The Future Of Music Income Is Not Downloads… Or Streams

I hate downloading music.  It’s a burden.  It takes up space on my (already overcapacity) iPhone and laptop.

Before Spotify, it took me hours to go through albums, playlists and songs to choose the ones I wanted to include on my 16GB iPhone for my various tours.  On a whim, when I wanted to listen to an album that I owned, but hadn’t chosen it for the “iphone playlist,” I was shit out of luck.  Oh my iPOD?  Yeah, I lost it.  Twice.  Please don’t make me carry multiple devices.  I’m not good at that.

Enter Spotify.

I haven’t downloaded a single song since I signed up for Spotify Premium.

Don’t tell me I’m hurting the music industry.  I AM PART OF THE MUSIC INDUSTRY.

I am a musician.  I’ve toured the country many many times and have released multiple albums.  I’ve sold thousands of CDs and downloads.  I’ve made a full-time living as a musician for over 5 years (even before I got paid to write or act or do anything other than music).

As a fan, I love Spotify.  Virtually all the music ever released at my fingertips.  I’m salivating just writing that.

As a musician, sure, I’d love for people to download my music or buy a CD at the show because I get that money up front.

Well 45 days later if it’s iTunes.  Close enough.

But Spotify has leveled the playing field a bit.  The albums that suck will die fast (even if they have millions in marketing behind them) and the albums that are brilliant, will last forever (and continue to earn revenue).

Spotify gives musicians a financial incentive to create great music.

Remember in the pre-Napster, pre-iTunes era when labels shat out 10 song CDs with 1 or 2 good songs and 8 filler songs for… wait for it… $18.99?  Labels had no incentive to encourage their artists to create great albums.  Just one great hit to package into something that could not be broken.  Now?  Labels (and musicians) have a FINANCIAL incentive to create lasting music.

We all have our favorite albums that we’ve played a hundred times on our own.  And we all have the albums we bought, listened to only once and they remain at the bottom of our play count iTunes ranking.

Wouldn’t it be great if the albums that you’ve played a hundred times actually got those artists paid?  Every time you listened?

I illustrated how streaming will be more profitable than sales very soon, but similarly as to how musicians never relied solely on album sales (especially those signed to labels), musicians cannot rely solely on streaming revenue – even when it becomes super profitable and 50 million people are signed up to Spotify (and other streaming services).  Because it will.

Downloading music will not exist in 10 years.

It will all be streaming.  But we’re not quite there now.  Now we’re in a purgatory where no one knows what to do.  The fans want to support their favorite indie artists the best they can.  Hell, artists don’t even know the best way for their fans to support them.  Uh, come to our show.  Oh you live in Australia?  Uh buy our CD.  Oh, you don’t have a disc drive in your new Mac Book Pro and it’s going to cost us HOW MUCH to ship?  I guess download our album from BandCamp.  You don’t use BandCamp? Ok I guess get it from iTunes, even though we only get 61% of that sale.  Fuck it.  Here’s a PayPal Donate button.  Thanks!

Physical merchandise is the way of the future (and the past).

Moving to such a digital, phone absorbed world, we humans still crave tactile objects.

Even Spotify gets it.  They now allow artists (at any level) to offer physical merchandise on their Spotify profiles (via Topspin).

I’m releasing Vinyl with my new release (out March 29th!! – yes it deserves two exclamation points).  I’ve spent the past two and a half years on this baby.  And proud of it.  I’m going to offer pre-orders beginning March 1st.  I predict many people will order the Vinyl.  Many more people than actually own record players.  Why?  The same reason I stocked up on vinyl records long before I had a turntable; they’re fun to hold and display!  A TRUE sense of ownership – none of this digital bullcrap.

When on tour, the majority of your income will come from merch sales.

How best to sell the merch at your show is another topic.

When a fan asks how best to support you, be ready to sell them a T-shirt, vinyl record, CD, thong, coffee mug, trucker hat, hoodie, whatever.  Invest in physical merch!  It’s the way of the future.

51 Responses

  1. Erik P

    People always laugh at me when I say physical is the future, not digital. Streaming & downloads will not go away, but true fans want something tangible & special.

