Most products cyberspace cannot replicate such as a coffee maker or a designer T-shirt, but the internet has managed to transform some products that were once tangible and repackaged them into what are now intangible services. The industries suffering the most financially from this transformation are within the entertainment sectors, namely the music industry in particular, however for the consumer this change has been recognised as a positive step forward rather than from a musicians point view a step back. Spotify is one online business at the centre of this debate whereby the company has helped consumers reduce the cost of listening to their favourite band or musician, but musicians say this intangibility comes at the expense of their talent.
Right now common opinion amongst musicians is that instead of Spotify’s original advertised purpose, which was to go up against pirate sites where members share music for free, it actually hasn’t much at all differentiated itself from the pirated music’s immoral online entities. Spotify’s original business idea was to act as a defense against piracy with an above the board service and because of its legitimacy financial transactions for music would be safe rather than the alternative of having to send money to a pirate site with no guarantees if your investment went wrong. The problem for musicians is that the hoards have flocked to this site from other sites where musicians receive better royalty payments.
The financial safety element to Sportify’s service still stands strong in its idea, but the protection against piracy seems navigable to many musicians because of the fact the royalties are so low. Due to this many musicians see little difference between Spotify and the sites offering pirate software. Nonetheless it isn’t all doom and gloom because it is exposure and the attraction for consumers that would probably otherwise use a pirate site is the fact they can make secure payments to a registered business. Musicians need exposure, so here is a way to give them just that.
The argument then takes a turn in the wind. The business’s model targets many users who would otherwise use pirate sites, so to do this the price had to be right. This low cost system means now because of Spotify there are more people actively buying music whereas they would usually be downloading it for free or for lesser payments at a torrent site, so musicians are getting royalties they would otherwise have never seen.
This point of debate still has its cracks because there were already many honest music buyers before the launch of Spotify. These honest buyers have seen the value of streaming cheaper music than other options such as Apple’s online music store, which pays considerably higher royalties, and now many of these buyers have switched to using Spotify further affecting royalties paid to musicians. For the consumer the site is a dream come true and for the music researcher there is now a place to get everything in one place at the least expense to their production research.
Consumers are obviously happy with the fact that now there is a cheap streaming service that is available from anywhere. The service is cost effective at the right price. The musicians see it as a way for another company to make a profit out of creating a virtual service and using their music as their selling point, none of created by the site itself. The pros and the cons seem to be heavily weighted with consumers benefiting and musicians feeling they are being hard done by.
Author: Jenny Beswick writes for DV247, Pro Audio specialists and suppliers of Fender products.
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