This Is How Streaming Ate Recorded Music…

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(adapted from an image by Frits Ahlefeldt)

38 Responses


    YES, IT DID!


    • TuneHunter

      Little fish with CD, at the bottom of this brilliant chart, made $40 BILLION music industry in 1999.

      YouTube & Spotify MONSTERS less than $2 (TWO) BILLION in 2013.

      Let’s deliver some fresh weeds to UMG so they can figure out new game board!

  2. Anonymous

    You forgot one: The great white that’s going to eat YouTube.

    We can’t see it yet, but it’ll be here.

    I think something like AT&T or Comcast.

    • Anonymous

      And behind them all, the POWER of ART and MUSIC!!!!

    • Nissl

      AT&T/Comcast will only beat out Youtube if they do something profoundly anti-competitive with their control of internet access and are allowed get away with it. I have zero faith in their ability to deliver a product that performs well and has a competitive UI.

      • Anonymous

        The next big fish — the YouTube eater — is going to deliver everything you want:

        High quality movies, music, communication, news and internet. All rolled in one.

        That’s how you make a billion consumers pay $20/month.


    From a producer standpoint, YouTube is the best thing that’s happened to artists in recent history. If you have a GOOD song, and LITTLE ability to do some online marketing, your songs can be heard by many. Look at this website for instance. Isn’t anything special, but it’s read by about 72,000 people a day. WAY less than the New
    York times, yet it still as a total value around $1 mill. I’d rather rely on those odds vs playing the label game…lol.

    You guys act like artists have been paid at the upper echelon at some point in history. Top level artists have made a decent living from music for a 200 year period of time in its 50,000 year history. Music has been philanthropic based for more time than it has been a commercial endeavor. YES that means music was looked upon as charity. “Artists” in general weren’t a big deal until the patronage of royal families, and still weren’t THAT cool until a banking family took over during the renaissance and became the biggest art patrons of art (not music) up to that time. They were really the ones who built the culture to what it is today, where the average person can have a tangible relationship with art culture. They used art to enrich and excite the people. That was the first time an average kid could see a musical performance and aspire to be a musician.

    No record of commercial music endeavors were made until the 18th century, when Mozart’s wife became one of the first music gangsters, mostly after his death. If you make a 1 mill + living from music, chances are most of your money ISN’T from music because your smart and you’ve already invested and/or found streams of income elsewhere, knowing if you don’t, you’ll end up like Hammer!!!

    • David

      Just curious, when you say ‘from a producer standpoint’, do you mean that you yourself are a producer of music, or are you just one of the many people who think they know artists’ interests better than artists themselves?

      • REALTALK

        I mean that I myself am a producer of music. I write, play several instruments, sing, record myself and others, have produced albums, been in recorded music for 10 years, worked out of some of the biggest studios in the country. If the wealthiest artist (Paul McCartney) is only worth 820 mill, it’s not really that lucrative of a business and never has been. It’s a myth to think otherwise. This isn’t technology, or oil we are talking about here. When you consider silly website like this is worth a million, you should also consider that you would have to write the best song of this year to see that kind of cash from a recording.

        • Anonymous

          “If the wealthiest artist (Paul McCartney) is only worth 820 mill, it’s not really that lucrative of a business”

          Really good point, people confuse fame with fortune all the time.

          Also, your take on Mozart’s wife — interesting!

          • REALTALK

            In Mozart’s wife’s defense…she really had no choice. He left her with so much debt that she would have had a miserable life if it weren’t for her business skills. Little did she know she was laying a blueprint that would be followed by the music biz to this day.

          • Anonymous

            “Little did she know she was laying a blueprint that would be followed by the music biz to this day”

            Again, a very interesting angle. It almost sounds like there’s a book in it somewhere. Or at least an article.

            Perhaps she can show us where to go from here…

    • TuneHunter

      You’re correct, YT is one of the best bazaars to display your goods for discovery.

      The problem is that only very few productions will create Justin Biber who can earn big time outside of YT. Most of the extremely good work will never reach “live income” grade and will be prostituted for near nothing on YT forever.
      Google is shallow, YT purchase of Twitch for one billion tells you how much they care for music.
      For them any content bringing eyeballs clicking the ads is good – with their lobby skills porn might be next.

      Artist or anyone posting “content” on YT should have a right to set limit of free (ad supported) runs, 100K or 500K and than the work goes into iTune mode.

    • Iain Scott

      I can’t disagree with the general picture you paint, but that doesn’t make it right.

      If society wants their artists to retain some measure of creative freedom, a freedom that has only recently been gained, then patronage is not the way to go about it.

