Thursday, March 3, 2016

With so many streaming options, why are Americans still obtaining music illegally?

Written by Armand Valdes — If music be the food of love, then our current music industry is an all-you-can-eat buffet.

You can pretty much listen to any artist or song at any time you want on countless amounts of platforms and streaming services. But are we reaching a saturation point where more competition is actually hurting us? Are we, consumed by the infinite choice of music options available, reverting back to the days of Napster when consumers found it easier to just download music for themselves?

The problem isn't a lack of access to our favorite music, it's that you have to find it in so many different places.

If I want to listen to 1989, I have to go to Apple Music. If I want to listen to The Life of Pablo, I have to subscribe to Tidal. And while this creates a healthy market of competition, it creates a huge hassle for me when I’m trying to make a unified playlist of my favorite songs.

And so, when faced with any adversity to obtaining something it wants, the Internet always finds a way. Just ask Yeezus.

The Life of Pablo was torrented over half a million times after its initial release when the rapper refused to release his album anywhere other than Tidal.

And while piracy over P2P networks have been cut almost in half since 2004, new forms of acquiring unlicensed music have appeared in the form of streamripping, storage lockers, mobile apps and hardware swaps. All in all, 57 million Americans are still acquiring unlicensed music, 35% of which are people that purchase music, according a new report by MusicWatch.

So perhaps we still have some time to go before the dream of a celestial jukebox is entirely realized. Streaming services have yet to turn a profit, and artists are still fighting for fair compensation for their work. Meanwhile, plagued by so many choices, it seems like consumers will need fewer options before they can commit to a service they like.

Not to mention that people will always want free stuff, leaving us to wonder how much we value music when it’s so easy to obtain it for free.

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