With all of the Taylor Swift articles lately, I know I’m a little late to the party with this article about artists vs. streaming services. However, I won’t be focusing solely on Taylor in this. It’s important to know how streaming can affect different artists in different ways. Sure, someone who is a huge, mainstream artist like Taylor Swift would make a whole lot more money from album sales instead of streaming. That’s pretty much true of any artists. The difference is, streaming services need Taylor, but she by no means needs them.
I currently run a small, digital-only record label, Wreck It Records. I’ve only worked with about three bands, but in the year I’ve been working on this label, I’ve learned a lot more than I thought I would. With a couple of the artists, we decided to digital distribution for streaming services instead of our initial plan of just releasing the album on Bandcamp. We all know that not a ton of people will buy the album. And that was expected from the start. So why not make the music available in as many ways as possible? If these artists already aren’t making money on album sales, it doesn’t hurt them to have their music on streaming services. In fact, it helps them get more exposure. Someone could be listening to a similar artist and stumble upon their music, or they can be listening to a playlist someone made and one of the songs could be on there leading them to check out the full album. For smaller to medium sized bands, I believe it makes a ton of sense to have your music on streaming services.
I understand why Taylor took her music off of Spotify and some other services. She felt it devalued her work and that’s okay for her to do. She can afford to do it. She’s smart enough to know her album will sell and she’ll continue to sell out the majority, if not all, of her shows on her tours. She doesn’t need the exposure because she’s already one of the biggest artists in the world. But you still have mainstream artists and musicians, like Dave Grohl, who also know it doesn’t hurt to still get money from streaming services because they know it will lead to things like merchandise or ticket sales. That is the same mindset smaller bands have (or should have) about streaming services.
So as far as my label and the artists I work with go, I believe the reasons stated above are enough to make it worthwhile to put their music on streaming services. It’s not hurting the label and it’s not hurting the artists. It’s a good way to spread the word about your work and it allows fans to listen to it however they please. It’s more convenient for your fans, and that’s ultimately what matters, right? Fans are the reason any artists ever make money. Without them, artists and even labels would not exist. Streaming is the future of the music industry, whether artists like it or not. It’s too convenient to be ignored.