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Are Music Streaming Services Ethical?


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I didn't get bitten by the streaming bug 'til I tried out Apple Music around 6 months ago; I tried Spotify and the lot but didn't really get into it cus of the bad interface (+ ogg vorbis). Once I found out that Apple Music had seamless integration with their library and your local library + tag editing I was hooked, the convenience of this platform has made it almost impossible to go back to my 100% local library. The question that's been biting me ever since has been, "Is this moral?" not only is Apple (and every other streaming service) paying artists close to nothing, but also technically restricting the user's freedom with DRM.

 

Are streaming services further contributing to the corporate control over the music industry by shafting indie labels and individuals in the name of convenience? Do they cheapen the art form? Is any of this morally acceptable? 

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I didn't get bitten by the streaming bug 'til I tried out Apple Music around 6 months ago; I tried Spotify and the lot but didn't really get into it cus of the bad interface (+ ogg vorbis). Once I found out that Apple Music had seamless integration with their library and your local library + tag editing I was hooked, the convenience of this platform has made it almost impossible to go back to my 100% local library. The question that's been biting me ever since has been, "Is this moral?" not only is Apple (and every other streaming service) paying artists close to nothing, but also technically restricting the user's freedom with DRM.

 

Are streaming services further contributing to the corporate control over the music industry by shafting indie labels and individuals in the name of convenience? Do they cheapen the art form? Is any of this morally acceptable?

Have a streaming subscription has never stopped me buying music. Why should it stop you?

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Have a streaming subscription has never stopped me buying music. Why should it stop you?

It hasn't stopped me from buying from indies or individuals on Bandcamp who haven't added their library to streaming services, in fact, It's actually made me spend more of my money on them. It's just the people who actually have made their libraries available for streaming that are making me ask questions. Sure I might still be buying little odds and ends from them that aren't available, but I can't justify spending my money on something that I can already get on Apple Music since I'm paying $10 a month.

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Have a streaming subscription has never stopped me buying music. Why should it stop you?

It hasn't stopped me from buying from indies or individuals on Bandcamp who haven't added their library to streaming services, in fact, It's actually made me spend more of my money on them. It's just the people who actually have made their libraries available for streaming that are making me ask questions. Sure I might still be buying little odds and ends from them that aren't available, but I can't justify spending my money on something that I can already get on Apple Music since I'm paying $10 a month.

Then you’re part of the problem

 

I regularly buy vinyl and tape copies of releases on streaming services.

 

What you’re participating in is essentially “legit pirate downloads” as I call it.

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This is an interesting conversation.

 

I too have been enamoured of the convenience and synergy Apple Music provides. I find myself more inclined to simply listen to a release via streaming versus buying even the digital download, let alone the physical product. I do still buy releases from artists I want to support, though.

 

It's just too damn easy. Is it ethical? Depends on if you feel artists are not being paid fairly for their works to be streaming - I know in Spotify's case, that's certainly true (I have no idea if Apple has disclosed how much (or little) they pay their artists.

 

I think considering how much Apple is making from its streaming services, surely the business model can support paying artists a more fair percentage of the profits from said streams?

 

And, I think despite the rise in streaming services, vinyl sales are up, so there is still ways for artists to recapture profits lost from the streaming model not being equitable at the moment.

 

Perhaps like how CDs were overpriced when they first came out and then stabilized, streaming too will find that equilibrium.

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buy stuff from bandcamp and upload it to google play music. give money to artists, not apple (or google or spotify)

 

don't pay google anything you can upload like 50k songs or some absurd thing for free. stream whenever you want. download to your phone and play in google music player. google will then take that data and advertise obscure artists to you so you spend more money on bandcamp (doubt)

 

there's lots of stuff that i listen to that isn't on any streaming service so creating your own (through google) is the best imo. main downfall is that the interface sucks and over the years the updated apps have come with more "search suggestions" and suggested playlist shit that's just adverts. so annoying that every time i search "dj" for like, dj rupture or something it, the first result is "dj khaled" who i've never intentionally listened to a song of in my life

 

fwp


plus i've always heard horror stories of people having their entire apple music databases erased because they did some stupid thing and all of the bs drm apple packs into itunes/apple music. seems lame

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buy stuff from bandcamp and upload it to google play music. give money to artists, not apple (or google or spotify)

 

don't pay google anything you can upload like 50k songs or some absurd thing for free. stream whenever you want. download to your phone and play in google music player. google will then take that data and advertise obscure artists to you so you spend more money on bandcamp (doubt)

 

there's lots of stuff that i listen to that isn't on any streaming service so creating your own (through google) is the best imo. main downfall is that the interface sucks and over the years the updated apps have come with more "search suggestions" and suggested playlist shit that's just adverts. so annoying that every time i search "dj" for like, dj rupture or something it, the first result is "dj khaled" who i've never intentionally listened to a song of in my life

 

fwp

plus i've always heard horror stories of people having their entire apple music databases erased because they did some stupid thing and all of the bs drm apple packs into itunes/apple music. seems lame

I tried Google Music (on iOS) and found it... lacking. Normally I like Google's UI and apps, but something about Google Music turned me off. Perhaps I need to try again.