    • FarePlay

      Erik, I agree. It isn’t an either or world. Digital downloads and streaming are only part of the sales chain; particularly for those over forty, like myself. For me owning the physical product of artists who really matter me to me is the way I’ve always gone and the way I’ll always go.

      Now that I’ve chosen to not subsidize Amazon, it has become more difficult and more expensive, but if I don’t support the things that matter to me, they will disappear.

    • GGG

      This is kind of both to you, Erik, and Ari. I think it’s a mix. I agree 100% that true fans want something tangible, whether it’s a physical CD or vinyl or a tshirt or poster or some other merch. But I also think you’re casting a too broad net over “true fans.”

      I go to a ton of shows. I collect posters so I buy those a lot but sometimes the band doesn’t have them or they are just ugly/boring. So there are plenty of bands I thoroughly enjoy that the only thing I own from them is a digital file flying floating around my computer. Same with other people who just don’t buy stuff for whatever reason. So I think discounting digital, when essentially every aspect of life is moving to streaming/cloud/etc in some way or another, is a little strange.

      • FarePlay

        GGG, for me, I really think it has as much to do with my relationship with music, which was incredibly different than it has been for people who weren’t collecting in the 60s and 70s. This isn’t a judgement call in any way and honestly I get your passion for music; you would have loved what was going on back then.

        So I bring that forward into today, fighting for the few opportunities to keep the spark alive. I get the disconnect kids have with music today. Digital interaction just doesn’t cut it for me, the entire way young people interface, not with just music, but everything. These are very isolating times and where there was once a sense of community, there’s not much now.

        It doesn’t matter to me what others think, I’m just trying to keep what’s left of the magic alive. I found a new record store, the guy loves music and his collection is meticulous. I bought Dave Mason’s Alone Together, the tri-fold with the marbleized disc, recently. It was mint. It put a smile on my face. I can remember going into a record store in NYC near Carnegie Hall and buying it when it came out in 1970.

        Listen to Mad Ruth and The Babe by Danny O’keefe or Coney Island by Van Morrison sometime. Enjoy the journey. Fill it with things that mean something to you.

        • GGG

          Well, I agree and disagree. For one, I don’t think that relationship is gone, or will go away, it may just be harder to see because people consume so much. Music is one of the most powerful things in the world, and I think people connect to it as much as ever, just in different ways. Now, I will say, I agree with you that the average younger person probably doesn’t cherish the average song they consume as much as you did/do, simply based on the fact your generation had to sit by the radio or save up your money to hear it. There was a sacrifice of sorts. I experienced that a little bit being born in the 80s, but everyone born after like 1995ish doesn’t really know that world.

          I also think music communities are stronger than ever, they are just spread out. I come across bands all the time who have 200K-1M+ Facebook fans and I’ve never heard their name once. Usually they are in the Warped Tour scene, or EDM artists, or metal, etc; scenes that I just don’t really keep up on. To me that’s great. For how homogenized Top 40 radio oddly still is, the internet has allowed niche genres/scenes to flourish as best they can.

          Keeping with the disconnect idea, I think its a mix between the culture and the music, something vinyl can’t necessarily fix. Modern music started out as single driven, quickly moved into albums, and in the Top 40 realm at least, it’s back to singles. So not only do you have a culture that devours music, you have a bunch of “artists” singing empty dance songs written by the same few people. How are you supposed to connect to that? It’s why everyone cares more about the celebrity than the music. And it’s similar on the indie side of things. I’ll spare everyone my semi-music snob rant about my generation’s average levels of musicianship, but I see year after year after year most of the bands that get hyped up disappear within 18 months because they can’t follow up that one or two tracks, or sometimes whole great album. There’s so many acts with no real depth who blow their load and have nothing else. So the problem is finding the artists with depth, of which there are plenty, just buried in the see of mediocrity.

          But look, for as much as we disagree on the business side of things, I think your thoughts in that post are 100% reasonable.

