The biggest downside of streaming music: Idiots listening to your favourite albums

Streaming is here to stay. The coming week will probably be the third week in a row that Canadians will listen to over a billion streams. Meanwhile, CD sales continue to crater as more people get on board with the ability to access tens of millions of songs with a few pokes on their phones. Record labels love it, too, because they’re making the majority of their revenues from streaming. Remember when they predicted that they’d never make this kind of money from Spotify and all the others?

Bottom line is that we’re never going back to the old ways of consuming music. But outside of the issues involving artist payments–we’ll be debating that for a long time yet–there are some downsides to streaming, especially in the area of changing consumer behaviors.

Let’s see if you agree with this opinion presented in a Guardian story entitled “Streaming is easy but I don’t want idiots listening to my favourite albums.”

Things are different now. A few months ago, I discovered that one of the Wu had released a new album. Raekwon Da Chef, so called despite not even having a BTec in food technology, was one of the most exciting members of the Clan, once releasing an album so seminal that people forever referred to it as “the purple tape” and everyone knew what that meant, bar anyone who had bought it on CD or vinyl. I opened Spotify, listened to each track of the new album for about 30 seconds, and decided it was good not great, and have not listened to it since.

Whether this is good or bad is open to opinion. An argument in favour of streaming would be that, before digital, I forced myself to enjoy an album that was actually bad, but now I was able to listen to Raekwon’s new album and realise I wouldn’t like it before having to fork out money for it. But that’s not what life’s about. Consuming art should involve investment and risk.

I felt a sense of pride when I bought Snoop Dogg’s Tha Doggfather, and then was able to relay to my friends, family and people in the street that it was less enjoyable to listen to the album than it would be to watch your house burn down.

My problem is that we are all listening to music in a more disposable fashion. The concept of tracks or albums being “growers” is increasingly rare and this has an effect on the way music is being made. Tracks have to be catchy and immediate, which is arguably why we are hearing more reinterpretations of familiar tracks. Streaming could be responsible for that awful Play That Song track composed to the theme of Heart And Soul. If that isn’t a reason to shut down streaming, if not all recorded music, then I don’t know what is.

Read the whole thing. Give the thesis some thought.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.