Music

Prince’s music on Spotify makes us wonder about the resistance against streaming services

After Prince — rest in peace — spent his entire career battling the internet and the music industry, the corporation representing him finally released his music onto streaming services on Sunday, brightening our lives this winter.

This brings about the ongoing debate regarding the pros and cons of streaming services in general.

There are many benefits for consumers, at only $9.99 a month they can get unlimited, ad-free access to Spotify’s music library of over 20 million songs, enough music to last you a lifetime and beyond. Some important exceptions this this vast collection are Taylor Swift, Thom Yorke and, of course, up until this week, Prince. This is where the artist’s point of view comes in.

While Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke has limited his argument to calling Spotify “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse,” there are legitimate concerns that can be expected from artists. Artists only make a fraction of a cent every time a song of theirs is streamed, so it takes millions of streams for them to make anything substantial. Artists are also faced with the issue of CD and LP sales, which will inevitably decline if their music is available for free.

On the other hand, if their music is more accessible to listeners, they have the opportunity to expand their fan base and increase concert ticket and merchandise sales. Dedicated enough fans will still buy CDs and LPs, too.

When The Beatles put their music on Spotify in 2015, I definitely took advantage, but that didn’t decrease my frequent record shopping and ever-growing band tee collection. If anything, easier access to the music I love means I hear it more often, and am reminded of my love for it that much more frequently, making me more viable to go out and buy records and merch.

Spotify compensates, too, providing users with a weekly playlist catered to their taste with songs and artists the user has never heard before. Monday is the best day of the week for me solely because of this playlist. For every artist you search, there is an extensive list of related artists you can look through and listen to.

In every “related artists” list I have looked through, there have been at least one or two artists I have never encountered. I cannot count the amount of bands I have discovered through Spotify, or the amount of bands I became a fan of because I heard them mentioned in passing and could immediately search for and listen to them.

In the case of Prince, I think it’s important that younger generations who use services like Spotify have easy access to the music of the past. It’s incredible how many talented artists have recorded their music to share with the world, and now so much of it is available on one single platform for a small price.

People can listen to Prince, The Beatles, Nirvana and popular artists from every era with a few taps of the finger. As a result, these acts’ popularity and legacy will never die, and they can continue to inspire artists of the future, and thus the cycle continues.

How many popular artists of our future will have gotten their inspiration from stumbling upon Prince on their Spotify profiles? It’s worth thinking about.

Jenny Bourque is a freshman English and textual studies major. Her column appears weekly in Pulp. You can email her at jabourqu@syr.edu.

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