Always listening to music for free hurts the musicians, producers, writers and others who are behind the songs, because they’re hardly being paid. You have a responsibility as a listener to support the artists you enjoy.
It’s easy to listen to music on Spotify, Soundcloud, Pandora, Youtube, or other websites. As long as you can connect to the internet, you get to listen to music for free. However, Spotify, for example, pays creators less than a tenth of a cent per play, and considering all the writers producers, singers, and more that need a cut of that money, it can boil down to, well, nothing.
Some artists like Taylor Swift and Jay-Z have made a fuss in the media because of the measly revenue they get from free streaming sites. Swift started (and won) a feud with Apple Music when she posted a letter on her Tumblr addressing the fact that Apple was not going to pay artists during their first three months.
This makes enough sense. People must be paid for their work. But it’s not realistic to expect everyone who wants to listen to music to pay for every song when there are so many free platforms.
Artists post to streaming sites knowing they will not be paid much. Kweku Collins, a young musician, explained that earnings from plays is no more than a little money here and there. To musicians like Collins, spreading their music and their message is more important than the paycheck. But everyone’s gotta eat. The only way the system of creators and listeners will work is if you support artists financially.
After all, music is a unique thing. I mean, if you hire a plumber, he fixes your pipes, you pay him for his work, he leaves. Transaction over. But you listen to music out of want, not need. You develop attachments to songs or the people who make them.
You’re not going to have a special bond with every artist, and that’s okay. Listen to that one song by them that you like for free, and don’t feel guilty about it. Think of it as a free sample at a grocery store, enticing and enjoyable, yet maybe not good enough to buy the whole bag of chips.
But when you find those artists you love, that you follow and listen to consistently, you have to help them. Help them keep doing what they love–and in a way help yourself–because without your support they cannot keep making music.
You could buy songs from them, but maybe that’s not even an option. There are other ways. Collins pointed out that artists will sell merchandise and tickets to live shows and expect these sales to fund them rather than relying on royalties from plays or purchases on their songs.
Free streaming should not be a problem. It should be a wonderful opportunity to sample as you go and enjoy music by many artists, but we need to take initiative and support our favorites or there won’t be much to listen to.