Do you reckon an "ethical" streaming service is viable?


#1

Cue responses telling me that there are already platforms doing this…but I meant do you ever think a reasonable service could compete with Spotify/Apple/Google whilst paying much more than the going £0.006?


#2

Make Spotify £50 a month.


#3

We’re really not at the stage where it is feasible to have this type of debate. Music streaming technology is only really still in its infancy. The current streaming service providers have been so preoccupied with creating the sharing infrastructure and working out licencing deals etc, that the industry is really behind that of other popular apps and tech “unicorns” in terms of things such as social networking capabilities, user experience, and interface design. The back end of streaming technology infrastructure is really not much different from that of any mp3 store. It’s unlikely that issues such as “ethics” (whatever that term means to you) will become a thing until second generation streaming platforms exist, which build upon the base established by current providers.

The interesting change happening to the industry right now is that now Spotify has reached 100 million subscribers, finance firms are very interested in investing in these companies. As no major streaming company has ever turned a profit and most are operated as loss-leaders to sell other services owned by the parent company, it will interesting to see how that money is invested.


#4

What do you mean by ethical? As in, artists getting paid a lot more for their streams?


#5

Reckon a tip jar service where a button on the bands/albums page is ever present and you can tip the musicians as and whenever as much or as little as you feel and just add that to the total revenue sent across (because sending to artists direct will probably create it’s own problems)


#6

Essentially yeah. It’s not that ethical options aren’t available yet, including websites such as Bandcamp and physical album sales, but they are trumped by the convenience of the major streaming companies. Sadly however I assume the majority of streaming users aren’t too fussed who their money goes to (or at least unaware of it), so to really change the market an accessible, ethical alternative is needed.


#7

Yeah, this is kind of what I feared, I presume if you look at the demographic needs (in regards to music streaming), “fair” pay to artists come some way behind convenience, social media links and even cost to the consumer. Sometimes I live in a DiS bubble where everyone is disgusted by the amount artists get paid, when the reality is that this is far from the overall consensus.


#8

Really? I thought the opposite was true here. Everyone seems to want to support the artists that they like.


#9

disgusted by how little they are paid…apologies for my poor grammar


#10

I agree, however expecting Spotify or Apple etc to adopt fair licencing and remuneration policies towards artists (or “content creators” as they see them) is not really realistic. Multi-national corporations aren’t exactly renowned for fairness, ethics and looking out for the little guy. Artists have been getting screwed over by major labels, awful publishing deals, poor management etc for decades, and now they are also being paid pitiful amounts per stream. Looking at the bigger picture, streaming inevitably supports the label system that has been making it harder and harder to be a full time musician.


#11

This might sound glib, but an alternative is to probably buy the album you’ve listened to half a dozen times on Spotify, if you’ve enjoyed it.

I may be in the minority, but I tend to treat platforms like Spotify (which I don’t use a lot in any case) and Bandcamp (which I use a lot more often) as a ‘try before you buy’ option rather than as an alternative to avoid buying something.


#12

In fact, Bandcamp does sometimes prompt you to pay for an album/song once you’ve listened to it a few times - although this might be a setting imposed by the artist, I dunno.


#13

I wasn’t so much making a case for an ethical alternative for people on this website…generally people more into their music will contribute a lot of their disposable income on physical albums, downloads and live performances. The problem is whether this group of people will be enough to maintain the less popular factions of the music industry for much longer.


#14

The further problem to this is, in a hypothetical situation, any prospective new service that does try to contribute more to the artists they host is already behind big companies in terms of turnover and financial backing. Bandcamp has been mentioned in this thread a few times but it can only be a matter of years before it goes the way of Soundcloud I presume.


#15

The difference between Bandcamp and Soundcloud etc is that it is user-generated content, so it is not dependant on major labels (or indies that operate like majors). To be a large scale streaming service, you need this content (or exclusives from major artists), and so need to operate under the terms dictated by major labels. (Youtube is the only real exception to this because of historical reasons).

Bandcamp is different from Soundcloud as it does not have the baggage and history of pirated content. Bandcamp are also quite secretive with a lot of their financial information, so it is difficult to say how viable Bandcamp is long term. Personally, I think they are a great platform and I use it loads so I hope they can stick around and keep carving out their niche.


#16

I thought this was a good piece: https://musicindustryblog.wordpress.com/2017/01/03/heres-why-vinyl-isnt-about-to-save-the-music-business-and-why-albums-need-rethinking/

(The Music Industry Blog is pretty great as a whole for talking realistically about streaming, although recently a lot of their pieces are trying to puchasing you into purchasing their own research).


#17

Oh, yeah, I was only trying to make a very general point. Although the Bandcamp limits on the number of plays is probably a pertinent one as that’s a way you could prompt listeners to part with their cash.


#18

yep, let’s get those spotify execs the new houses they deserve


#19

I think something that’s more ethical to consumers would be good too.

£120 is a lot for a music fan to spend on access to music, especially when you consider most people (i.e. not diehard music nuts like us) on average probably listen to the same 30 or so albums they already own on CD/vinyl and then probably check out 20 or so new albums a year. £120 seems like a lot to access 50 albums, so a lot of people don’t spend it.

Obviously you CAN access almost all the music ever released for £120 but the reality is most people don’t and they don’t care about hearing 30 new tracks a week or the 5 latest major label releases, especially when if they pay for Spotify and AppleMusic they don’t get Beyonce or Taylor Swift, etc.

Seems to me a service that was say 99p a week to play a playlist of 99 tracks (as realistically, who has time to listen to more more than that in a week?) and pays 0.5p or even 1p per stream (meaning there’s still a bit of profit to cover operating costs if it scales or if people only listen to say 30 songs).

Like, if DiS had a service that was basically my Independent Music Monday playlist of 20 new tracks plus 2 new albums (maybe even pre-release exclusives!) and 2 classic albums everyone should hear, that rotate each week, for 99p (or say £40 per year), that would be a pretty sweet deal, right? And if you want to hear a similar selection from Popjustice or Uncut or Pitchfork or Katy Perry or Deftones or Reading Festival or End of the Road or Sub Pop, that was another 99p per week.

It would focus people’s listening and maybe be bit a more in line with what people are happy to pay per year, and feel manageable and like there was some value to it.

I wanted to do this ages ago but it seemed too far-fetched. It’s starting to see more realistic now though.


#20

what? that’s £2.40 an album. how on earth does that seem a lot?