STORY BY CHRIS FAIRBANK
Controversy is in the air after Taylor Swift has pulled her entire discography off Spotify. Now, let’s be honest, most of us are a little upset that we can no longer stream her heartbreak-anthems during a Thursday night power hour, but apparently that’s not the only reason consumers are distraught.
As it stands, the millennial generation has concluded that music should be free or, at the very least, we shouldn’t be the ones paying for it. Granted, music has become wildly accessible and, in many cases, can be obtained without cost, but is this acceptable?
There are a handful of reasons why we justify this position.
Many of us are under the assumption these artists don’t really need the money, that they won’t notice the loss of one sale or that their music isn’t even worth the pennies they would receive if we were to buy it.
Music sales are down by 14 percent this year alone, which follows the eight percent decline in 2013. Unsurprisingly, as sales have decreased, streaming has wildly increased by an impressive 46 percent. This makes Swift’s 1.3 million first-week album sales all the more impressive.
However, the systemic problem is much bigger than the pop stars it wishes to undermine. That’s right, the refusal to pay for music exponentially hurts the do-it-yourself independent artists more than the effect it has on mainstream music.
And that’s because Spotify really doesn’t pay for it’s music.
In reality, an artist makes $0.007 per play from the streaming service. This means they would have to achieve 10,000 streams per day to make minimum wage.
Sure, that number is a breeze when you’re an established global superstar, but for the average Joe, that type of success is truly unachievable — especially when they could make the same money by only selling 10 albums a day.
And if Spotify is the way of the future, what does that really mean for the next generation of music makers? The Internet has provided the music community with a wealth of avid listeners, but it has also created a culture of unrewarding-consumers.
And while there are a variety of possible outcomes, I am most worried about one: That the price of art — in all of its forms — will be less than the cost of producing it.
So, although it’s not all that surprising that Swift may never ever, ever be getting back together with Spotify, we should still be concerned with the thousands of other artists who are still in the unsatisfying relationship.
If we continue to devalue music, we can expect to see more of the same color-by-number songs that we love to complain about, but hey, at least we don’t have to pay for it.