Music Industry

Published on October 16th, 2017 | by Alan Cross

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The Tuesday Survey, Chapter 12: Do You Stream?

This week’s survey question is very simple: Do you stream music? If so, what company do you use?

I’m curious because streaming is dominated by pop, hip-hop and R&B. It’s rare that any rock song shows up in the Top 200 of the most-streamed songs of the week. Why is this? I have a few theories.

  • Streaming use is dominated by young people (i.e. under 30), a demo that’s more likely to embrace and be comfortable with new technologies.
  • Rock is not the cultural force that it used to be. Far more young people (see above) are into hip-hop than any other genre.
  • There’s more a culture of collecting in rock than there is in both pop and hip-hop. Rock fans like to own their music outright, even if it’s just in the form of digital files.

But rock needs to get with the times lest it be left behind in more ways that one, including culturally. Given that the major labels make more money from streaming than physical/digital sales, that’s where they’re investing their marketing and development money. That means anything with a guitar isn’t getting the push it used to. This creates the potential of a vicious downward spiral where this short shrift may contribute to the decline in rock’s popularity.

But back to the question: Do you stream? Augment your answer with any explanations as to why or why not. We’ll cover the results on my 6pm show on 102.1 The Edge/Toronto on Tuesday.




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About the Author

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker.

In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.


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26 Responses to The Tuesday Survey, Chapter 12: Do You Stream?

  1. Dan says:

    I stream using Spotify. I stream classic rock mostly. Not into hip hop or pop. I’m older but work in tech so maybe that’s why I wasn’t as reluctant to try it. I like it for the convenience of setting up playlists for use in home/car/work. I like being able to check out artists full catalog or ones I never gave any time to or new ones that are interesting. I do miss the “experience” of getting an album and pouring over all the details, liner notes etc. I’d guess my connection to newer music isn’t as deep as the ones I had the physical interaction with when seeking out, purchasing and taking home a copy of my own. I used to anticipate new releases and grab them as soon as I’d heard enough on the radio to feel I’d be into it but now with so much to choose from I have an “I’ll get to it sometime” attitude. As well as this, modern radio doesn’t service Rock music fans as it did when it was the primary cultural driver. Rock music on radio seems to be relegated to playing the same old songs over and over and not promoting new rock. I think streaming is why you’re seeing so many legacy acts getting back on the road. They used to be able to count on millions of sales every year of their career output but with physical sales drying up they have to hit the road to maintain any semblance of their accustomed lifestyle.

  2. Tracy says:

    I stream and I use google music.

    I stream half because no matter what service you use, it’s platform agnostic, so I can listen on any device. That makes it convenient. The other reason for streaming is that it’s a great way to get exposed to new music. The radio plays the same singles over and over, and even if I like the song I get tired of it. With streaming, if I hear it on the radio, I can pop over and listen to the whole album, or past works if it’s an artist I’ve not yet been exposed to. After that, there are suggestions for other things I might like, and it’s easier to explore new sub genres and artists on my own terms. It’s also easy to trade music lists with friends who use the same service. If I ripped old discs, or bought the music online, sharing a custom list with a friend is harder and inconvenient to do.

  3. Charlie A. says:

    No. I prefer to own my music, whether digital or physical. I don’t like the idea of just renting or leasing music.

  4. Nikki says:

    Mid-thirties here. I stream using Spotify. Most of what I listen to is some brand of rock. Maybe I’m an outlier.

  5. Jeff Cubberley says:

    I only stream online stations with the Tune In Radio app, and only sometimes. When I do, it’s usually one of 181.fm’s rock stations. 80’s Hair Band, Classic Rock, 90s Alternative, 80s Rock, or the like.