  2. Debaum & Vega

    The future will need to be an all in one system to allow all reading format, from streaming & download but able to play Cds and Blu-Ray Cds, a turntable integrated for the meloman, have a big memory capacity to create your very own bank of music in Lossless “Flac” also will need a touch screen connected to the net for the interaction directly with the artists and Record Labels, some great speakers within that system to extract the best sound quality… And other functions but can’t tell you more at this stage cause we are still under development

    • visitor

      I love how Ari has thrown an entire generation under the buss with his crystal ball predictions of the death of copyright. I’d love to know who’s paying Ari to write these posts from the silicon valley lobbyists playbook circa 1999.

      Telling musicians their “future” is merch is a complete admission that the internet has completely destroyed, devalued and dis-empowered musicians ability to earn a sustainable living.

      Also, living off of performances and merch takes us back to the 90s… the 1890’s… some future.

      • Christian Block

        They had merch in the 1890s? Sweet I’m gonna hop in my delorian and get me a Mozart tour jacket

  3. brucewarila

    I am not ready to say that downloading is going to be dead in ten years. Revolutions in inexpensive storage will enable fans to store 100,000 songs in a toothpick, and updating could happen via some crazy RF mechanism that we haven’t even heard of. You never know.

    • Paul Resnikoff

      The future always has a way of totally and completely surprising us. I could have never predicted a multi-billion dollar ringtone boom, nor could I have predicted the resurgence of vinyl. And I don’t remember anyone telling me to watch out for these things. Nor Snapchat, nor Twitter, nor airbnb… the list goes on, and on, and on, and it’s part of what makes this space so incredible.

      Come to think of it, had you described the web to an intelligence person living in the 80s, or even 90s, you’d probably get some blank stares or worse, looks or pity for a crazy man.

      Please comment more, Bruce!

      • Sean Beavan

        Great reply Paul.
        What will always happen is that someone will figure out how to make money off of the new thing. It would suck if the one commodity that musicians have, music (everybody loves music it drives traffic and ad revs to websites everywhere) continues to lose market value for the creators because they don’t stand up and demand rights. Copyright was hard won by creators fighting for their rights. We should not let that go. Boycott the things you think are unfair, demand fair pay for your work (sometimes you will lose the gig) make the deals that you can and if you decide to sell yourself short stop bitching about it. If all of us music creators got together and said whoa, we might get a place at the table.

      • hippydog

        Huge ‘Ditto’ on that!

        Technology may be somewhat predictable, but what becomes popular is not..
        IE: VHS VS Beta, 8-track VS cassette, blueray VS HD DVD, minidisk VS CDR, etc etc

        I consider STREAMING just another “format”, and thru past experience I would never make a “prediction” that it is 100% the FUTURE..

  4. Morgan

    So, if I understand the article correctly, streaming services’ primary uses will be for portability and music discovery – we will be buying physical copies of the albums we love anyway? Seems like we’re paying double – one fee to the streaming services for discovery and portability and another fee for the physical, higher fidelity product to play in our homes.

  5. rikki

    as a DJ i still like the psychical cd to play at gigs……..i could still use vinyl. but lots of small restaurants refuse to allow vinyl dj’s here in NYC because they take up too much room, lose a few tables and that’s 6-8-10 meals that could be served….

    So that is the main reason i dont pay for some mp3 version of your music unless i am desperate for it. If you want me to pay 99 cents or $1.49 per song i want the wav file…..not some 9% 128 K mp3 excuse…..

  6. David

    The common argument that streaming will replace purchasing seems to assume that accessing data from a distantly-located central store is somehow inherently more efficient than each user having their own local store. This isn’t obviously true. The cost of local storage has to be set against the cost of distant access. Both these costs have fallen dramatically, and will presumably continue to fall. At a rough estimate, a Spotify-size music catalog (about 20 million tracks, of about 5MB each) requires about 100 Terabytes of storage. It is already possible for anyone to buy compact devices with over 1TB capacity for a modest price. I predict that within a few years it will be possible to produce a ‘universal music box’, containing all the world’s recorded music, well-organised and annotated, for a few hundred dollars, including a suitable payment to rights-holders. ($100 per box is probably more than they would get per year per user from Spotify.) New recordings could be downloaded and added to the collection for a small monthly fee. The ‘box’ would of course need effective DRM.

