After days of uncertainty, its official; Apple Music will receive Taylor Swift’s latest album. This epic battle has made me think about something I want to explore here on the Htet Tayza blog today; the history of streaming and where this revolutionary mode of consuming media could go next.
Advent of streaming
Go back 15 years, and you’ll find that streaming didn’t exist. Go back ten years, and you’ll find that people had only just begun to talk about streaming. What a difference a decade makes. Streaming may be a relatively new concept, but it’s one that has redefined the way people across the world consume media.
Streaming services such as Netflix and Spotify have made it possible for people to watch their favourite TV shows and listen to their favourite albums without directly paying the artist/creative who developed the production in question. Along with downloading, this has irrevocably damaged the sale of physical media consumption formats such as videos, CDs and even the relatively new DVDs and Blu-Ray discs.
Artists fight back
This has left the artists in an untenable position. They can’t generate revenue from traditional media sales but many streaming services, most notably Spotify, provide them with lacklustre royalties when thy use their work.
There has been a pronounced backlash in the artist community. One notable example is TIDAL; the music streaming service bought by rapper Jay Z and that’s now part owned by some of the biggest artists in the world, including Beyoncé, Nicki Minaj, Kanye West and Madonna. The whole idea of TIDAL is to hand power back to the artists.
Taylor Swift takes on Apple
However the most obvious example of late has been Taylor Swift. She withdrew her back catalogue from Spotify last year because the streaming model, in her opinion, didn’t properly compensate artists for their work. Recently she pulled the same trick on Apple Music.
The megastar informed Apple Music that it wouldn’t be allowed stream her latest album, 1989, because it had decided to refrain from paying artists any royalties during a customer’s three month free trial period. Unbelievably, her stunt worked and the service reversed its policy. According to USA Today, Swift has now decided to walk-back her decision and allow Apple Music to stream 1989.
This really shows that artists are likely to come to play a more prominent role in the world of streaming in the decade to come. The creative community has spent years railing against technological advances which allow consumers to access their work without paying for it. They’re finally taking action and the actions they’re taking could very well come to reshape the entire streaming model.