Streaming Music – What’s Gone Wrong? (Commentary)

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Streaming Music

I will lay my cards on the poker table of commentary – I love music streaming services.  Living in a small house in a small town, I don’t have the space to store physical music on vinyl or CD.  I like the fact I can listen on my phone or iPod or iPad or tablet.  I find it great to relax and have my choice of albums from artists I adore.

Call me lazy, but I never liked having to put records back in sleeves or arrange my CDs on wall shelves.  I love the fact that I don’t need to buy records I found weren’t to my taste.  I love being able to access music at any time of day or night.

What’s Wrong With It?

However, I also think that streaming services such as Amazon, Spotify or Apple have lost the plot.  They could do so much more to improve the way in which they do business and it frustrates me greatly that they don’t seem to be listening to the consumers’ comments.

The Business Model for Streaming

The business has boomed for big record labels.  Their profits continue from the agreements they made with the streaming services.  For the pop artists with savvy managers and lawyers, the good times have continued.  For those smaller artists, revenue streams(sic) have dried up.  Streaming simply doesn’t pay for our favorite artists.

Why does it always come down to money?  Why can’t record labels pay appropriately for streaming?   Spotify et al need to pay their fair share to artists, not just to Taylor Swift or Garth Brooks.

Lyrics & Liner Notes?

Remember the gatefold sleeves and lyric sheets we got with vinyl records?  Mind-blowing epic illustrations such as those for glorious albums by Yes, Deep Purple or Meat Loaf?  Who pored over the lyrics to Master Of Puppets or checked liner notes on Iron Maiden records?  Now we’re lucky if they re-produce any part of the product but the front cover.

Here’s an idea; add a pdf to the Spotify platform of the lyrics and artwork.  Give each record the love it deserves by adding liner notes, credits and related facts.  Expand the Amazon/iTunes service of lyrics being synched to all platforms.  This music is art and should be treated as such.  It is shoddy work to give music such little regard.  This is akin to when CDs were not digitally tracked and all your CD player would say is “Track 1” rather than give the name of the track.  This is a consumer experience – make it better.

Get Your Streaming Data Right

The ability of streaming services to actually categorise their data is in question.  When you search for Anthrax on Amazon Music, you will get all music from any artist called Anthrax rather than splitting them out into the definitive band and some random European rap artists.  It is embarrassing that their sophisticated platform does not better manage their data.

Likewise, is there ANY chance that they could order albums by date of release?  This situation is simply amateur hour and does not give confidence that platform providers are interested in the music service they are providing.

Furthermore, make the versions on different platforms (Android or Apple) the same for functionality.  Amazon Music does not include a New Releases search by genre on Android, but this function is  on their iPod version.

This is all incredibly frustrating, but does make it a fantastic opportunity for an industry disruptor to come in and produce a platform that pays its artists fairly and provides a service that is quality – I would gladly pay more for such a subscription and cancel all of my others.

Long live music!


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