Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0
A Lark Ascending

Is streaming technology saving the music industry?

411 posts in this topic

The voice of the devil, I know, on this board (bring back the 78, preferably in a Japanese remaster!) but...

Is streaming technology saving the music industry?

"Record labels were used to being in control. But you always have to let people consume music in the way they want to consume it. Trying to control this doesn't work,"

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's nothing left to save, IMO.

Most artists have the tools and ability to completely take over the entire process at this point.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The voice of the devil, I know, on this board (bring back the 78, preferably in a Japanese remaster!) but...

Is streaming technology saving the music industry?

"Record labels were used to being in control. But you always have to let people consume music in the way they want to consume it. Trying to control this doesn't work,"

We I for one have embraced streaming (to an extent). For sampling music and musicians it's great but for extended listening I still prefer 78/ LP/ CD etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still like my physical copy (burnt from a download is generally how I do it now; I know, it's old hat).

But I find I'm using Spotify more and more. I now pay for the add-free version. Tremendous for what I like to do which is to explore things I don't know (old or new) rather than keep rebuying what I already have in the latest versions.

If it's something I want to revisit a lot I'll download it. Though I suspect even that is part of the old model of 'ownership'. If I was 14 and starting anew I doubt if I'd bother with the downloading and burning.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites
We I for one have embraced streaming (to an extent). For sampling music and musicians it's great but for extended listening I still prefer 78/ LP/ CD etc.

Well, I'm not entirely sure I agree. Although I don't use iTunes Radio, they are streaming 256 AAC. That's the same format as the music they sell in their store, and I still encourage anyone and everyone to take up the challenge I presented to Mr. Lowe some time back to compare it to CD. He said it was too close to call, and I say I hear absolutely no difference whatsoever.

Now, I still haven't tried to A->B iTunes Radio against CD, but the technology is obviously in place and advancing.

Other streaming services will have no choice but to keep up. I wouldn't be surprised if at this time next year all the major streaming services are cranking out at 256kbps for free. That is when things will really get interesting.

Edited by Scott Dolan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still like my physical copy (burnt from a download is generally how I do it now; I know, it's old hat).

But I find I'm using Spotify more and more. I now pay for the add-free version. Tremendous for what I like to do which is to explore things I don't know (old or new) rather than keep rebuying what I already have in the latest versions.

If it's something I want to revisit a lot I'll download it. Though I suspect even that is part of the old model of 'ownership'. If I was 14 and starting anew I doubt if I'd bother with the downloading and burning.

Yeah, and I think if you are a subscriber and listening on a lap/desktop they are now streaming at 320kbps. It's still 160 if you are using the free version. Which sounds OK, but not great.

Your point about if you were 14 is really interesting, though. On the surface I'd say hell no, I still want to own copies. But, I've also got 30 years on a 14 y.o. and grew up in an era where there was only one choice. What I CAN say is that even though I did grow up in the physical copy era, I haven't purchased a CD in well over two years. Once I learned that I couldn't hear a difference between what's offered in the iTunes store and a CD, that was it for me.

So, I think what you're saying has a ton of merit.

Edited by Scott Dolan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I still have most of my physical media around, but I never use it. I play things primarily out of iTunes after ripping the stuff there. I'm also mixing in some Spotify to try things I'm not sure about.

The only physical media I really feel like I need to keep are the Mosaics, but only because of the booklets. I've had multiple old Mosaic CDs actually bit-rot, one to the point where it became un-rippable. This tells me that CDs are not meant to last more than around 20 years, so if you really care about your music, you will rip all of it to a hard disk that you can make copies of every year.

I also don't really hear much of a difference between 256K AAC and lossless rips. I do lossless rips sometimes though just for the sake of keeping irreplaceable media in their "original form" (i.e. CDs from Mosaic sets ).

I should set the turntable up or the vinyl though. Vinyl is at least fun.

Edited by psu_13

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only physical media I really feel like I need to keep are the Mosaics, but only because of the booklets. I've had multiple old Mosaic CDs actually bit-rot, one to the point where it became un-rippable. This tells me that CDs are not meant to last more than around 20 years, so if you really care about your music, you will rip all of it to a hard disk that you can make copies of every year.

