Streaming Music: Good or Bad?
Hello everyone and happy new year!
We're back after a lovely holiday and some fantastic Christmas shows on our mini PNW Christmas tour last month! It was so lovely to be able to usher in the holiday season with live music, and it was more meaningful than we can say to have audiences together again enjoying the experience.
So thank you to everyone who came out to a show last year!
Recently, we received a question from a listener, which is also a question we've heard quite frequently from our (very conscientious) fans, and I thought I would answer it today.
"Dear Gothard Sisters,
Thank you so much for your music. It truly brings me joy every time I listen to it, which is especially appreciated these days.
I'm writing because I have a sort of weird question. Recently I was listening to Dragonfly on Spotify, and it occurred to me that I have no idea if it supports you at all to stream your music rather than getting it on CD. The problem is, I don't have a CD player anymore and I don't do downloads either.
Do you actually get any compensation from Spotify at all? I really enjoy it and want to support you, but I just don't do CDs anymore.
- Heather V."
Thanks for your email and for asking this question! Streaming is a very interesting topic for musicians these days. It is a regular part of every day life for many people, and yet, listeners (and many musicians) still don't really understand how streaming sites like Spotify work. I didn't either for a long time!
There are strong feelings about the pros and cons of streaming and compensation for musicians, so I can only really speak for myself when I explain what I think about it and how things have played out for us.
So, here are my thoughts on streaming vs. CDs!
1) Behind the Streams
First, streaming is the way that MANY people are listening to music these days. I know that I love Spotify and stream music all the time!
Second, streaming is one of the best ways right now to find new music that you love and musicians who you want to see live in concert. Some of my absolute favorite bands right now I never would have discovered without Spotify or Pandora. We love the discovery element of streaming and know that many of you lovely listeners originally found us through Spotify!
So we're certainly grateful for that.
Third, are musicians compensated? Yes - we do get a small amount per stream. (We're talking a VERY small amount, like a percentage of a cent... something like $0.001). However - unlike a CD, which you only pay for once (even if you're listening to it on repeat!) musicians are compensated constantly when you really love their music and listen to it on repeat on streaming services. And those streams do add up over time, but it’s not enough to be a full time income for anyone.
2) Best of Both Worlds
So what does all this mean? What is the "right thing" to do?
Honestly, whatever works for you!
Personally, I get CDs from my favorite artists because I love the complete experience of having a physical souvenir, the artwork, listening to the album in the order intended by the artist, and blasting music on road trips without worrying about an internet connection. But I also stream those same albums while I'm working or exercising. Because I know those streams also add up to a monthly compensation for the artist.
Conclusion: Right now, I think there's room for both!
Plus, there are so many new and fun ways you can additionally support your favorite musicians these days. There are websites like Patreon, going to live concerts and shows, watching livestreams, getting merchandise, or just sending a CD or a video link to your friends and family.
3) What We're Doing: A Rising Tide
As you may have noticed, we have dozens and dozens of music playlists on Spotify, Pandora, Apple Music, YouTube Music and more. These are playlists that we created for ourselves, but then made them public because we thought others might enjoy them. They're really fun!
One of the things I love about creating playlists on streaming services is that we can include some of our other favorite Celtic, folk and world musicians, along with our own music. Every person who streams the playlist then discovers new artists that they may not have found otherwise. We absolutely love being able to help promote other artists this way.
Check out all our playlists here!
Well, those are my thoughts today on this misty January morning.
We wouldn't ever discourage you from streaming your favorite music. But it is always interesting to know how these things work behind the scenes!
A question for you:
I've had countless discussions about this with friends and other musicians and my own opinion has definitely changed and adjusted over time. And it will probably continue to grow and change as time goes on!
What do you think about streaming vs. CDs? Do you have a personal approach to how you support artists and musicians you love?
See you down the road,
Greta, Willow and Solana
The Gothard Sisters
P.S. This blog post was taken from one of our emails to our subscribers. If you’d like more stories and musings like these, sign up here!