The knee jerk response to this question is usually, “Why pay for something I can get for free?” I’m going to tell you right now that there is no argument against this concept, and if you’re looking for free, this article isn’t going to convince you otherwise.
I would like to appeal to people who don’t mind carving a little money out of their budget for art in the form of music. Keeping in mind that there are actually legal ways to get music for free. They’re called libraries. If you’re fortunate enough to live in a city that has a decent library system, you can request that they add an album to their collection and Ta Da! It’s there, for free. Well, not completely free. Your tax dollars paid for it, but you see my point that the filthy rich artist still gets paid.
Ten dollars a month can add up, but it’s not unreasonable to gain access to 20 million songs instantly. We take it for granted that we can pretty much call up any movie, song, or television clip on demand. We’ve come to expect a level of quality from these instantaneous streaming services, and that level of quality isn’t cheap to deliver. Companies like Netflix actually pay Internet service providers to fast track their content.
Like it or not, streaming is the future of music. The only people who will continue to buy physical albums will be collectors. Some artists will fight it and a few will even make it big in spite of being absent from the streaming market, but they will be outliers. Music is a business, and if you want to make enough money to live comfortably in any industry, people need access to your product.
There are quite a few streaming services yet none of them are making a profit. Right now they are bogged down with hefty payouts to the record labels that own the music you want to hear. I see a future where an artist can go directly to a streaming service and negotiate a deal to publish their music on the service.
For the consumer, music will always be about community and discovery. Streaming leverages the Internet to enhance those dynamics. Whether you choose Apple, Spotify, Tidal, Google Play, YouTube, Pandora or Soundcloud, rediscovering classics and enjoying recommendations from a friend is crucial to you getting the most out of the streaming community. When trying to decide which service to go with, consider your listening habits. The features each service has are the biggest difference maker because they all license the same collections. Some services tout exclusive content while others harp on the quality of their sound or other exclusive subscriber only events.
Technology is not going backwards. Streaming is the only way to give the next generation of artists a chance. Instant access to over 20 million songs for around $10 bucks a month is a pretty sweet deal.