The real cost of “free” music

The real cost of

Kat Otuafi, Reporter

Listening to music has never been more convenient. Access to millions of songs are readily available in a push of a button. Not only is it easy to access, but for many of these streaming services, it’s free. Music that’s convenient and free, that sounds like one good deal to me. But is it really all that simple? Streaming services like Spotify and Pandora hurt the artists they promote and stream.

With all that Spotify and Pandora have to offer, they’ve become the most popular streaming services. Spotify has almost 250 million users, and Pandora has almost 100 million users. However, only about 100 million of those users pay for Spotify premium, and only 30 million for Pandora. 

In 2000, the music industry generated about 15 billion dollars in revenue. That number has nearly cut in half since then. According to The Recording Industry Association of America, “…we blame streaming services for killing digital download sales, with Pandora and Spotify’s ‘freemium model’ leading the pack”.

 Artists from all over depend on streams to make the bulk of their money. It takes about 150 streams to payout the equivalent of one 0.99 download. The amount of money being taken from these artists is only increasing. Free streaming services not only make money from their premium users, but from advertising.

According to data collected from Spotify, “[…] made just $90 million from its ad-based service last year, compared to a whopping $897 million from its much smaller pool of paid subscribers.” 

Streaming service Tidal, created by artist Jay-Z, is an example of the evolution of these services. Tidal is a paid music service that varies from $9.99 to $19.99 depending on which package you pay for. Tidal strives for the best audio quality money can buy, and that’s certainly what they get. 

If you’re not one of the top artists, you’re really not getting paid much. What can you do? Supporting the artist directly is the best way to go. Buying every song you like may not be an option, but even buying one song or one album could make a big difference. Buying merchandise or concert tickets can also help. The artists you love deserve to be paid for their talents.