Most experts and average consumers will still pull the illegal downloading card, and place the majority of the blame for low music sales on that. But, I feel like streaming services, especially Spotify, should be examined closer. Not only that, but I feel that they’re in a unique position to help fix the problem.
Here’s my plan:
Free Spotify could be used to help promote and sell albums. Users of the free version could be able to stream an album one time. Afterwards, not only their account, but their I.P. address, will no longer be able to stream any material from that album.
Instead, when the user tries to stream the material again, a message appears, with links to buy the album from the artist’s website, or from popular retailers. If the user liked the album, they might buy it.
If they didn’t like the album, they won’t buy it. Also, if they didn’t like it, there shouldn’t be any worry about the album being downloaded illegally by that user. Think about it: Why would you download an album that you didn’t even like? For spite? Ehh…maybe.
So, if the user either doesn’t like the album, and chooses not to buy it, or they decide to illegally download it, Spotify can provide a little financial relief, in place of the lost sale. How do they do this?
Well, of course, they pay royalties, though their payments are ridiculously small (between $0.006 and $0.0084 per stream to be specific). So, this is where Spotify has to step-up and pay standard radio airplay royalties.
I’m no expert, but if I were a betting man, I would say that Spotify is making more money than your local radio station. So, they could afford to pay the standard fee.
The service they provide allows users to create playlists, jump to other artists and albums, and if you’re a premium user, you can pick and choose individual songs to play at any given time. This provides a more appealing experience to the average modern music fan than traditional radio does.
I’m not one of those anti-business guys that thinks big companies like Spotify should be “punished,” because they’re successful. I just think everyone should be paying the standard royalty fees. They make their money from premium plans and advertising.
Now, I’m not trying to tell Spotify how to run their business, and I don’t think anyone should be forced to go against their visions. I feel like this could be a win-win for both Spotify, or streaming services in general, and the music industry.
Spotify could possibly see an increase in premium users, since their premium service is reasonably affordable, and the songwriters, artists, record labels, etc. wouldn’t be losing so much money from free streaming services. After implementing these changes, if more people have access to the album than the number of people who bought it, then I believe it’s safe to say that we still have to figure out how to shut down the illegal downloading sites.