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Music is Life.” Or so I used to scribble in the margins of my spiral notebooks in middle school. Music has always evolved for me to meet me where I’m at. So although I no longer write my music afflictions in graffiti format, like an adult, I do subscribe to music services. Really I do it because buying music in the old piece-by-piece format, ie. CDs, costs more than a single month of streaming almost anything I want at anytime. But what has this greater streaming model done to the music industry?

How Spotify Helps Artists

Spotify app on iPhone
Spotify app on iPhone

Spotify, the Swedish born streaming giant, has been redefining the music industry since its birth in 2006. As with a lot of great business ideas, Spotify took an existing model and reimagined how it could function in the modern mobile age, which once again, created another platform for artists to distribute their art. The music industry has long been marred with distribution models that teeter on the line of “compensation by exposure” and busking, and Spotify isn’t much different. Artists have to choose how best to bring their art to the public and almost always it involves compromising.

Streaming your music doesn’t pay, everyone knows that, but if you don’t and you’re an independent artist (as in, you’re not signed by a label), good luck getting listeners. This compensation model gets a bit harder to digest when you are, however, a popular artist. If you follow anything about these streaming platforms you know that big name artists pull their discography from one platform to another all in the hopes of getting what they’re owed. Even still, some artists create their own platforms to hopefully regain the financial trickle that was once a downpour. Overall, the financial woes of the music industry are easy to tune out when I’m still earning barely more than minimum wage, but still, the algorithm behind earning $.00318 per stream is disheartening.

Saving Indie Music

Indie artist playing guitar on street
Indie artist playing guitar on street

I’ve been playing music and recording DIY albums for years so I can tell you that without this streaming model, I don’t think anyone would have ever heard the music that I was a part of creating. The bands I’ve been in could never afford to press all that vinyl or copy all of those CDs, never mind distributing them. Spotify is in some ways, our only hope of getting noticed. The dream of getting placed on a widespread playlist is everything, and we’re more than willing to give away our music to do so.

Successful Indie Artists on Spotify:
  • Glass Animals
  • Conner Youngblood
  • Tones and I
  • Nyxen

It may be hard to believe that on the whole; I think what Spotify is doing to the music industry is good. An avenue to get exposure is everything to an artist. Competition is a good thing, and while there may only be 5 or so major players in the music streaming wars, good always begets great. Spotify is pushing the industry forward, but it is a process that takes time. Sadly, artists will come and go during that time, all in the hopes that one day the music industry will have a revenue model that works well for all parties involved. If this age of technology has taught us anything, it’s that more companies will come in the wake of what Spotify is doing. Now, that doesn’t necessarily mean that Spotify itself will dissolve away, but the future always holds promise for those with patience.

What are your thoughts on how Spotify is changing the music industry? Let us know down in the comments.

This article originally published on GREY Journal.

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