Why everyone loses when it comes to music exclusives
The changing landscape of the music industry has in recent years seen the rise of streaming services. The idea is that music listeners pay a monthly fee to listen to all the music they want. However, in the music business, someone’s always playing corporate games. There is competition between the streaming services for subscribers. In order to make their service more attractive than the competition, streaming services like Apple Music, and Tidal are offering music exclusives.
Music exclusives are deals that artists sign with streaming companies where they make their music available only on that single platform. In exchange the artists get lump sum payments and marketing for their music. This means that you cannot listen to new music from your favorite artist, unless you subscribe to the streaming service with the exclusive deal.
For a music listener who is willing to pay for one streaming service, it feels unfair to be obligated to buy a subscription to a whole other service just to listen to a single exclusive album. That’s like having to buy a phone subscription from a whole other provider just to be able to call one number! Listeners who don’t want to miss out on any new music from their favorite artists are forced to subscribe to multiple streaming services, all of which provide the exact same content for the most part, with the exception of the exclusives.
Faced with the decision to either buy multiple subscriptions or get their music from torrent sites, many people opt for the later. Fans feel cheated when they are unable to listen to albums whose release they have long anticipated, so they resort to piracy. This is ironic because the streaming services were created to combat piracy in the first place.
The budding careers of indie artists are often seriously hurt by music exclusives. The start of a career is the best time for an artist to reach out and win as many fans as possible through their music. If an emerging artist signs a music exclusive deal with one streaming service, their audience will be limited to the pool of subscribers on that one platform, and this can reduce their chance of making it big.
Another problem for indie artists and listeners, is that these exclusive deals are usually between already popular artists and the streaming services, which are promoted heavily. This could be seen as a huge negative for indie artists as it reduces their chance to get their music heard.
But there are other options to find new indie artists, for instance group listening apps, where you can share other people’s musical taste, such as our own Listen Together, which is a great way to discover amazing new music. The app makes it a lot easier to share and find new indie artist with friends and music lovers, without being told what to listen to!
While music exclusives may have short term incentives for artists and streaming services, many experts believe that this practice will ruin the music business in the long run.
Disgruntled fans will keep turning to piracy sites, and soon, everyone will start wondering why they should even pay for a subscription in the first place. Artistes are losing out on a lot of revenue, fans are starting to resent their favorite artistes, and the evidence shows that streaming services will also start losing soon. With music exclusives, nobody really wins.
This guest piece was written by Joseph Mills of music service FindWhatYouLike
Photograph by meineresterampe