To all the adults that grew up in the 90s – Remember your 12-year-old self when you sat next to your tape deck/ CD stereo, listening to the radio for hours trying to get the new Blink 182 or Backstreet Boys song recorded onto a blank tape, because your parents refused to buy you the new album? Well kids, those days are long gone.
We can’t deny that gaining access to music has change since the technology age. Search almost any artist and/ or song on YouTube and thousands of videos will come up with that particular title. Over the last seven years society has been introduced to the access of free music from organizations such as Spotify (2008). Spotify allows you to stream full albums, artists catalogs, and create playlists at no cost with advertisements thrown in between the music played. There is also a Premium level on Spotify that allows the listener to have access to music without a wi-fi network as well as have a commercial free experience. I am against any paid streaming services whether it is Spotify or Beats Music. Maybe my mind will change as the services change with improvements and upgrades, but currently I look at as renting an apartment or leasing a car. You don’t own the music, but you are paying to borrow it, which is crazy to me considering you could use that $10/month to buy an album. The non-subscription Spotify is my go to streaming site when I can’t afford to buy a new album, want to hear the new billboard top 200 list for the week, or if a friend gives me a new band to hear. Spotify brings music to the people who can’t afford it or are interested in finding new artists to follow. It has brought accessibility to music from all over the world. No matter what level an artist is at in their career or if the artist is in the United States or Australia, they can reach fans in every country.
Spotify has made music more accessible than ever before, but streaming in general has continued to decrease sales due to the fact that people have access to albums for free. It’s like the old saying goes, “Why buy the cow, if you are going to give away the milk for free?” Taylor Swift removed her catalog from Spotify and said in a Yahoo Interview, “I’m not willing to contribute my life’s work to an experiment that I don’t feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists and creators of this music. And I just don’t agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.” In my opinion, superstars such as Taylor Swift are not just artists, but brands and business entities. Not only has her current album ‘1989’ sold over 1.2 million copies, she is the only artist to go Platinum in 2014, and she has 48.1 million twitter followers, but she has endorsement deals with companies such as Diet Coke and Target. She has the power to call the shots and chose where she wants her music to be accessible. Swift is a force to be reckoned with and I respect her as not only a strong woman, but as a person fighting for what she feels artists deserve and that is to pay for the creation of music. Other artists like David Grohl (Foo Fighters) look at streaming platforms as a way to get more people to hear their music. In a Rolling Stones Magazine interview he said, “I want people to hear our music. I don’t care if you pay $1 or fucking $20 for it; just listen to the fucking song.”
Over the last year I have come across some pretty epic bands listening to Spotify that I don’t think I would have even considered listing to before, such as Emily’s Army (now Swimmers), State Champs, Sleeping At Last, and The Griswolds. After I listened to these amazing artists I not only bought their latest albums, but three out of the four I have either seen in concert in the last year or I will be in the next six months. Those of you looking to find a side without experiencing both for yourself – don’t! Spotify has helped me find new music, but has helped these artists gain a new fan as well as increased their album and tour sales.
This post is not in support for Spotify or buying albums, but a statement that both are great. Streaming has taken the music industry to a new level, and with technology advancing, streaming will become the norm – so why not embrace it. Spotify has given musicians another tool to reach new fans; and the more followers an artist can create, the more ticket sales, merchandise sales, and album sales will ensue. How listeners gain access to music is changing and it is up to the artists and the record labels to create new ways to attract listeners to buy albums. In Taylor Swift’s case, her team were geniuses with the ‘1989’ release. The team created heavy marketing around the release with a Yahoo streaming event, 1989 private invite parties with Taylor Swift all over the United States and in the United Kingdom, a promotional tour, and finally a sweepstake to help increase sales for the first week by allowing every buyer of the album digital or physical the ability to enter a chance to win tickets and backstage passes to meet Swift at a future concert (the catch was this was only offered during the first week of the release). David Grohl’s new album ‘Sonic Highways’ also had an eight episode HBO mini-series that connected with the album. The series started about four weeks before the album was being release, which I bet was no concidence. In music business, and sales in general, it is all about how the artists uses the tools they have to increase word of mouth and reach their fans on a new level that continues to surprise them as well as take the leap to financially support the artists the fans love. So, continue to take those leaps and support an artist any way you can through twitting, Facebook comments, street teams, buying albums, and going shows, because without the fans an artist wouldn’t have the ability to do what they love.