    I don’t know whether a ‘music box’ like this would be more convenient or cheaper than using a streaming service. At a rough guess, it costs about as much to stream a track as to store it locally, so for anything you are likely to access more than once, local storage would probably be more efficient.

    Of course, all physical devices eventually break down, but if the ‘box’ lasts on average five years before needing a replacement, it could still be cheaper than streaming.

    • Anonymous

      You are making a lot of strange assumptions on how streaming (and really, how most of the Internet) actually works. “Streaming” is not a physical architecture. The endpoint you are streaming from is transient, and there are multiple levels of caches in between you and Spotify’s actual systems. Often this can even your own local computer! Or a cache in your ISP, shared by many a few nearby neighborhoods. Or a local data center. Or a regional data center. This is how the web works as well. You are in fact, probably getting most of this website’s data locally, because your web browser caches most content on your first visit to any website. Also, ISPs often do this at another layer.

  7. cbyrd

    Thank you for making the point about 90’s albums. It really did become a decade of filler. First we were promised cheaper albums with the CD. But that didn’t happen. The price was higher than we were told. Then as their popularity grew, they were just a single with songs that wouldn’t even make good b-sides. People wanted the singles without the filler and file sharing gave them that opportunity. I firmly believe that albums of filler and inflated album pricing drove a lot of people to file sharing that wouldn’t normally have cared for it.

  8. David

    Albums have always had filler. Beatles albums had filler. Bob Dylan had filler. The Rolling Stones had filler. Prince had filler. There may have been a higher proportion of filler in the 90s, but if so that is partly because the CD format permitted, and almost required, more tracks than a single vinyl album.

    But was it ever true that people had to buy an album consisting mainly of filler just to get one or two good songs? It’s a familiar claim (Tim Westergren of Pandora made it recently) but no-one ever seems to give examples. Can you? To meet the test the example has to be an album where:

    a) most of the tracks are filler (i.e. songs you wouldn’t want to buy separately, even at the price of an album track);

    b) there are just one or two really good tracks;

    c) the good tracks are not available elsewhere (e.g. as singles, EPs, or tracks on a compilation).

    I’m struggling to think of a convincing example. It’s easy to think of albums with just one or two really good tracks, but these were usually released as singles. That’s what singles were for.

    • musicmerc


      Thank you for bringing up that very point: filler. Who are these people talking about? Toad the Wet Sprocket? Live? (BTW, what follows is pretty much a rant so I won’t be offended if you pass over this comment to read something else.)

      There seems to have been a concerted effort on the part of the labels to kill vinyl in the 90s – its appeal, its usefulness, its chic – by regimenting 70-80 minutes of music per release. Hip-hop made better use of the extra space by incorporating “skits” or other non-musical bits. Rock and pop bands, uh, just spammed us with weaker cuts. Maybe the labels thought we were getting more bang for our buck? Or maybe it was an act of murder?

      The filler renaissance might not have impacted the independent labels (I can’t think of any Merge or Matador albums clogged with filler) but for the majors, it was a catastrophic misstep. To my mind there are fewer “classic” or canonical albums from the 90s (some R.E.M., Nirvana and Radiohead come to mind) than the prior decade, when an album of 8 or 10 songs was still the norm. And I blame the filler for this.

      Economics didn’t stop me from bargain shopping or buying used music in the 90s. In fact, the pricing of CDs in the 90s meant nothing to me. (Perhaps because I was just coming of age? Perhaps had I grown up in the 70s the inflationary costs would have been an issue). But I would balk at 15-track CDs if 11 of those said songs were average. (This does bring up the question of one’s attention span. Why is a 70-80 minute CD should be more difficult to listen to than two 40-minute albums played back to back? It’s only an issue when the bloated single album is complete pablum.)

      Here’s a question: think of a double album you love and adore. Find a “single” album of equal track or time length. Now … which is the better, more consistent album? I’ll wager a Japanese pressing of Desire that you’ll side with the double album.

