An independent musician explains his decision to pull his music from streaming services despite industry trends
The conventional wisdom among music technology theorists is that the traditional model of listening to music has changed, that music fans listen to streaming services like Spotify instead of buying music. I haven’t seen data or research to support that argument yet, only industry buzz, but I imagine it’s true for a strong minority of music fans.
And industry data may support the trend as well; however my own, admittedly anecdotal, experience doesn’t.
Now I’m not opposed to music streaming services, and I understand why listeners like them. But those services don’t pay musicians. And when my overall sales dropped after I made music available in Spotify, I made the decision to pull my songs. Almost immediately my sales returned to pre-streaming levels.
This makes sense: if a product is available for free, consumers will take advantage, as they should. But if a product has value to consumers, and that product isn’t free, but priced according to its value (the price consumers are willing to pay), then that product will sell at that price. So a basic rule of business is to price your product at the highest number consumers are willing to pay. If the product isn’t selling then either the price is too high or the value of the product is too low.
Thankfully some people like my music and are willing to buy it, and I’m extremely grateful for those fans.
So if people are willing to buy my music, why would I give it away for free in Spotify? To be part of the newest music technology trend? If the current trend is giving away products for free, why would I want to participate in that trend?
Musicians: if your songs are good, someone could make money from them. But if you’re streaming your music in Spotify, then you’re just transferring that profit to another party. My question to you: if someone is going to make money off of your music, shouldn’t it be you?
Author: Zane Tate makes and writes about music. His most recent single, called “El Tiempo Es Circular,” features vocals by Latin Jazz singer Aline Esquivel, and bass by Fusion and Jazz bassist Alex Bershadsky. More info at zanetate.com