      • REAL TALK

        A $0.99 iTunes song purchase is the definition of patronage. It’s virtual busking. The only difference in today’s world is that there is a large middle class in westernized capitalist countries giving patronage. Most mainstream artists are still receiving their backing from large majority shareholders (banking families) at labels. This is still the primary goal for for most artists. Convincing the general public a song is worth a dollar, is just as hard (or harder thanks to piracy) as it used to be. Most people would still rather find your MP3 somewhere even if it is a great song, to save themselves a buck. Not much has changed, despite efforts to paint the picture otherwise.

    • gnosis

      REALTALK, Thank you for the larger and much needed historical perspective. A music career is not a God-given right.

      And on the flip side, imagining that YouTube is both the entry and exit point for even casual fan engagement with an artist is absurd, especially given the current prices of mobile data (i.e., “The kids today” are not driving around bumping fan-uploaded YouTube videos in their rides).

      Thanks again!

  4. Contendis

    YouTube, Rdio, Deezer and Spotify are great tools for easy listening and music discovery. What these channels do not consider is that fanatic fans (the ones that will try to go to your concert and used to buy/download your albums) are willing to pay a fair buck for artist they really like. Every listener/viewer is treated the same (based on some kind of shared revenue from mostly irrelevant adds or a micro-micro payment from a subscription fee). The 80-20 rule from the past does not work here. Also the fanatic fans are paying minimal amounts to listen/view your best materials.

    Of course you can’t blame the fans for that. What artist need to do is to build a relationship with these fans directly and give them an experience without annoying adds or cluttered user experience. With the direct relationship you will see that fans are willing to pay a fair amount for a great direct artist to fans experience.

    With todays acceptance of smartphones and use of tablets I believe the best way to build this relationship is through great free apps with in-app purchase possibility and optional an all-you-can-eat subscription to the app. Of course you should still be active on all the music and social media channels but for the full versions and exclusive materials fans should get the best experience in your own app.

    • Nissl

      Of course, the tricky thing is that any audio or video media put up on a premium site can be copied (via dumb recording of what’s playing on the computer, if nothing else) and will then be on Youtube several hours later, where it will be free and probably have a better UI (since the artist, or even a pool of artists/label, can’t afford the same team as Google.) Sometimes it will be pirates looking to make a buck, but more often (imo) it’s misguided fans trying to help poorer/younger fans see the content from a band they love. Probably with a better UI.

      Still looking for the magic bullet. Live streaming where the artists respond to the fans is one experience that’s tough to bootleg (but if your fandom is around long enough and gets large enough, they may set up streams of the stream… I’ve seen it happen). Live show experiences aren’t fully captured by media, and indeed young acts are playing larger venues earlier in their careers than before thanks to inexpensive concert promotion online. But there is only so much performing and touring most musicians can do before being too drained to make new music.

  5. mdti

    At the same time, if you look it through the prism of technological evolution and consumer confort, then there is no shark or other fishes. Just the growing branches of a tree. The roots is the artists or the music. the users are the ones pruning the branches. some venture rot and fall like old branches and leaves.
    The garessivity of the picture, does it reflect an agressivity of the owners of that industry? or their fear to loose control? but if it is a tree, the labels are squirrels stocking nuts (roster/catalog) in their nest 😉

    • mdti

      the labels are squirrels stocking nuts (roster/catalog) in their nest

      and it’s winter 😉

      • Morten

        I guess you mean how streaming ate other (digital & physical) formats? I hope music will continue to be created and recorded although the appropriate compensation is an apparent challenge;).

        • mdti

          no I mean that what some see as “eating” is seen as an evolution for better by others (and i don’t mean “pirates”). even if there is not a single penny left for music in general, there will always be music because at its roots, its not about commerce.

  6. Veteran - US MUSIC INDUSTRY 1970-today

    I know a number of us are old industry pros. Some of us are deeply engaged in the business of music. Some of us are aspiring song writers or composers. Some of us have made a livable income for a career. Most of us have not. That is the way life is .. the bigger fish eats the smaller fish, and the reason I never moved to LA was ‘cuz I didn’t want to be a guppy.

    Streaming music is here to stay. I’m 60. I do NOTHING but talk to people about music procurement (whether artist, band, venue, media, or avg consumer).

    YouTube is the #2 source of new music discovery behind FM radio in recent polls of local musicians.

    For those under about 35 today, YouTube is #1.

    You guys figure out cause. I just figure out how to turn my next paycheck.

  7. GGG

    Funny how you never mention how much music you stream in these articles, Paul. Every day you shit on a service/concept you use literally every day of your life. What’s the point anymore? How bout an article with ideas on how to grow streaming and get some constructive ideas in the comments, besides just making us all curse at each other for page views.

    • Anonymous

      “How bout an article with ideas on how to grow streaming and get some constructive ideas in the comments, besides just making us all curse at each other for page views.”

      …or perhaps an article with ideas on how to stop piracy? I’m sure we could get a lot of constructive comments about that.


      “Grow streaming” is as biased as “stop piracy”. Both concepts make readers curse at each other.

