like Taylor Swift have struck back at the model by refusing to allow their music to be streamed on these sites. Due to the popularity of fan use this is a gamble. On the one hand the artist is standing up for themselves and defending their bread and butter but then they risk alienating their fans who rely primarily on these sites for access to music.

Music Streaming and Hip Hop

It is not certain if Taylor Swift’s backlash was a result of poor compensation or just in response to a philosophical objection to the business model but Hip Hop artists have done well in regards to the music streaming model. For instance Drake’s “If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late” was streamed 40.3 million times in its first week. So, suffice it to say, that Drake made some profit. Spotify reported that the share of top 500 artists has increased 16% over the last year for Hip Hop artists. The question is why is that Hip Hop artists are doing so well with this business model that clearly doesn’t favor the artist?


It may be the new generation of listeners who prefer Hip Hop or “Urban” music and their attachment to the new technology of music streaming or possibly it speaks to the connection between Hip Hop artists and their fans. One thing I do know is true Hip Hop heads live Hip Hop music. It’s a part of the every day life so its no wonder that Hip Hop music gets streamed at such a high rate on music streaming sites. Perhaps the cookie cutter, fast food production of pop music lacks the major component that will allow it to survive the music streaming evolution: sincere connection to its listeners.


I’m not sayin; I’m just sayin,


An Angry Black Man

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