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streaming music will never be my thing and i don't trust those services one bit

i put everything i steal or buy on a harddrive, i enjoy putting some time and effort in relistening the albums i got. gives me a snarejizz everytime when i refind some treasure i did'nt notice at first listens

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streaming music will never be my thing and i don't trust those services one bit

i put everything i steal or buy on a harddrive, i enjoy putting some time and effort in relistening the albums i got. gives me a snarejizz everytime when i refind some treasure i did'nt notice at first listens

 

this.

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Guest Ralph Nolte

I recently read a long thread over at Gearslutz about how Spotify / streaming is affecting musicians in mostly negative ways - and an argument made by one guy was that nobody is "forcing" artists to put their music on e.g. Spotify for basically free. It's just a business proposition: small artists can get "exposure" on the big streaming sites without actually earning anything now, but they might make some money eventually if they become "famous enough". Of course, for most that will never happen - but by the time individual musicians realize how hopeless the situation is and maybe give up their dreams, they've added yet more content to the huge mountain of music that's already available. The result is that increasingly abundant music just becomes an almost worthless commodity (in a business sense) as the price people are willing to pay for it keeps falling lower and lower...

 

However, if you're as big as e.g. Taylor Swift, you get to negotiate your own special deal re your latest album with Spotify et al. Business as usual (and no place for "morals" in any of this, unfortunately).

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buy stuff from bandcamp and upload it to google play music. give money to artists, not apple (or google or spotify)

 

don't pay google anything you can upload like 50k songs or some absurd thing for free. stream whenever you want. download to your phone and play in google music player. google will then take that data and advertise obscure artists to you so you spend more money on bandcamp (doubt)

 

there's lots of stuff that i listen to that isn't on any streaming service so creating your own (through google) is the best imo. main downfall is that the interface sucks and over the years the updated apps have come with more "search suggestions" and suggested playlist shit that's just adverts. so annoying that every time i search "dj" for like, dj rupture or something it, the first result is "dj khaled" who i've never intentionally listened to a song of in my life

Yup, this is how I roll too. Also I still buy vinyl & cassettes.
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I recently read a long thread over at Gearslutz about how Spotify / streaming is affecting musicians in mostly negative ways - and an argument made by one guy was that nobody is "forcing" artists to put their music on e.g. Spotify for basically free. It's just a business proposition: small artists can get "exposure" on the big streaming sites without actually earning anything now, but they might make some money eventually if they become "famous enough". Of course, for most that will never happen - but by the time individual musicians realize how hopeless the situation is and maybe give up their dreams, they've added yet more content to the huge mountain of music that's already available. The result is that increasingly abundant music just becomes an almost worthless commodity (in a business sense) as the price people are willing to pay for it keeps falling lower and lower...

 

However, if you're as big as e.g. Taylor Swift, you get to negotiate your own special deal re your latest album with Spotify et al. Business as usual (and no place for "morals" in any of this, unfortunately).

 

This is exactly why I call streaming "legit piracy", because a large portion of users who subscribe will not continue to purchase music on other formats, as they deem their subscription as 'doing their part'.

 

However in most cases the artists are reimbursed such a small pittance that it's actually worse than if the listener had pirated the music, since they're still actually paying for something and the subscription provider + larger artists are getting the majority of the revenue.

 

The exposure argument is a thorny one, as many creatives are exploited for providing creative work free of charge on the promise of exposure, and in most cases the person who benefits the most is whomever you're providing this free of charge art to.

 

If you stream, and that's the only way you 'buy' music, that's fine - just don't kid yourself that it's helping anyone but the biggest of artists and the subscription provider. The best way to support the artist is as it has always been - buy the physical media, buy the merch, go see them live (if possible, buy media + merch directly from the artists bandcamp or label)

 

I'm sure most people here already know this shit, but it's a conversation I find myself having quite often with people at work and stuff, and the amount of people that don't realise this is astonishing.

