What we lose when we relay on streaming

Posted by: on Feb 25, 2017 | 2 Comments

Recently the complete music catalog of PRINCE was made available on streaming services for the first time. Also the last notorious refusers, the German band: Die Toten Hosen recently flodded streaming services with their music. Sounds great, right? Everything there. Always. And Forever. No?

This fantastic article at the HipHop Mag DJ Booth points out the importance of collecting songs in the streaming area.

Too much is missing, and anything can be removed at any time.

In 2010 I organized a panel at A2N in Berlin (the interim’s follow up for PopKomm Conference, where I was founding member) with the titel: Access vs Ownership – Stop digitizing your music collection!? with: Helena Kosinski (Marketing Manager, The Nielsen Company), Christoph Lange (Managing Director simfy, CMO), Thorsten Schliesche (Geschäftsführer), Napster Deutschland GmbH und VP Sales und Marketing Europe), Tom Nieuweboer (Head of Digital –  !K7)
One of the questions there was:

“Is this really a future we’re heading towards? And how soon? Today’s reality isn’t quite there yet. After all, as soon as we leave our wifi zone, we have to resort to listening to – or “consuming” – whatever we own, we’ve bought or simply have stored on our hard drives or CDs. We haven’t yet reached the state of complete disconnection from physical media. So, how long will it take until we can really get everything and anything we want from the cloud? What is the state of the art of consumption of creative works?”

Just 5 years later we are there. Streaming numbers and payments for streaming took over physical downloads. And rumours are around, that the music download soon will be history. But lets not focus about payment at this time. Just about consumption. More people than ever are listening to more music ever. Fact.

Sounds fantastic, right? But lets look a bit deeper into it why masters ownership being a root problem in the streaming era:

In this era of music streaming, if a song isn’t on the popular services, does it even exist? Better yet, how long until it is completely forgotten?

Not all songs on my mixtape series  “Sharing Means Caring”  are available on streaming services. I always try to rebuild these on Spotify but it never works + labels/distributors intend to redeliver music to digital services, which has the effect, that after a while the playlists are getting thinner and thinner, when you do not maintain them on a weekly basis, they are just a wired collection with no deeper sense. 

And no, I maintain my library on my computer, not Spotify. This I use for digging, finding and exploring music. Also Soundcloud is not a save place for me and my mixes. Recently 2 of them got deleted (one of them was from 2011) cause of the the song “Joy” by Jay-Z/Kanye West. Glad if you have downloaded the mix.

Availability is the spoiling gift and rotten curse of music streaming. Successfully searching for a song on Apple Music, Tidal, YouTube or Spotify will make you feel as if you have unlimited access, that everything in the history of recorded music rests at your fingertips. The disillusion is only broken when a search is unsuccessful, and the most crushing blow is felt once you realize what was once there has been removed.

But lets face it, most people wont recognize that something is missing. Why should they bother? Every day so many music is arriving on every service, so much music stays unheard. Most people are not diggers, right? Lean back users, they turn on a playlist and as long as it doesn’t “hurt” they stay with it. (As in format radio)  It’s also a question of devices and convenience.  Having presumed everything in one place feels comfy. And for lean back listeners comfort is more important than the question why this one album of Aaliyah is not available and they might never have heard of Uncle Berry.  (The Inexplicable Online Absence Of Aaliyah’s Best Music)

Playlist “The Saddest Songs Ever” – played at #32c2 Chaos Congress in Hamburg

It looks like the gap between “Top 20 Charts Music” and the rest (not sure how to name this) is getting bigger. That’s why services like Bandcamp are more and more important for artists. When big services like Apple Music/Amazon/GoogleMusic will stop selling downloads a big era is coming to an end but it’s a chance for music.

This article is also available on MEDIUM


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