      • GGG

        Spotify killed/is killing piracy. If you don’t see the entire landscape of media/content consumption is moving to streaming/cloud, let alone just music, I don’t know what to tell you.

        • Anonymous

          “Spotify killed/is killing piracy”

          Oh please, GGG! 🙂

          Beyoncé proved that millions of consumers go straight to iTunes when their favorite music isn’t available for free on Spotify and YouTube.

          That’s the most important lesson the music industry has learned since 1999.

          • GGG

            Dude, stop it with this. How deluded are you? Beyonce proved nothing except Beyonce is fucking huge. That’s what she proved. She proved the internet will collectively shit it’s pants whenever she does anything. Even things indirectly related to Beyonce, like the Solange/Jay Z incident, are more newsworthy to people than anything actually important happening in the world. That is the lesson. That Beyonce is a cultural powerhouse that can steamroll everything in her path.

            Think even Katy Perry or Rihanna could have pulled that off with the same success? Think again.

          • Anonymous

            “Think even Katy Perry or Rihanna could have pulled that off with the same success?”

            Not sure what you mean — Rihanna’s Spotify-holdout Unapologetic was her first #1 album on billboard.

            And I’m sure Katy Perry will follow suit.

            All in all, your attempt to rewrite history is pathetic.

            The year before Beyoncé’s anti-streaming success, Taylor Swift made history with her legendary Spotify-holdout Red.

            It sold more than 1m during release week and made her the second-highest female debut on billboard ever, only behind Britney Spears’ Oops from 2000.

            Before that, Adele’s Spotify-holdout 21 became the best selling release in 2011 and 2012 — globally!

          • GGG

            I’m not rewriting any history. According to Wikipedia Unapologetic sold 238K first week. That’s quite a ways away from Beyonce’s 800K in what, one day? I’m not talking about number 1s, that’s meaningless now with sales as anemic as they are. No major label or artist as ubiquitous as Rihanna should be proud of a number 1 record at 238K.

            And again, Taylor Swift is on the same level as Beyonce, more or less. She’s always sold an enormous amount of albums. )Does Rihanna even headline arenas one night, let alone multiple year in year out?) Of course holding out from Spotify would be beneficial for a period for Swift.

            Also, Spotify launched in the US like 6 months after 21 came out, so not really an album you can use for argument.

          • Anonymous

            “No major label or artist as ubiquitous as Rihanna should be proud of a number 1 record at 238K”

            Weak, GGG.

            Rihanna has every reason to be extremely proud about her #1.

            Bottom line: Windowing is the best release strategy today.

          • GGG

            Weak? It’s facts, man. You’re such a fucking pushover for major label acts it’s ridiculous and sad. You’re like an intern on their first day. Rihanna is one of the most culturally visible people and only 238k people cared enough to buy her record in, what you agree, is the most important week. What does that tell you? That very few people care about her as an artist. They care when her tits are out, or she’s smoking pot or she’s getting her face punched in, but not so much for her as an artist. Of all the pop stars I tend to like Rihanna’s songs the best, so this isn’t even me knocking on her. 238K is shit sales, and it proves that Beyonce is on a level beyond most acts.

            And way to end with something I’ve agreed with multiple times to make it look like that’s what this argument is about. Pathetic.

  8. Ricardo Sousa

    When Streaming and itunes increase their bitrate to 24/96, ill plug it to my HI-Fi and leave CD.

    • Anonymous

      First, sample rate and bitrate are two different things.

      Second, we were through all that recently and all blind tests show that nobody can tell 16/44 from 24/96. Most people can’t even tell modern (iTunes) compression from CD quality. And that goes for engineers, as well.

      In other words: 24/96 files are only relevant when you’re mixing — unless you’re a bat.

      We can all agree that the old 128-mp3s sucked, but that was then…

      • Anonymous

        I can play a 24 bit mix in my studio and then its 320 mp3 counterpart back to back, and anyone over 12 and under 65 can spot the difference.

        • Anonymous

          Then I’m sure you and your golden-eared friends will be happy to prove your superhuman abilities in a public ABX test for us all to see. 🙂

          Could be thrilling — nobody has been able to do it yet.

          Not even with 256s vs. 24/44.

          • mdti

            common, may be not anyone can spot it, but saying that nobody can is not true.
            I can, my friends can, anyone mixing or mastering can. Anyone can when they know what to hear. Information is power 😉

          • Anonymous

            “I can, my friends can, anyone mixing or mastering can.”

            But of course. I’m sure you won’t mind proving it in a public double blind test, then?

            The funny thing is that most music lovers and engineers, plus their friends and families, say they can tell the difference — until you ask them for documentation. Then their magic powers mysteriously disappear.

            I’m not saying they are lying. They’re not. It’s just a classic case of placebo; they really believe they can tell the difference. And tests always prove them wrong. They might as well have flipped a coin…