At some point, all of us have asked the question; What does streaming music mean? We all learned the concept of owning music in one way or another, but the tendency to stream music is one that is of more recent discovery.
The music industry is constantly evolving and the way music is shared across the world has always been changing. Let’s dive into this concept of streaming music and better understand what this looks like and how it benefits both consumers and artists!
- How Did Things Work Before Streaming Music?
- How Has Sharing Music Evolved?
- What Does Streaming Music Mean?
- What Are The Benefits of Streaming Music?
- How Does Streaming Music Benefit The Artists?
- How Can I Get Started Streaming Music?
How Did Things Work Before Streaming Music?
Before we actually immerse ourselves in the details of what it means to stream music, let’s take a look back at some earlier days of sharing and selling music.
Once upon a time, we used to actually have to get dressed, get out of bed, get off the couch, leave our homes, and go to the store to buy music. We would wait weeks for an album to drop and sometimes we would even be forced to go wait in a line outside of a record or music store just to have a chance to be one of the lucky people to get a copy!
How Has Sharing Music Evolved?
Since the days of Records and lining up outside of record stores, we have seen the introduction of radios, cassettes, compact discs (CDs), file formats (like MP3s), paid downloads (like iTunes and Napster). We then saw the introduction of applications like Pandora, which allowed for free, customizable, online radio.
Pandora sparked a huge shift through which we saw the introduction of algorithms into the mix. Once a user could notate that they “liked” or “disliked” a particular song, artist, or station, the algorithm could help recommend other music that the user may also enjoy. Obviously, while this was occurring, a number of additional competitors entered the space as well.
When smartphones were introduced in the 2000s, the concept of applications on a mobile device was finally realized. No longer did you need a functional desktop or laptop computer to utilize these services and apps.
What Does Streaming Music Mean?
According to lifewire, streaming is a way of delivering music without requiring you to download files from the internet. Music services like Spotify, Pandora, and Apple Music use this method to provide songs that can be enjoyed on all types of devices.
Streaming is different than the previously discussed concept of purchasing songs and albums individually and having them in a physical form or saved on your computer or device’s hard drive. In simple terms, when a user is logged into a streaming service they essentially have the ability to search for music, and the search results display small packets of data so that when a user decides to play a song, that song can be quickly accessed and played without interruption, assuming that the device has a sufficient data connection.
What Are The Benefits of Streaming Music?
One of the most attractive benefits of streaming music is that it is free in most cases, as long as the user is willing to accept a few advertisements here and there between songs. In most cases, users have the option to pay a fee for a “Preferred” or “Premium” subscription that allows them to bypass those advertisements. Obviously, streaming music also allows for the user to listen practically anytime, and anywhere. Whether you are on your way to work, at the gym, or just drowning out noise at a family party, these streaming services have you covered. Also, since you are no longer owning music, you have eliminated the need for physical storage and no longer have to worry about damaging your cassettes, CDs, etc.
How Does Streaming Music Benefit The Artists?
Streaming music may not produce the album selling numbers that selling music used to, on iTunes for instance, but it does compensate those who write and produce the music. Spotify, for example, pays about $0.006-$0.0084 to per stream to the holder of music rights. Unfortunately though, that can then be split between the record label, the musician, the writer, and the producer. This means that 500,000 play on Spotify generates approximately $3,500. For big musicians, this can be easy extra money. However, for those just starting out or trying to make a name for themselves, this means pennies.
How Can I Get Started Streaming Music?
Some of the most common streaming services are; Amazon Music, Apple Music, and Spotify. If we take a look at Spotify, my personal favorite, you can begin using this service by visiting the website through the link above or by downloading the app on your phone or tablet. You will want to click on the sign-up page, and follow the instructions to set up your personal account and add payment information. You have the option to subscribe to a premium service which removes the advertisements as well as offers superior functionality and customization. Once you have set up an account, you can alter your listening preferences, favorite artists, and you can even “follow” your friends to stay up to date on their listening habits and customized playlists.
One of my favorite features of Spotify is the section where you can see playlists that Spotify has created for you based on your listening preferences. One of my favorites is called “Discover Weekly,” which is typically comprised of songs similar to those I have listened to and new releases from some artists I follow! I can even follow the discover weekly playlists that are recommended to friends of mine, whom I know share similar listening preferences.
Streaming music is not for everyone, and the old-school options are still in existence and available to those who prefer to stick with the way things have always been done, or see value in physically owning copies of music. These listeners are certainly appreciated by those who create the music! But as most other things involving technology, the music industry has evolved and everyone has to adapt in one way or another. The introduction of streaming music has been a crucial step in helping to create a way for music fans to access a substantially larger amount of music than ever before, and create stiffer competition amongst music artists. In this scenario, I believe the competition is great for the industry and those who love music.
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