The way of listening to music evolves along with the advent of new technology. From vinyl records to cassettes and CD, music has greatly changed over time.
Today, the internet undeniably plays an important part in our daily life. Music can be shared easily via the online channel in ‘MP3’ file among users without having to ‘pay’. Although the online sharing becomes more effortless, the change has brought about a double-edged sword to the music industry.
The online music sharing has become a threat to the artists and the companies that put money, time and energy into the process of making music. As the artists are facing a great loss of revenue from illegal music downloads, the music industry has tried to come up with ways to tackle piracy. One of the examples was the iTunes platform where music tracks can be selectively paid and downloaded without having to buy the entire album. Nowadays, music streaming is another way to curb the illegal downloads. This new distribution outlet has made a growing business that generates more revenue to the music industry. Streaming music service meets the needs of music listeners when almost every song is available on the music platform in exchange of only a few hundred baht subscription per month.
More streaming services are entering the market for the competition. Spotify is a dominant player that uses recommendation algorithms to benefit listeners. Tidal offers a High Fidelity sound quality. Apple Music negotiates with big record labels. Joox hits the market with the free music streaming and is popular among Thai users. Thai streaming service like Fungjai showcases independent artists. Different services and functionalities offer more choices for music listeners.
Despite the growing competition in the market, artists are not earning enough from music streaming. The concept sounds simple: more streams generated, more percentage payout to the labels. However, there were reports which show that the metrics of per-stream royalties do not give a fair amount of payment to artists. Artists like Taylor Swift or Thom Yorke (Radiohead) had once took a stand against Spotify streaming service.
Looking from a different point of view, music streaming is a large platform that allows users to discover new artists. Up and coming artists can see the benefits of streaming platforms like Youtube and SoundCloud as a ground for them to emerge. Artists are free to release their work and consumers are free to listen. It may seem complicated to calculate a concrete revenue for artists sharing their music, but the streaming can be a space for listeners to try out before buying CD albums.
Like Piyoros Lakkham, a music columnist said, “we must accept the change of music industry. Artists and labels are adapting and looking towards the use of new media, especially online and streaming, which are the tool for other sources of revenue.”
The evolution of music in different era is no doubt the result of our ways of listening to music that change over time. If streaming is the future of music, artists must as well consider adapting and embracing the changes. Thus, streaming music services should also come up with fair deals to support artists both on and under the radar.