Back in the day, our parents kept vinyl records in pristine shape and rewound broken cassette tapes with their pencils. Today, we can replay our favorite tracks over and over again with no wear and tear. Music has become encoded into bits and bytes, portable digital files that can be transferred, shared and uploaded for millions of listeners across the world to enjoy.
Never in history has music been as easily accessible as it is now. The music industry now has to figure out how to make a profit. It has not typically been good at that.
After Napster made music files instantly downloadable for no cost, the music industry went into denial. It continued business as usual and tried all the same techniques for marketing and didn’t realize that its profits were all being sunk by illegal downloads. Had Steve Jobs not loved music as much as he did and created the iTunes store, it is very likely that the music business would have sunk into an even deeper hole.
Now, the music industry has begun to realize that it must adapt to changing times. They have begun to accept streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music as the future and have adjusted their strategies accordingly. What I hope to achieve in writing this is that you will consume music in a way that compensates artists for their work.
That being said, I’m not going to lecture you about how it pays for the artist and how it’s the right thing to do, because preaching is ineffective. If the music industry cannot prove to its consumers why paying for its product is better than ripping it off for free, then it deserves to fail. What I am saying is that using these streaming services as a music consumer is significantly more valuable than downloading music illegally.
Streaming sites like Spotify, Apple Music and Tidal offer student rates for their Premium services. For the cost of a Subway sandwich, you can enjoy whatever music you want anytime and anywhere without having to listen through advertisements. These streaming services provide a better quality sound and is much less likely to infect your computer with viruses.
Part of this is a philosophical issue. Musicians have to get comfortable with the idea of releasing music through these nontraditional formats, and music consumers need to get comfortable with the idea of paying for access to that work. Still, this is definitely progress towards a music ecosystem that gives consumers access to music while also compensating artists for making it.
Eitan Snyder is a sophomore majoring in music business.
Featured photo courtesy Pixabay user egonkling.