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Spotify Killed the Video Star

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In a digital age that not even The Bugles could’ve predicted, music streaming services are arguably rendering music videos irrelevant.

image credit: Flikr

Image credit: downloadsource.fr via Flikr

Spotify seems to be an essential accompaniment to student life – a facilitator for pre-drinks playlists and a one-stop shop for accessing and downloading a seemingly never-ending plethora of songs and user-tailored playlists. With the added incentive of the 50% student discount, the company’s premium service with no advert interruptions and the all-important offline feature, is very tempting. Inclusive of all its students, Spotify amasses over 40 million users a month, with over 10 million of those paying for premium.

It is economically viable, especially for students, to have downloadable access to thousands of albums at the touch of a finger, paying a quarter of what you’d pay for each individual one. However, this does not exempt the streaming service of the ethical criticism it has received; Taylor Swift famously removed her music from Spotify as a form of protest for undervaluing the ‘art’ of music.

Streaming services pay artists royalties for the number of streams that they amass, and, whilst artists like Taylor Swift and Ed Sheeran likely do well out of this, there is a growing fear surrounding whether smaller artists will be financially supported through the platform. Artist’s royalties are calculated in terms of Spotify’s monthly revenue - the artists’ streams over the total number of streams on Spotify, and the cut that record labels and publishers take which can be up to 70% in some cases. Whilst Spotify’s CEO claims that they have re-invested 2 billion dollars back into some of the industry’s labels and publishers, he admitted that smaller artists will find it harder to earn large royalties through the site: "500 thousand listens on Spotify would pay out between three and four thousand dollars".

Image courtesy of Flickr

Image credit: Eva Rinaldi via Flikr

Subsequently, having all this music contained in our playlists and libraries on one app (whether it be Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, Soundcloud or any other streaming platform) has not only led to the decline in the popularity of buying albums, but an evident decline in the popularity of watching music videos on YouTube. Many streaming sites, including Spotify, even alert us when a recommended artist has released a new album and takes you straight to the page.

Unless a music video becomes a specific song’s defining feature, like Psy’s ‘Gangnam Style’, people are generally less likely to go to YouTube to listen to a song. There is the inconvenience of advertisements, and not being able to listen offline, instantly replay or loop the song, use other applications simultaneously or lock your phone. Whilst YouTube remains extremely prevalent in today’s society, with the rise of YouTubers, the number of views on an artist’s music video are paling in comparison to their number of Spotify streams.

Furthering this, YouTube has recently released YouTube Premium (including YouTube Music Premium), which is sought to become Google’s main music streaming competitor against the likes of Spotify and Apple Music. Amongst other features, it promises ad-free, background and downloadable, offline listening for 10 dollars a month.

It can be inferred, then, that YouTube is releasing this new streaming service as a way of re-asserting its relevance, and keeping up with its competition. Music streaming is unavoidably popular and seems to be dictating how we view, listen to and discover our music. However, it is unlikely that YouTube’s music streaming will be able to compete with Spotify’s well-established popularity, especially among students.

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