Edited by oscillik
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Guest Ralph Nolte

 

This is exactly why I call streaming "legit piracy", because a large portion of users who subscribe will not continue to purchase music on other formats, as they deem their subscription as 'doing their part'.

 

However in most cases the artists are reimbursed such a small pittance that it's actually worse than if the listener had pirated the music, since they're still actually paying for something and the subscription provider + larger artists are getting the majority of the revenue.

 

The exposure argument is a thorny one, as many creatives are exploited for providing creative work free of charge on the promise of exposure, and in most cases the person who benefits the most is whomever you're providing this free of charge art to.

 

If you stream, and that's the only way you 'buy' music, that's fine - just don't kid yourself that it's helping anyone but the biggest of artists and the subscription provider. The best way to support the artist is as it has always been - buy the physical media, buy the merch, go see them live (if possible, buy media + merch directly from the artists bandcamp or label)

 

 

The joke here is that Spotify isn't even making a profit at this stage, so paying musicians more than a few cents for 1000s of streams isn't an option, apparently... Most of Spotify's subscriber revenue is used to pay for the mega-million $ deals negotiated with the big labels to allow streaming of their coveted back-catalogue (and hardly any of that money is passed on to artists themselves).

 

I doubt that average streaming site users know (or care) how little income gets through to the people who actually create the music they listen to - and why should they feel guilty about this if they are not actively pirating? Also, why should they feel compelled to buy additional copies of their favourite music in outmoded media formats just to "sufficiently" support their artist of choice? A properly-functioning music marketplace should allow artists to be adequately reimbursed for what they create without having to rely on a lot of "extra effort" from a handful of hardcore fans.

 

Maybe the reality is that music in its own right (and despite all its artistic and other merits) just isn't a very marketable product any more, unless it's wrapped in a "celebrity brand" of some kind.

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The joke here is that Spotify isn't even making a profit at this stage, so paying musicians more than a few cents for 1000s of streams isn't an option, apparently... Most of Spotify's subscriber revenue is used to pay for the mega-million $ deals negotiated with the big labels to allow streaming of their coveted back-catalogue (and hardly any of that money is passed on to artists themselves).

 

I doubt that average streaming site users know (or care) how little income gets through to the people who actually create the music they listen to - and why should they feel guilty about this if they are not actively pirating? Also, why should they feel compelled to buy additional copies of their favourite music in outmoded media formats just to "sufficiently" support their artist of choice? A properly-functioning music marketplace should allow artists to be adequately reimbursed for what they create without having to rely on a lot of "extra effort" from a handful of hardcore fans.

 

Maybe the reality is that music in its own right (and despite all its artistic and other merits) just isn't a very marketable product any more, unless it's wrapped in a "celebrity brand" of some kind.

All truth.

 

What we need is a streaming service that doesn't have big labels and names. Basically, Bandcamp needs their own streaming service (unless everyone at the company is blind deaf and dumb, they're already working on this). You can already sort of treat Bandcamp like that, but it's not quite got the same 'feel' as Spotify, Google Play, Apple Music, etc., at least not yet. If they complete that transition and offer artists the choice to opt-in or not (or extend their 'amount of plays possible by each user' model to include streaming) then they'll really extend their reach. Kids these days (i.e., everyone under 30) listen to lots of 'underground' artists and the like, I'm sure that's a big part of Bandcamp's current success, and they could really expand on that.

 

There's definitely a move for some music being just a brand now, but that's not entirely new, it's just grown and changed and is definitely more often the case for 'big' artists and labels these days.

 

The exposure argument is a thorny one, as many creatives are exploited for providing creative work free of charge on the promise of exposure, and in most cases the person who benefits the most is whomever you're providing this free of charge art to.

 

If you stream, and that's the only way you 'buy' music, that's fine - just don't kid yourself that it's helping anyone but the biggest of artists and the subscription provider. The best way to support the artist is as it has always been - buy the physical media, buy the merch, go see them live (if possible, buy media + merch directly from the artists bandcamp or label)

Yep. Even looking into getting my tunes on streaming sites lately a lot of the distribution services offer 'exposure packages' that are supposed to guarantee plays and bullshit like that. Pay to play the game, it's always been that way.

 

streaming music will never be my thing and i don't trust those services one bit

i put everything i steal or buy on a harddrive, i enjoy putting some time and effort in relistening the albums i got. gives me a snarejizz everytime when i refind some treasure i did'nt notice at first listens

For archival purposes streaming is definitely not okay with me. Always a hard drive, or two.

