Stream Of Conscience
I’m not a user... but yes, I’ve used. I am an overly passionate music lover who feels guilty while streaming music. While technologically superior and convenient, the artist gets screwed. Lucky to receive pennies per play, the yield is a fraction of cd, or paid downloads like iTunes.
For the price of a cd, a streamer can access an entire universe of recorded music. So what’s really not to like? Well, there may be consequences. With music sales lower then ever, artists and record companies are forced into alternative arrangements with each other. Artists must surrender portions of all potential revenue generators like touring and merchandising to their labels. Labels are far more discriminating about signing artists due to the high risks and minimal returns. The result: fewer artists willing to enter the industry as labels cherry-pick fewer bands and artists. The listener gets less.
Although I choose not to stream, I know the majority of people do. So without further ado, here is my virtual ride, surfing the waves of some of the most advanced and popular streaming music services.
With about 25 million active listeners, Spotify has some great qualities, but also a few drawbacks. With a massive music library of over 20-million songs, the service is free before escalating to $9.99/month to get rid of those annoying ads . The first 10-hours is still free. Compatible on all major devices, Spotify captures the benefits of social media for sharing with friends. Yet, commercials are unavoidable–unless you want to pay to upgrade to premium that is.
Pandora is another popular streaming service. Pandora allows listeners to create personalized radio stations based on genres, artists and favorites. And as a token of kindness, Pandora creates suggested “music genomes”, in response. While restricting rewind or replay, commercials can be avoided via muting, or page refreshing.
iTunes Radio is the best streaming service in my opinion. Native to all of its products, you’re a click away from well-organized playlists and customizable “stations,”along with exclusive content. The most creative and practical presentation comes at a price, commercials.
Because iHeart Radio’s streaming includes live access to over 1,500 affiliated radio stations, there are no ads. So feel free to delve into its library, or have a blast creating your own stations. However, be warned: the platform is clumsy and not worth the effort unless you have loyalty to an out of reach radio station.
Now trending –- Beats Music from Dr. Dre Beats Electronics. Beats Music differentiates itself from the competition having its listeners partake in an initial psychoanalytic survey. While Beats goes furthest in understanding listener preferences, the questions are annoying and intrusive between songs. As duration, frequency, volume and location are monitored, privacy is sacrificed. One week free, than ante up.
Owning music is as important, to me, as selling music is to artists. I consume at will, and support artists and their labels with my dollar votes. Although streaming is easy, accessible, and cheap, I am loyal to the industry. Streaming works for listeners, and the companies selling streams to them, but not so much for the performers and producers. The fate of streaming is not guaranteed until artists, sellers, and consumers find a model that satisfies all parties.