Streaming signals shift in industry

As time progresses, the way people listen to music has progressed from CD’s to streaming services such as Spotify, Apple Music and SoundCloud.

Streaming is changing the face of the music industry.

In 2016, 50 percent of all U.S. music industry revenue was generated by streaming music services, according to the Recording Industry Association of America.

Micah Hayes, senior lecturer of music industry studies, surveyed one of his classes and found six out of eight students listen to music through Spotify and the remaining two listen through YouTube, he said.

“[Streaming is] a huge change because 10 years ago, that didn’t exist really,” Hayes said. “It was mostly iTunes and people’s personal collections.”

Hayes said he does not know if CDs will survive, because streaming services are the most popular medium through which people listen to music.

In high school, Hayes said he spent thousands of dollars on CDs because it was the only way to listen to music, so it is nice to have another option.

CDs can be expensive over time, Hayes said. If a person doesn’t know every song, then they don’t know if they will like the album and if purchasing is worth the investment.

Before 2010, nursing junior Alexa Westbrook said she listened to music through CDs. Now, she streams her music and recently invested in an Apple Music student subscription.

Westbrook said she listens to different genres, including pop music when she works out at the gym and classical music when she studies for her exams, so her subscription is worth it for her.

Construction management sophomore Reyna Munoz said she does not remember the last time she bought a CD, but her parents still buy and listen to them.

She has a family subscription to Spotify premium that holds up to six people so she and her five friends can share the plan, Munoz said. One person pays the bill for all members of the plan.

However, Munoz said Pandora is better than Spotify, because it curates better stations with more similar artists.

Music in the past was centered around dances and festivals and now it’s centered around profits and sales, Hayes said. Music in the future may be centered less around money and more artistic freedom, he said.

In the past, people listened to complete albums from beginning to end, Hayes said. However, now people listen to individual songs more because of the skip feature on streaming services.

Artists have more creative freedom due to streaming services. More and more people can record music due to technological advancements, Hayes said.

Streaming services pay different royalty rates, Hayes said. Big artists such as singer-songwriter Taylor Swift earn more than small artists, including local bands in the Metroplex.

Sometimes, Westbrook does not download any songs or albums in a month, and her subscription does not seem worth it, she said. Other times, her subscription is worth it because she downloads 15 to 20 songs or an entire album.

In the future, Hayes said music will be less compressed and have better quality as bandwidth and hard drives increase. He said he thinks maybe there will be cheaper subscription prices and a better user interface for those who stream music.

“You never know what’s going to happen with technology,” Hayes said.


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