CD lifespan varies depending on a number of factors... same goes for humans so it's not worth obsessing over for me. But yeah, all my CDs are ripped in a lossless format and backed up multiple times etc.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

The only physical media I really feel like I need to keep are the Mosaics, but only because of the booklets. I've had multiple old Mosaic CDs actually bit-rot, one to the point where it became un-rippable. This tells me that CDs are not meant to last more than around 20 years, so if you really care about your music, you will rip all of it to a hard disk that you can make copies of every year.

CD lifespan varies depending on a number of factors... same goes for humans so it's not worth obsessing over for me. But yeah, all my CDs are ripped in a lossless format and backed up multiple times etc.

It would take me years to rip all my CDs. I'm sure I have better things to do. I've kind of accepted that some CDs will have limited lifespan. I'll have around 3000 and apart from CDRs only one (Madame Butterfly on Deutsche Grammaphon) has actually failed so far through deterioration. A few others have suffered from trauma.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

It would take me years to rip all my CDs.

You probably won't have to bother. They'll be on Spotify (or another streaming site) eventually!

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

There's always going to be individuals who want the physical artifact, be it a 12" record, tape reel or CD. A box that streams or is full to the brim of downloaded, is just not the same, it lacks physical presence and the ability to browse as if in a library. There will always be a niche market for these physical formats, but as for saving the music industry, it is reverting to a cottage level industry practised by musician-publishing-distributers in their bedroom and garage studios and I can't see this trend changing.

The old record label model is dead, but so too is popular music as the defining and dominant cultural expression, as it was in the last years of the 20th century.

Music is no longer as important culturally as it was for the baby-boomer generation.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

After being with Spotify at £9.99 a month since March 2013, I'm now quite settled into its use.

I now do all home listening - or where free Wi-Fi is available - through Spotify on an iPhone which has no SIM card (outdated model discarded by daughter). Sound quality with a decent pair of earpieces is better than I've had with any system in the past.

When out and about I listen to selections from my CD collection, which I transfer to the phone using my laptop and iTunes.

I have built up a Spotify playlist of 600 items, but still buy about one CD a month to cover these situations:

1) Spotify doesn't have an album I particularly want.

2) Spotify doesn't have all of the tracks on an album I particularly like.

As to physical presence/having a library, I find that having a Spotify playlist - I keep this on the computer as an alphabetical order document - fulfills that function. I can quickly select a sought-after item or just browse.

For me, the introduction of streaming services has been a major turning point in my listening history, comparable to the move from 78s (yes, I was around then!) to vinyl, or from vinyl to CD. Seemed largely to miss out on downloads - don't know why. :huh:

Edited by BillF

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I suspect downloads are going to be one of those transitional technologies rather than 'the' new format.

Interesting one here from last December (I think I posted a link to this or something similar at the time):

'Artists railing against Spotify is about as helpful to their cause as campaigning against the Sony Walkman would have been in the early 80s'

There has clearly been a major disruption in the traditional way of distributing music and this has caused major problems for everyone involved on the production side - performers, record labels etc.

But as with every technological innovation across history, eventually there is a readjustment. The printing press put a lot of monks out of business (Henry VIII just finished the job) and probably led to a deterioration in the quality of manuscript illumination. But in the end it created far more employment and a huge array of new skills.

For as long as there are people who grew up under the older technologies and who find them hard to move away from, then there will be a market and the market will be supplied (boosted for a time by the sort of fetishism that has 16 year olds buying record decks and vinyl). But over time...

I suspect we're only at the beginning of these changes...God knows how we'll be connecting with recorded music in ten years time...but it's good to see that many performers are adjusting to the changes and making them work for them rather than weeping about the good old days.

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Music is no longer as important culturally as it was for the baby-boomer generation.

Can you explain this further?