      I always felt that rather than filling discs with subpar songs, the labels could have offered consumers more for the sticker price: more cd-rom material, merch or concert ticket discounts, personalized messages/videos/tracks, etc. Hell, a tacky badge even! But no, they went the filler route, watered down music for a generation and (for a spell) killed vinyl.

      Just some thoughts.

  9. hippydog

    maybe I’m just an old fogey 🙂
    but streaming just doesnt do it for me.. (I would rather listen to the radio, or listen to the music I already own)
    If streaming had better curation maybe it would help. And if more people I knew used it (neither spotify nor pandora is available in Canada, and the ones we do have, no one I know is on it).. Also I dont like the fact that there are times and places I can’t access it..

    its weird, but I sometimes prefer the simple ‘ownership’ of it, I can go on vacation (where i might not have net access) and KNOW I can still listen to my music.. Maybe thats just habit? cause I know I have tons of music that I havent listened to in YEARS, but I would never get rid of it.. (maybe thats the pack rat in me)

  10. Jughead

    The next generation won’t care about a physical or downloaded copy, and it won’t be a part of their nostalgia or culture. I agree with Ari, but only to a point—there no predicting what technology will bring in 10 years. You not only need foresight to say downloads will be nonexistent in 10 years, you need magical powers.

    M$ Word destroyed the typewriter business, too. Ari is just saying adapt or die. Good advice.

  11. Minneapolis Musician

    Streaming *is* radio, just with a different underlying transport mechanism.

    And most certainly, wireless internet will be available absolutely everywhere in the years ahead. Certainly it will be available everywhere that radio is available today…and no doubt more.

    All people really want is just a way to click on a song and hear it as many times as they want to.

    A minority may want a physical copy. The T-shirt, mug, logo cap, etc. are all here to stay as a way of displaying affiliation with an artist.

    • lassial

      Streaming is media transportation technology. It’s not a radio.

      Sometimes it might provide a service which uses a radio interface, as Spotify does, but more often it will require serious configuration and playlisting from the user, as Spotify does.


  12. Dry Roasted

    Ari, why are you cheerleading for a company that is screwing you? I can’t understand that, Spotify does not have your best interests in mind, not at all. Please know thy enemy and dance very carefully with the devil, but don’t drink his Kool-Aid!

  13. Chris H

    These misnomers “The music Business”. The future of the “pre-recorded sounds” business MIGHT be streaming but I doubt it. Your cream rises theory is somewhat laughable in the poorly curated (Beats is a small step in that direction) world of streaming. Streaming is for wallpaper music, not for things you hold near and dear as sacred. Sure I’d Stream “Back in Black”, but I have personal connections to that music because I wore out numerous physical copies of it. I don’t think I’d stream something 5k times and have the same connection.

    Secondly, these “Future of” are ALWAYS wrong. Ringtones…big for a year. Streaming, maybe big for a year. But from the tech point of view, several of my fellow readers got it right; It’s ALWAYS about giving up the content for cheap, or ideally FREE and you’ll make YOUR money somewhere other point down the trough. That so many artists (the author included) continue to fall for this year after year astounds me.

    How bout:

    We REALLY go after those enabling piracy and stop pretending, in an NSA world, that it’s “Technologically impossible”?

    We value music for what’s it true value is and stop being forced to subsidize businesses like Spotify that obviously dont have a business model that works or can sustain the cost of doing business, the content.

    We look to value EVERY music stream and build towards sustainable businesses that pay the artist AND are profitable?

    There is nothing hard about these concepts, except the will to do so, which seems to be sorely lacking.

  14. Brendan Killarney

    I think downloading and streaming will still be relevant, it’s way too easy and how else will we get music? Have amazon fly it in?

  15. smg77

    Great article. It’s too bad that people fetishizing the past and yearning for the days of $18 CDs can’t adapt and move on.