 

 

 

buy stuff from bandcamp and upload it to google play music. give money to artists, not apple (or google or spotify)

 

don't pay google anything you can upload like 50k songs or some absurd thing for free. stream whenever you want. download to your phone and play in google music player. google will then take that data and advertise obscure artists to you so you spend more money on bandcamp (doubt)

 

there's lots of stuff that i listen to that isn't on any streaming service so creating your own (through google) is the best imo. main downfall is that the interface sucks and over the years the updated apps have come with more "search suggestions" and suggested playlist shit that's just adverts. so annoying that every time i search "dj" for like, dj rupture or something it, the first result is "dj khaled" who i've never intentionally listened to a song of in my life

 

fwp

plus i've always heard horror stories of people having their entire apple music databases erased because they did some stupid thing and all of the bs drm apple packs into itunes/apple music. seems lame

I tried Google Music (on iOS) and found it... lacking. Normally I like Google's UI and apps, but something about Google Music turned me off. Perhaps I need to try again.

It's okay. A touch better on mobile, but it's not flashy really. Integrates well on my Pixel 2 though, colors and art of music playing just defaults now and is always smooth and pretty. I need to upload more stuff to Google Play, but that streaming quality is always going to be a hindrance imo.

 

 

 

Have a streaming subscription has never stopped me buying music. Why should it stop you?

It hasn't stopped me from buying from indies or individuals on Bandcamp who haven't added their library to streaming services, in fact, It's actually made me spend more of my money on them. It's just the people who actually have made their libraries available for streaming that are making me ask questions. Sure I might still be buying little odds and ends from them that aren't available, but I can't justify spending my money on something that I can already get on Apple Music since I'm paying $10 a month.

As a consumer I'm right there with your feelings there. As an artist, it gives me pause. In my head though I know if I really like something, I'm still going to purchase it (CD or digital vinyls) to have and keep in high quality....but that's me. Most people, like you, aren't like me and that scares me because of the lack of revenue actually hitting artists hands as we all know is very poor from streaming services.

 

Definitely worth discussing here though.

 

Anyone else use Bandcamp to stream like sometimes do? They used to actually cache the music on my phone (Android) and so if I'm really listening to something a lot one week it's not actually 'streaming' anymore, just playing back through their app...other services may do this, but I noticed it with them, though I'm not sure it's still the same.

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I'd be prepared to kill the person who wanted to take away Spotify from me. Maybe that's a bit over-the-top.....definitely break their legs. For so many reasons that at a caffeine free 4.20am I'm not going to attempt to list. I've been on my own discovery of music ever since signing up.

 

I just love it, very much so. It's a wonder. I still play my Beast Amp/CD/Turntable at home because the sound from that thing is incredible but me and my iPhone and set of Shure earbuds I'm a happy man. 

 

I'd be prepared to pay double the £10 a month I pay for it without even thinking twice.

 

As for the ethics? I definitely need at least one cup of tea first : ) 

Edited by beerwolf
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Haven't jumped the ship on streaming services. Although, I did do Apple Music right when it just started. But left annoyed after a month. It screwed up my library. Still recovering from that, btw.

 

In short, in the process of synchronising with the apple servers things went wrong and there appeared lots of double entries in my library. So started to delete those. After a while doing so, I came to the conclusion that deleting the duplicates from my library simply took too much time, so i stopped apple music. But then the shit got bigger, because since then I'm suddenly missing loads of tracks from my original library. Perhaps that was some early issue, which has been resolved on apples end nowadays, but i really cant be bothered trying that again. Not a fan of streaming anyways. :/

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Renting music to people is ethically permissible, but I'm surprised it's popular.

I was gonna call it renting too. Like the days of physically renting movies, except it's a monthly membership. What's silly is, there is specific language in US copyright law outlawing the rental of vinyl records. I'm for owning and backing up my files as well, there is not always an internet connection available in 3rd world countries, people sometimes forget that.

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heres the big question for me: how the fuxk am i supposed to DJ without the actual files? am u going to load a stream into virtualDJ and mix that? change the speed? wtf? maybe that's the future and if so, just......fuck it

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dunno, streaming is pretty great for discovery innit..

 

I’m also on Apple Music, wasn’t sure during the first year or so, felt like there’s an over abundance of stuff and never enough time to actually enjoy music. But adapted to it, now I would never give it up. I’m listening to music a lot more than ever before and with pleasure, since it's just there all the time.

 

Ethical: no it isn’t, and I usually don’t buy releases. But I spend a lot of cash on live shows...

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