Everywhere you look people are walking around with earbuds in. Music is still incredibly important culturally. Possibly more so than ever.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Interestingly, my young nephew back in Chester said the same thing to me recently, arguing that music was more important now than ever for young people. Incidently, he is a streamer too and advised me that neither he or any of his friends purchased physical CD's or records.

I don't believe that music has the power to be at the vanguard of the cutural zeitgeist as it did from, if we believe the hype about teenagers, the rock 'n roll era from Elvis through to The Beatles and beyond to the over blown production and contracts of the 1980s. I actually don't belive the hype, so I place the beginning of music as the dominant cultural expression, or what was to come, earlier in the jazz age of the 1920s.

Anyway, I don't see any musical form, artist, band, or record label as representing the culture of our times. It is no longer a vehicle of revolutionary change, or at least, the expression of this. You only need to look at the rank mediocrity and the wheeling out of Debbie Harry and Chris Stein at Glastonbury to give very bad karaoke interpretations of their hits to realise that rock is a dead art form. Well, IMCO.

The era when music represented the common culture, along with Bond films is over. What is left is music as it originally was, outside of classical stuff, as a cottage level industry that will be uniquely, a global affair. From that perspective it is exciting for the canny musician, but at the same time, another Elvis or Paul Simon's Graceland will not come again.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Art, it seems you are confusing the collective appreciation of a specific artist or genre as "cultural".

Music appreciation is much more diverse and personal now which you seem to be overlooking.

People are walking around to soundtracks of their lives everywhere you look. And they often run into each other and ask, "so what are you listening to?"

Just because physical copies aren't flying off the shelf, or some international super star like Michael Jackson, isn't the norm anymore means absolutely nothing. Music is far more integrated into everyone's lives more now than it ever was in the past.

That is a fact that simply cannot be argued against.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Exactly, the diversity of it means there is no longer a common culture to it, as there was in the 1950s, 60s, 70s, 80s, early 90s and of course before. It's so diverse, splintered and with everything available at any time, it has fulfilled the post-modern promise that everything is true and everything is permitted.

I agree that on the individual level music remains as powerful as the recorded music allowed it to become, but on the level of a force of social integration, as it was before recorded music mediums, it has lost its power: I can walk into my place of work, or go for a drink with friends and with very, very few exceptions our playlist will not overlap at all. In the 70s and 80s there would be a common understanding of chart music.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Right, but isn't that the most awesome aspect of it all? Who cares about common understanding of the charts? It's almost preaching conformity over diversity.

The love of music is the commonality. The framing of your life with music. That is the cultural aspect of it. Not whether we collectively appreciate the same artists or top 40 sludge. Culture is the social behavior of a society, and music may be the front runner across many cultures these days.

It doesn't have to be fodder for the water cooler in order for it to be a cultural leader.

Edited by Scott Dolan

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I agree and disagree, but as the situation is in flux, so I think this confusion is permitted.

I miss the era when as a 10 year old, my grandparents knew who Adam Ant was and the video of Stand and Deliver was part of the shared experience of everyone. That's what is missing today, that power to reach everyone, and everbody have an opinion, good or bad has gone.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I understand that. But this is a far more personalized society these days, and that goes for pretty much anything.

I mean, consider tattoos. It's almost impossible to find somebody that doesn't have one these days. But are they all the same? But you can't deny that tattoos are a prominant part of our culture.

Same thing with cell phones. Everyone has one, but are they all the same make and model? Do they all have the same apps? Hell, they usually don't even look the same because of all the personalized cases and covers... That still doesn't take away from the fact that they are an incredibly prominant part of our culture.

You bemoan the lack of collective appreciation or shared knowledge/experience, but those actually are examples of that. Just on a more generalized level.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it contributes to the end of the music industry as we know it. What this thread hasn't addressed is that artists cannot make a decent living from the amounts Spotify and other streaming services pay. Kids who at one time might have gone into music will now go into other fields, such as computer programming. Enjoy the music that's been made, because I'm not sure how much new music there will be in the future.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Ben Allison wrote an interesting blog on the subject: http://benallison.com/my-youtube-experiment/

"As artists and music-lovers, we should stop thinking of YouTube, Spotify, Rdio, Deezer, Rhapsody and the rapidly growing list of streaming services as being part of the “music industry.” I think of the recording industry (the creator side of the music industry) as essentially being comprised of record labels, publishers, distributors, and artists. All are interested in the same thing — creating and selling music.

