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To Stream, or Not To Stream – That Is the Question

By Dwight Brown
Whether ’tis nobler in the mind of TuneCore artists to suffer 

the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune—or to prosper…

Streaming is about as controversial as climate change. It’s easy to take a side, but does your side support the facts or what artists are actually experiencing?

Fellow TuneCore artists explore the subject and reveal how they make it work for them, or ignore it all together.

Streaming is a ways to a means:

Docwatson – AKA Jacob Malish, CEO, Reflection Music Group

“We offer music through YouTube and streaming. It brings in more revenue. Sure not selling a record vs. streaming is not the greatest. But, the best way to approach this, in my opinion, is put music wherever we can to hit our listeners where they are, to help with our discovery and find ways to create more revenue.”

There are concerns about the loss of download sales, but…:

Lisa, Owner, Trouble In Mind Records

“It is a concern but it’s sort of a catch 22 right? You want people to hear it (music). However, the devaluing of music is sort of gut wrenching and constantly on our minds.”

Streaming, in some cases, can open doors:

Mark Orr, Founder, LAB Records

“There’s no doubt in my mind that there is a small reduction in download sales – but nowhere near enough to consider not delivering to streaming services. For the primary demographic for our artists (15-24) Spotify is growing quickly as their main way to listen to and discover new music.”

A live-and-let-live streaming strategy works for some artists:

Jonathan Pardo, Free Association Management

“It all flows from different sources. Our general philosophy is give the people what they want, when they want it, in whatever form they want it in.”

Streaming can lead to exposure:

Mike Clemenza, Managing Director and Co-Founder, B3SCI Records

“Streaming breaks artists if you get the right people on board. Ideally you build the profile of the project and its overall brand, making for an equitable asset that will translate to sales. Streaming services, PROs and consumers will soon catch up to making streaming experiences more equitable for content owners.”


To stream or not to stream? Artists have to figure that out for themselves. And for most, it’s a work in progress.

Read:
10 Reasons Why Every Artist Should Be On Spotify
The State of the Music Industry According to TuneCore Artists

Upload your music today, if you’re a TuneCore artist.

If you’re not a TuneCore artist yet, join the TuneCore Artist community today.

  • MIGRATION

    Streaming is for suckers…i have been making music since before most of you were born…and, i’ve never “paid to play”…whenever i’ve signed a recording contract or had a song published, i get front money, so that the company i am entering into business with has a vested interest….it’s the only way to guarantee that they will uphold their end of the agreement…
    it costs me a thousand bucks to properly record one of my songs…and, while i’m not making music to be famous or to make money, i do everything i can to at least break even…which i can do with selling some 1400 downloads…to get my money back via streaming requires selling some 8-10 million streams (and that ain’t agonna happen)…
    these crooks running these steaming services keep putting a spin on how much they pay out in royalties….don’t fall for their b.s….they all pay about 1/100th of a penny per stream….if you respect your work, then boycott the streamers…
    good luck, folks…

    • tunecore

      Thanks for your input! What do you find are the most practical or helpful resources for promoting your music if you’re skipping the streaming route?

      • migration

        there are a lot of hats one has to wear when making music…and, if you can’t wear that hat, then align yourself with someone who can…if you’re not a strong singer/player/producer/engineer, then find those who are, and put ’em to work…be a storyteller, and write the strong original narratives…then totally dial it in when you’re recording it…then find or generate the killer graphics to promote it…and put together a great video to show it off (easy to do yourself with such software as iMOVIE)…get the tracks and the videos on the strongest sites (FACEBOOK/REVERBNATION/CDBABY/YOUTUBE/VIMEO/etc)…and link it all together…then beat the bushes for the blogs that feature your kind of stuff, and get them to review you and write an editorial about how mondo you are…and get your local newspaper to talk you up…if you’re a writer, then get face to face, with artists who could record your songs…or promote your songs to their sites…then get to L.A./NEW YORK/NASHVILLE/AUSTIN/NEW ORLEANS/etc and play some gigs and kick in some doors of the shoe salesmen….err….music executives…who can get you out there…
        be confident, but not pushy…most of the music biz wouldn’t know a great song if it ran over their dog, but they know how to read confidence, and will promote anything they think they can sell…
        in James Browns’s biography, one of the members of the JBs said, “don’t ever get in James’ way, because he will run you over in order to get what he wants”….
        so, go get ’em….good luck….

  • SAD

    I have to say that I agree with the comments below . . . It seems to me that, under a streaming model where the artist has no say in the value of their music, that the artist is taking ALL the risk. If revenues are generated for artists via advertising then royalties paid are linked to these revenues. Does the streaming company have any risk? No. If revenues are down, the artist get’s paid less. If the model is subscription based then who agrees on the set price for the subscription? Not the artist . . . so as more and more streaming companies come online the competition will heat up and . . . subscriptions prices will drop. Who pays the cost of this . . . the artists. To me it seems that we artists (and perhaps on the other side the streaming companies) have lost sight of the fact that it’s the artists/musicians who have the cookie! Without music streaming or even any type of record company, bands and musicians would have something to sell. Without the music (created by these artists/musicians) the steaming companies or any sales platform would have nothing to sell. Seems to me that the model as it currently stands is flawed largely because there are no protections for the ‘content providers’, the people with the product, the artists. The reality is however, that this is the way of the future. The first streaming platform that offers a minimum guarantee payment or even fixed rate royalty to artists for streaming is likely to see a heap of musicians/artists move in their direction.

  • Liane Silva

    I do agree with most of the comments below. I don’t think streaming is necessarily good. But what’s most shocking is that TuneCore clearly has made this post a biased one: it tells you all about the great advantages, with no concern of the down sides – which, regardless of your opinion, do exist, as they do in everything there is.
    So, to me, that just means TuneCore might be trying to “sell” their own digital distribution business.

    • tunecore

      Hey Liane,

      Thanks for your feedback! We acknowledge that people are concerned with the down sides of streaming. In fact, the reason we shared this article is because of how controversial streaming has become among independent artists – there’s certainly an argument to be made on both sides. (We won’t charge you any more or less if you want to have your music on say, iTunes and not Spotify.) Have you decided to opt out from offering your music on streaming services? If so, what are some creative promotional strategies you’ve implemented to make up for that access to your music? Again, thank you for contributing to the conversation :)

  • Lanni Lundgren

    Hi is there a way to opt out of steaming the music on tunecore’s platforms? We don’t want the streaming function of the individual tracks is this possible? thanks

    • tunecore

      Hi Lanni –

      You can opt out for any of the 150+ digital store partners that may offer streaming only when you distribute your single/EP/album by not selecting them. If you’ve already distributed and now want to do an album takedown, you’ll need to get in touch with our Artist Support team, and you can do that here: http://help.tunecore.com/app/ask

      Hope that answers your question!
      TuneCore