How do we define music? Is it always good to hear? What categorizes it along the spectrum of pleasant to unnecessary noise? Is it bounded by the notion that it should be played or sung? As in many facets of the arts, we find it hard to define music or any other art form due
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Gone were the days when people bought vinyl records just to listen to their favorite bands and artists on their clunky vintage record players. Except for vinyl collectors and disc jockeys who still use vinyl for mixing sessions, most people nowadays turn to music streaming services on their smartphones and smart watches to listen to their favorite music.
The landscape of the music industry has definitely changed after all these years. From the invention of cassette tapes, to the sudden popularity of compact discs and other digital media that overshadowed the glory of vinyl records, music is still evolving up to this point. Not buying music but paying services to stream it instead was previously an alien concept, but now in the age of digital media and on-demand service, it has undoubtedly become the new standard.
This evolution is not exclusive to the music industry alone. Perhaps every service, which uses the Internet as its medium or platform sees an ever-changing set of rules, such as online publishing and content production. For instance, the use of video in web publishing was an inconvenient idea before, but current trends in social media have made video a staple in online content platforms.
The rise of streaming music spawned several services like Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play, and Jay-Z’s Tidal that are among the top players in the music streaming industry at present. However, with the ever-changing rules of the industry, who’s to say there won’t be a new player at some point?
That said, despite the dominance of streaming music in today’s culture, there are still some issues that plague the platform, issues that previous forms of music distribution didn’t have. For instance, the subscription cost for these services may seem affordable to consumers, but exactly how much are artists being paid every time their song gets played?
This is one of the gray areas in streaming music, something which is black-and-white to other forms of music distribution such as vinyl and CDs. Transparency is as important an aspect to any business as the quality of the service.
Just last year, the issue of artists getting paid for streaming music was brought to the spotlight, when Taylor Swift wrote a letter to Apple demanding that artists get paid for streaming music on their newly released Apple Music. This issue of unfixed rates is not uncommon in streaming music services, and is usually the subject of debate whether streaming music is a fair practice for artists to get paid for their work. As of now, streaming services like Spotify, Google Play Music and Pandora pay out royalties to artists based on complicated federal laws, but Apple is working on a proposal to set a fixed rate for songwriting royalties.
Likewise, while streaming music is king in the music industry nowadays, vinyl records and other forms of music distribution still haven’t lost their charm. In fact, sales of vinyl albums are still on the rise in the US, with annual sales increasing since 2006, and 2010 seeing the most number of sales recorded when around 2.8 million vinyl albums were sold.
Music streaming is still a hot topic of debate among music producers and music consumers, but we can only be sure of one thing: Music streaming is here to stay as one of the main forms of music distribution and as an easy way for artists to get exposure. Our experience with music streaming services was innovative, to say the least.
Never before has a service allowed us to have access to such a wide variety of tracks, letting the us choose only the tracks we want instead of buying the whole album just for that one song. We have to admit that not worrying about the space where to put those CDs is a plus.
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