By comparison, companies like YouTube and Spotify aren’t really interested in selling music because they don’t sell music. They’re interested in accumulating user and subscriber data and selling ads. They use music as the draw. Spotify recently received an infusion of $100,000,000 in venture capital from Goldman Sachs. Not bad for a company that has yet to be profitable. Is Goldman Sachs interested in getting into the music selling business? I don’t think so."

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I think it contributes to the end of the music industry as we know it. What this thread hasn't addressed is that artists cannot make a decent living from the amounts Spotify and other streaming services pay. Kids who at one time might have gone into music will now go into other fields, such as computer programming. Enjoy the music that's been made, because I'm not sure how much new music there will be in the future.

Adapt or perish. The millenials don't care about owning music any longer, they just want access to it. They also don't care about owning movies on DVD and only buy video games on physical discs because that's the only choice. They aren't wrong, it's just their world revolves around portability and doesn't revolve around owning stuff, they prefer to spend their money going out and doing things instead of accumulating a library of crap to store in their apartments. It's a different world and the old one is not coming back.

Musicians will just have to find other ways to make money from them, a new business model, because the old model is dead and buried.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

I won't address the larger philosophical questions relating to common culture because I'm not really qualified to do so.

I do have a certain amount of ambivalence about the current state of music retailing. This is one reason I won't use streaming as the sole way listen to music that interests me. I'll stream it once or twice, and if I'm going to do more than that I'll buy the disk or at least the download. I feel for people who are trying to make a living in "content creation" in the modern age, since the content is the first thing that is made into a cheap commodity that can no longer pay a living wage except to the very lucky.

On the other hand, I don't feel a lot of sympathy (necessarily) to the large media companies. I can't count the number of times I would have liked to buy record A, B or C only to have it be out of print, or only available as an expensive import, or even only available for download in (say) France but not the U.S., all for seemingly arbitrary reasons. I wonder what the real overhead is to the companies that own the content to make the digital masters (and pdfs of the liners) available at the various download services. They don't even have to host the files or the network bandwidth. They just need to allow me to pay to download them. And yet things still go "out of print". This confuses me, but I figure I just must not understand something about how the industry works.

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

What this thread hasn't addressed is that artists cannot make a decent living from the amounts Spotify and other streaming services pay.

Read the original article and the Billy Bragg one later on. They both claim that many performers 'are' making a living from streaming but they've had to change the way they do things in order to achieve that. Much the same as the rest of us who have either had, are having or are soon to have our ways of making a livings massively changed by the impact of technology (it's not really hit education in Britain yet but I can see some major changes just over the horizon).

The Bragg article also points the finger away from the streaming services and at the record labels:

"The problem with the business model for streaming is that most artists still have contracts from the analog age, when record companies did all the heavy lifting of physical production and distribution, so only paid artists 8%-15% royalties on average," wrote Bragg in a post on his Facebook page.

"Those rates, carried over to the digital age, explain why artists are getting such paltry sums from Spotify. If the rates were really so bad, the rights holders - the major record companies - would be complaining. The fact that they're continuing to sign up means they must be making good money."

Spotify pays out 70% of its revenues to music rightsholders, and has said that it expects those payments to exceed $500m (£310m) in 2013. How much of that money gets passed on to musicians depends on the terms of their contracts with labels.

Maybe the emerging ways of making a living out of music favour the gigging musician over those who sit around in a studio for three years making their next album (technology has probably made that unnecessary too).

Edited by A Lark Ascending

Share this post


Link to post
Share on other sites

Create an account or sign in to comment

You need to be a member in order to leave a comment

Create an account

Sign up for a new account in our community. It's easy!


Register a new account

Sign in

Already have an account? Sign in here.


Sign In Now
Sign in to follow this  
Followers 0

  • Recently Browsing   0 members

    No registered users viewing this page.