Picture this: it’s 2007 and your favorite artist just dropped a new single. You can’t wait to get home so you can download it to your iPod Nano. But, you have to somehow convince your mom to let you spend that $1.29 or you won’t be able to listen to it.
Today, we don’t have this problem anymore thanks to streaming. When you stop and think about it, the way we listen to music has completely transformed in the last few years because of streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music.
Music streaming services are monthly paid subscriptions that give you access to the services’ music library to stream. The two most popular streaming services right now are Spotify and Apple Music.
So just how are streaming services changing the way we listen to music? One word, access. Instead of only being able to listen to a song when you buy it, you pay this monthly fee and you have access to almost every song ever made. This allows music listeners to listen to new music immediately upon its release. This also allows music listeners to discover new artists and music tastes because there is no price limit on what they can listen to.
On the artist side, streaming has decreased the importance of albums. It is now more appealing to artists to have a single with billions of streams than an album that does well. It is also common for an artist to release a single, then an acoustic version of that single, and a remix of the single, elongating the success of the single and tripling its streams with just one song.
When spending money on individual songs on iTunes, you would prioritize buying your favorite artists’ songs first, fearing that you may not like something from a new artist. But with streaming, it doesn’t matter what you listen to because you pay one price monthly and have access to everything. This allows music listeners to expand their musical horizons.
Streaming services have also added a social element to listening to music. You can see what your friends are listening to, follow their playlists, and even make collaborative playlists. Artists themselves even make playlists and share them with their listeners.
Along with transforming the listening side of music, streaming has transformed the business side as well. Music labels now look for artists that are streaming friendly. Artists that could fit well into a Spotify playlist, or have a viral hit that gains billions of streams. For well established artists, streaming services offer them a gold mine.
On the streaming services’ side, Spotify pays 55 percent of its revenue to labels, and Apple Music pays 58 percent. This system works well for well established artists because billions of streams create large amounts of revenue, but for smaller artists who aren’t getting billions of streams, they’re making significantly less than they would if someone were to buy their song on iTunes.
The streaming era has given listening to music new meaning. We now have access to any song we want to listen to, can discover new artists and songs easily, and can share our new finds with our friends. The music industry is being re-imagined, and labels are figuring out how to succeed in the new era of streaming. The streaming era is a great time to be alive for music lovers and artists alike as they get to experience a music industry reborn.