Every musician out there who’s ever struggled with the question “How do I promote my music?” has likely also struggled with the boiling hot controversy surrounding online streaming services and personal ethics.
From Spotify to Grooveshark, from Pandora to Rdio, chances are, if those online music streaming apps aren’t already nestled on your iPhone, then you’ve come across their name in the news during the past year or so. But what exactly is the controversy surrounding the music streaming business? What are the pros and cons?
And how do online music streaming services affect you?
On one hand, streaming apps and websites like Pandora, Grooveshark, and Spotify provide music fans with an incredible opportunity: jazz, pop, blues, rap, rock, indie music, and folk songs at the touch of a button. Most services are free, include the occasional ad, and offer premium packages which allow you to skip songs, create playlists, and listen ad-free to your heart’s content.
But on the other hand, while such a music service certainly benefits the everyday shower-belting, air-guitaring listener, it can mean not so great things for the actual artists behind the app. From Pink Floyd’s USA Today open letter, “Pandora’s Internet Radio Royalty Ripoff” to David Lowery’s post “My Song Got Played On Pandora 1 Million Times and All I Got was $16.89,” the issue of fair (or not so fair) artist compensation has gotten a lot of attention recently.
Some streaming service companies claim they’ll always side with the artist. Others have publically backed institutions like the Internet Radio Fairness Act, which could stand to reduce royalty checks by a whopping 85%. And others still have tried their hardest to provide services quietly, staying in the background of the heated music battle.
But as a fellow artist, what can you do?
The honest truth? Stay as informed as possible. Read up on what each streaming service is up to, listen to fellow musicians speak up and speak out about artist compensation, and if you learn something that rubs you the wrong way, take another look at what apps you’re supporting on a day to day basis.