Tuesday, November 24, 2015

Who Pays For Music?

Adele's third studio album, 25, has broken the U.S. record for most records sold in a single week, with over 2,433,000 copies. The record was previously held by NSYNC, when their album No Strings Attached sold 2.4 million copies – in 2000. Forecasters also predict that 25 will become the United Kingdom's fastest-selling album in history.
The record, reported by Nielsen, had been unbroken for over fifteen years, and with the rise of pirating and music streaming services, it seemed rare that universally acclaimed band NSYNC's achievement would ever be toppled – until 25 turned up out of the blue, uninvited.
Streaming appears to be the way of the future – and artists are fighting back. Up-and-coming pop singer Taylor Swift publicly fought against streaming services – specifically, Spotify – whose users opt for the free service with advertisements more frequently than the premium, ad-less service, which reduces the artists' royalties for having their work distributed. Small-time rapper Jay Z began the music service TIDAL (which many other artists co-own and are stakeholders of) to combat this issue. Adele herself has refused to make 25 available for streaming – but has put it on Pandora, which works differently from other services with its radio-like quality, which does not make the entirety of the album available for listening at once.
So the question is: who does pay for "records" any more? If buying an album at once is no longer in our future, then why has Adele become a record-breaker?

-Do you pay for streaming services? What is your opinion on artists refusing to have their work on these platforms unless they are paid accordingly?
-Do you believe that Adele has resurrected the concept of buying albums?
-Do you think that music is something that should be free or paid for?
-How do you think this broken record will affect the future of music?



Hannah Fontanos said...

I think the reason why Adele became a record-breaker is because she has a lot of supportive fans. I'm not an avid fan of Adele myself, but I am an avid fan of a few Filipino artists and K-Pop groups. As a fan, I want to support the artists that I really like and spread the word about their music to other people. One way to support artists is by buying their songs or albums. I don't pay for streaming services, but I often use Youtube to listen to music. I don't really think Adele resurrected the concept of buying albums because people still do purchase albums, but I think her new record brought more attention to the concept of buying physical copies of albums; this might urge more people to buy albums and perhaps even bring back the trend of buying physical copies. I believe that artists have the right to refuse to have their works streamed for free, but personally I think that artists should still let their works stream for free because it gives people the chance to sample the song first and see if they really want to purchase it. While many people would still choose not to pay for the song, there would be a few people who would want to purchase the song (if they like it enough) and support the artist. I would prefer if we didn't have to pay for music, but I know this wouldn't be very practical. Artists need money to continue making more music. If we don't purchase songs, how can we expect artists to put out new songs in the future? Overall, I think that Adele's broken record will inspire more people to buy physical albums. Fans of other artists may be inspired to purchase albums to help out their favorite artists and bring them more recognition. When it comes to their favorite artists, people can be very supportive. I'm one of those fans who is planning to spend $60 on all three versions of my favorite male K-Pop group's new album - all for the sake of support for my favorite male group. Loyalty varies from person to person, but I have been a fan of this group ever since their debut and I choose to purchase their songs and albums in hopes of seeing more songs from them in the future. I kind of went off on a tangent there, but going back to Adele, I think that her new record has a positive effect on the future of music.

Lea Tan said...

I think Adele specifically became a record breaker because she had not released a new album in a long time, and people were extremely excited about her new album release. As for whether or not music should be free or paid for, I believe that it should be free. Music should be available to everyone no matter their financial status, and by making music something you have to pay for, I think it creates a bit of a divide between social classes. I understand why artists such as Taylor Swift refused to make their music available on streaming platforms like Spotify because it does essentially give their work less value, but only monetarily. Their music is still valuable, and by making it available to everyone, more people will be able to appreciate their work. I think the biggest concern is how artists will continue to make a lot of money off of their music if people stop buying and begin streaming for free.

Emily Shen said...

I read this article this weekend that tried to analyze the behavior of millennials (http://www.washingtonpost.com/sf/brand-connect/millennials-coming-of-age/) and there was something in there about how sharing is supposedly becoming more important to millennials than ownership, and this extends to music as well. Are artists like Taylor and Adele fighting a losing battle? Do you think that, in the future, the music streaming industry will ever overtake the way we used to listen to music?

Jared Mayerson said...

I agree with Lea that Adele broke the record due to her showing, "up out of the blue, uninvited." She hasn't released much for a while and the popularity of "Hello" increased rapidly. Personally, I do pay for my music but have never bought a full album. I buy a $1 on iTunes when I decide to because I rarely listen to a full album. I do not pay for any popular streaming services, too. I don't think this record break will have much effect on music and I don't think Adele created a lasting effect on the concept of buying music. However, I do think music is a thing that should be paid for because it is something that many people love to do for a living. When answering this question, we can't just think of music stars like Adele but also have the consider the local musicians. Music is a form of art that requires work. It's a luxury that people can pay for, it's just easy to get around that today.

Sameer Jain said...

I think that it's important to recognize that music is the artist's occupation. It's their job. While artists do value and look the appreciation they get from the listeners, money is still an essential consideration. I definitely think that music is something that people ought to pay for, especially for on-demand listening. Although artists can make money through touring and sponsors, they are definitely entitled to charging money for the products that they make, as making music is their occupation. It is also important to note that there can be variation in the way that the artists make money for their music. For example, most places that allow on-demand listening (Spotify, YouTube) do not physically charge money for each listen, but rather place ads in order to make sure that the artist makes some sort of revenue.

Regarding the original post, I think that many people still do buy albums in full, through systems such as iTunes. I don’t think that buying an album at once is no longer in our future, because many strong fans will buy an album just because it is by a certain artist. That is very likely the case for Adele’s record-breaking album. She built a very strong reputation with 21, and people are already excited for 25 because of “Hello.”

Regarding streaming, I feel like it is up to the artist, even though people may not like it. Like I said before, the artists do care about appreciation, but money matters quite a bit as well. If the artist feels like it is not worth putting their album on streaming services, then it is up to them. I don’t think that Adele’s success is really a statement about the premise of streaming services, but rather a statement of how good her album actually is. The availability on streaming services does not really affect album sales anyways, since you don’t really buy any items specifically.

Anna Joshi said...

Although I see Jared’s point that music is how artists make a living and that is why it should be paid for, I agree with Lea on the idea that paying music does create a disparity between social classes. I’m curious to know how much performers make when they go on tour, since it seems like they make a great deal. If this is the case, then I don’t see why this isn’t as satisfying since their fans are literally paying to see them. Also, if money is the problem, I don’t see why performers don’t just increase their ticket prices, by even a dollar, for it will still increase their total profit. Even more, performers can get creative with their fandom to generate revenue, for example, the members Kardashian/Jenner clan each created an app (which costs money) that gives fans a look into their daily life. If performers have a strong enough fan base, I’m sure they could do the same showcasing covers of other songs, and even give a “behind the scenes” look of creating a song.