Streaming music and Internet: a blessing or a curse?

November 14, 2019

The artist point of view

What do the artists interviewed by Jazzespresso think about Internet and the new frontiers of streaming music distribution?

> Ivano Rossato

Streaming itself is good thing, what is bad is how corporations are handling the stream in terms of what they’re willing to give to the artist. The technology is great, what is terrible is the greed, the cancer of modern world.
There was a time, not so long ago, when an artist could create an album on their own and recoup their costs and then some, by being smart about the recording process and then selling their album on their own. That time is over. Now streaming revenues are pennies. Unfortunately, far too many people are under the impression that all music is ‘free’. It may be free to consume, but it is certainly not free to record. Eventually I think that we will see a time where many musicians simply can no longer afford to record and produce their own recordings. That’s a very sad potential future. Regarding the challenges of a modern musician: Today, so much is required of a musician that is far beyond the music. One must excel at marketing and social presence. It’s almost as if everyone is competing for attention all the time, just to survive in our modern, short-term memory world of media consumption.

The streaming and free distribution of music has basically destroyed most of the foundation that the music industry was based on. Now you can’t really make money off your records. As an artist you have to take a holistic approach. (Chris McQueen – Snarky Puppy/FORQ)

I have conflicting opinions. On the one side, platforms such as Spotify are incredible because you can find practically all the music you like. Even too much! And maybe this abundance is disorienting old style people, like me. I still love to go into a record shop where the owners know my tastes and can give me some advice and propose artists I could be interested in. On the other side, then, there’s the aspect of the artists’ compensation, and honestly the earning is practically null, there’s no comparison with the earnings deriving from the sale of traditional records. And this is a problem, because to continue to write and develop new music you need a minimum earning to carry on. In a long term vision, then, I don’t think it is sustainable, because if the artist is not able to survive with his own music, then he won’t even have the time to develop new things.
I’m not one of those musicians who are trying to oppose themselves to the spread of streaming and downloading. Technology is too seducing and convenient, I myself use it continually to discover new music that I could never be able to find in any other way. We don’t enjoy music anymore in that intimate way as it happened when we were younger, when we couldn’t afford buying a lot of records and therefore we were always listening to the same music. I deem that a professional musician’s income should mainly derive from live shows, as it was in the past, when the only way to record and sell an album was that of signing up for an important label. Nowadays anybody can record by spending less money than in past times, but to be able to live of your music you still have to be really very good.
Michael League – Snarky Puppy
Some musicians are really upset about the loss of revenue that they might be experiencing from streaming, and I hope that eventually there is a way to include the musician more in the revenue than is built from streaming. But I don’t mind it as much as others, I kinda feel in some ways it’s being good for me, because a lot of people around the world that wouldn’t know my music if it wasn’t for a streaming medium, if they like it oftentimes they might buy the record or some of my books, and I’ve been lucky enough to be hired to a concert just because people found me through streaming platforms. Technology is here and it’s not going anywhere so it’s useless to fight it. Streaming is a new way for advertising yourself.
More than ever has it been easier to promote your own music to a global audience. One reason to have your music on streaming sites like Spotify is in the hope of getting onto one of the big playlists where there are thousands of listeners. The streaming services should be thought of as a shop window rather than a source of income. I have found that many people who have discovered my music through Spotify playlists, for example, go straight to Bandcamp to order the CD or vinyl. Bandcamp’s option for fans to donate more money to the artists is a very important factor in helping an artist to grow.
Streaming music and Internet: a blessing or a curse? copyright Jazzespresso 2019.
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