Take Two: The cost of freedom

Emily Jacobsson and Pauline Villegas

When it comes to free music streaming services, there is often debate on whose needs hold precedence: the artists or the listeners.

Emily Jacobsson: With all the new music being released, I’ve been thinking a lot lately about free music streaming services.

Pauline Villegas: Yeah, I think those are so cool! It gives everyone the opportunity to listen to the music they love!

EJ: But don’t you think it essentially robs artists of their money? After putting in hard work, they don’t receive fair payoff.

PV: I heard somewhere that depending on the number of streams they have, these apps pay the labels themselves, so that these artists can make even more music!

EJ: You’re right, they do pay per stream, but hardly anything at all. For example, Spotify pays 3/500 of a penny per stream. An average three minute song, even if streamed nonstop for 24 hours, would only make the artist $2.

PV: Yeah that is hardly anything! But imagine the alternative, a couple years ago people would just pirate the music for free. Now they are able to safely listen to the music they want legally.

EJ: I see your point, but piracy is still happening with music streaming services. When Kanye West released “The Life Of Pablo” on his music streaming service Tidal, over a million fans signed up so they could hear it, but half of the million torrented the album just on the first day. Most people tend to choose convenience over doing the right thing.

PV: Yeah people suck (but Kanye is perfect)! However, I don’t think we should make our conclusion based on those bad people. They can’t handle this freedom, but think of the millions of people that free music services do benefit, like the kids that can’t pay for a monthly fee.

EJ: I feel for those kids. Yet, we still have to consider both sides of the spectrum. Maybe for larger artists, Taylor Swift for example, it would seem petty to keep their music off streaming services due to financial profit. However, as she said, Swift was acting as the voice of smaller independent artists. For them, the money they earn from streaming services amounts to hardly a third of the costs of production. You wouldn’t expect a painting to be given away for free, why is music different?

PV: True that man, I see your point. But for most of these small independent artists, getting their name out there is what’s important. Even before music streaming, the money artists make mainly comes from merchandise and concert tickets sold. For these young artists, being streamed on these major apps is allowing them more exposure to create a larger fanbase.

EJ: That’s fair, but we can hardly evaluate the monetary results based off a hypothetical situation. Few artists actually make it to that point. The best way to support them is by purchasing their music from the start. While it is sad to see so much of an artform be motivated by money, it’s the reality.

PV: Yes, we live in a sad world. However, we can make it better by having music be available to everyone at no cost. You know, spreading the love and stuff.

EJ: Spreading the love sounds nice, but I think we can do it in a way that keeps both the listeners and artists happy.