  16. Graham

    One thing I don’t see in this discussion is the reality of touring with a ton of merch to “make a living off”. As a solo artist it’s unrealistic for me to travel with a plethora of t-shirts, cups, cds, etc. . At the moment I can board a plane train, bus, bike with my instrument and a backpack containing living essentials (clothes, sleepingbag, amenities, food), download codes, and small merch items (I sell lip balm and a spice mix) which cuts down on my travel costs significantly. Any more stuff and I would need help moving it around. Using a personal car does make transporting it easier but jacks-up the cost of doing so disproportionately.

  17. Alan

    Hmmmm…my issue is that it would take about 142 listens on spotify for an artist to make the same amount of money as one digital purchase (even after the distributer has taken their share). You clearly haven’t thought through current cloud storage options, their growing popularity, the issues with transporting merch, dwindling concert attendance for small shows, or several other issues that many are pointing out as I read previous comments. Good on you for writing a polarizing post and getting some click throughs on your blog. Bad reasoning.

    • GGG

      Source for “dwindling concert attendance for small shows” please. And in the context of the last 15 years, not comparing today to pre-90s when people had nothing else to do than go to some bar where a live band was playing.

  18. Rufus

    I use Spotify but I don’t like it anywhere nearly as much as iTunes. Understandably this may be the way of the future but I think you’re neglecting the financial cut that artists get on this particular subscription based model, which is fuck-all (digital sales aren’t much better if 99% of the sales are the top 1% of the music).

    Let’s say you’re a popular music group (not uber-popular, but popular enough in your home country). You’d probably clock in around 20,000 streams per month. Spotify pays out to labels around 0.035 cents per stream. Let’s say you’ve got a very generous label that gives you half of that.

    20000 streams x 0.035 cents ÷ 2 (your cut) ÷ 100 (convert it back to dollars) =
    $3.50 per month.

    Even if you were kicking it – like a super-popular band streaming 200,000 per month you’re only making $35.

  19. Dave

    HI Ari,

    I knew this was you writing before I saw the by-line! Again, you’re absolutely correct. There will be another generation of music lovers to whom streaming will be the norm. Technological advances will eventually allow all of us to listen to anything we want, anytime we want, anywhere we are……at home on our superb sound systems, in our cars, walking down the street…….apparently underwater. Once we become truly acquainted with this phenomena, there will be no demand for tangible product. People generally do like something tangible, something to read or hold on to while they’re listening, but it doesn’t have to be a recording. The future belongs to those who recognize that any new technology must be embraced and utilized. The recording industry has repeatedly attempted to kill tech. It can’t be done.

  20. Veteran Talent Buyer / Promoter

    only one way to solve the problem some of you are bemoaning = stop selling cheap guitars and drum kits and recording software. When you limit the number of people who have access you limit the market. When you limit the market, you limit diminishing value.

  21. Jason Kinnard / Click & Dagger

    CD’s are dead or will be and you aren’t going to get the awesome analog sound with a digital file. Apple Lossless format seems to be heading in the right direction. There will be a point when we can really dial down the actual size of these beautiful audio files but right now the file sizes are just too big. You will never replace the sound of actually being there.

  22. Nissl

    I love my Google Play Access deal, and it has actually gotten me checking out new music. As a more casual music fan than the pros who dominate the board here, I had in recent years fallen back to only listening to bands I already liked, checking out only a few new acts per year or that had built a few *years* of buzz on trusted forums or caught me right at a festival. I’m an album-only listener, I absolutely refuse to steal, and the maybe 1/10 chance an album by a new act might stick past a couple plays just wasn’t worth it anymore. Now my playlist is full of new stuff, including about a dozen acts that have gotten something like $2-$5 in streaming fees off me in just a couple months. A couple are on my upcoming shows list.

    That said, I’m an unusual case, and I will admit streaming needs refinement, else too many artists will pull out and the system will collapse. One change should be explicit windowing, with “coming in a few months” albums listed so people who are already in the store, so to speak, can buy them. I’d buy the small handful of albums each year I really care about upfront and wait to test drive the rest. Just make the deal with each album clear to me. I suspect the new Broken Bells release only put out a few tracks as a sampler on my service for now but I have no frickin’ idea if it’s actually just an uploading error.

    Other ideas include restricting bonus tracks to purchases only or a higher pay tier, introducing multiple tiers with a restricted number of albums/plays, and restricting the number of tracks available on free services to just a couple per album. If you did a couple (but probably not all) of those I don’t think people would find it so onerous that they’d go back to piracy. Beyonce’s video tracks are a good idea for an extra tier or purchase-only as well. On top of that, more aggressive promotion of merch and concert dates on all of these services needs to happen as well. Every track should tell me if the musician’s playing a show locally in the next 6 months and have a link to buy tickets. Bundling music subscriptions in with cable and/or phone services, as AT&T is doing with Beats, also might help get things up to a sustainable volume.

    A system that rapidly swats full albums/playlists off of Youtube needs to be priority #1, though. The few pop acts I’ve tracked out of curiosity, the opening week might see roughly as many album streams as they get in total lifetime US sales. Right now you’ve got an Eminem album up with 800k views in a year. The current takedown regime isn’t working, but SOPA-style internet controls are simply unacceptable. Perhaps an industry site could be set up that crowdsources reports of violations for a few cents/10k views. Should engage the MTurk crowd as well as hardcore fans of each act.

  23. Emmett McAuliffe

    Ari .. ti kanis for writing ….

    “I haven’t downloaded a single song since I signed up for Spotify Premium.”

    The trouble is, there is no guarantee Spotify Premium is going to be there in 2 years (See And then you’ll wish you had those downloads.

    When you go on tour, why shouldn’t your mobile device be able to give you access to everything you own, via the cloud? It knows who you are. It can also know what you own. We invented a method whereby every app (including Spotify!) can check to see what you own (or are borrowing from, say, your local library). It’s called the DCE (Digital Content Exchange). Our prototype is in beta test now over at It has a lot of other features too.

    Ari, thanks also for writing:

    “We all have our favorite albums that we’ve played a hundred times on our own. And we all have the albums we bought, listened to only once, and they remain at the bottom of our play count iTunes ranking. Wouldn’t it be great if the albums that you’ve played a hundred times actually got those artists paid? Every time you listened?”.

    What you are describing was remedied in the old days by the Used Record Store. Records that you played a lot you held onto, and records that you didn’t play so much you sold back to the used record store. We’ve got that at the DCE …. in digital of course .. and the artists get paid, too. Used record stores couldn’t give artists a share of the sale proceeds on those used sales, because it would’ve been an accounting nightmare. But in the digital age, it’s a snap. “How does the artist whose record gets played 100 times, but never gets sold back to the use record store, profit from this?”, you ask. Answer: the record becomes scare on the Exchange, and the artist can issue more “shares” of that record, which people of course pay them for. So … no reason for artists to give up on getting income from people buying their records.

    Ari, thanks for reading.

    we also have a slide deck here, if you want a deep dive:
    in the cloucloud

  24. tired

    Spotify decided that Streaming is The Thing, and has been trying to make it so through marketing, because that works financially for THEM.

    Google decided that The Video is The Thing, and made it so because that works financially for THEM.(i.e. search for any artist’s track. The first thing that comes up is a Youtube video, even if that artist doesn’t make videos and all that is on Youtube is fan-uploaded music with a placeholder image)

    Artists, think about what works financially for YOU, and do that. I’d recommend using your own brain and ignoring these condescending “In The Future This is How You Will Do It” articles.

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  27. Glenn

    I couldn’t disagree more with your conclusion. Spotify pays barely anything to the artists. I mean, a can of soda for most in a good year.

  28. The serious clown

    I think CD sales will stabilizes in a few years, vinyl will stay a niche product as mp3/ACC downloads will become, streaming will be huge but the real future is lossless streaming, lossless downloads and still CD to cater the real collector and vinyl lovers will change to cassettes by the time we all get a media implant tuned in to our space ship.

  29. Noel Troy

    Good point about downloads taking up space and being difficult to manage.
    If your downloads are on the cloud, it becomes a non-issue.

    Moreover, sites that sell downloads should allow you to easily & indefinitely stream the songs you’ve downloaded.