  6. Kyle M says:

    I started streaming when Apple Music was introduced, and I haven’t looked back. I’m 41, and I have a wide swath of music interests: metal, folk, classic rock, hip-hop, classical, and whatever else catches my ear. I stream on my phone, through my home theatre system with an AppleTV, or my laptop. Aside from it being convenient, I love the seemingly endless amount of music I have access to—I love curated lists based on my listening, and I love making my own playlists for different genres, eras, moods, whatever, it’s endless. I still listen to complete albums, too, because I can and sometimes that’s what I want. I’ve discovered lots of artists that are new, or I missed the first time around.
    I realize as I’m writing this I sound like an advert for streaming, but I don’t see much of a downside. I understand the appeal of owning music, up until I started streaming I was still buying CDs. I probably spent the same on streaming in a year as I did on owning discs, but with a seemingly endless supply of new (and old!) music to listen to, it seems like the better value to me.

  7. Jeff R says:

    Yes, using Spotify.
    I have a great entry-level hifi set up that allows me to really enjoy quality recordings, so I first opt for better quality audio (LPs and CDs), especially while “actively” listening. I’ll download albums through Spotify using the highest available bitrate to bridge gaps in my collections, but I typically only stream when I’m “passively” listening – i.e. doing other things like cooking or cleaning.

  8. Michael says:

    I subscribe to Apple Music (South Africa), and am definitely buying less music (primarily from iTunes) than I used to. I use Apple Music to find and listen to a wide range of music, much of it that I would not buy. Classical, instrumental, folk, rock. I buy imported music magazines (Uncut and Mojo) for reviews of new music, and streaming lets me try out far more than would have been possible or affordable previously.

  9. Wayne Baggs says:

    I do a little. With me, the problem is content and quality. I use Jango. CBC believe it or not, Prog station. No control over content other than the station, site etc. Like most radio, it’s the programming. Get boring. Top 10 mostly, even if it’s so-called Alternative. Still predictable. Syrius has some deeper cut stations but EH! So I believe I would use it more if I had more control of the playlist. Mixed cassettes were always better at a party then the radio.

  10. Lenny says:

    I use Spotify. I am 41. I listen to punk, reggae, classic rock. I like new bands in all these genres as well. I also use band camp for a lot of garage rock. I like having music on my phone for workouts and walks and driving in the car. I love my vinyl collection though……the ever growing vinyl collection.

  11. Grace says:

    I stream sometimes, typically with pandora. I do prefer to own my music though if it’s something i love

  12. Ian says:

    I subscribe to Google play and SiriusXM. I use both apps to stream. I also collect records. I’m 40. The vast majority of stuff I stream is rock or indie rock. I’m a music lover and I love to dive deep in a catlog, or discover new music. Streaming services are one of the best ways to do that. However, once I lock onto an artist, I’m more of collector.

  13. Matt Rock says:

    Mid 40’s streamer. Currently a subscription with Apple Music, though was a huge advocate for Rdio. They just did things right. Allowing me to discover various artists I might not otherwise discover, with ease. It was a sad day when they shut down… I prefer Apple Music over Spotify as I’m not a huge fan of curated playlists, which seems to me Spotify’s push.

    I look at my Apple Music subscription as a music library card. I love the depth of available music and various genres (I’m mostly a Rock, Alternative, Metal, Punk and Pop guy. Never could get into Country Music *sudders*). I used to pride myself years back on buying a new release (or two) every payday, but with incredible amounts of music released this decade, streaming gives me more of an opportunity to branch out with a longer reach.

    I’ll buy a physical album (vinyl) now and then, but mostly as a momento from a live show. Or if I happen upon some throwbacks and memories in a garage sale bin <3

  14. Chase March says:

    I don’t like the idea of streaming albums. However, I listen to a lot of radio show podcasts. I am into underground hip-hop and like to stream mixshows. When it comes to albums, I’d rather have them in my possession as opposed to a stream.

  15. Matt says:

    I’m 36, I stream using Google Music. I stream for a number of reasons. I would love to have a large music collection, but I’m a bit of a minimalist and I tend to move around a lot. I also like to live in large cities where square footage is pricey. Streaming lets me pretend I have a large music collection without having a lot of physical media that I have to lug around when I move and which takes up space in my apartment. (Not that I don’t appreciate the benefits of physical media; I get the appeal of owning a physical album and holding it in your hands and looking at the album artwork and putting it in to the player. Just, for me, having a large physical media collection has unavoidable drawbacks).

    But even more so than that, streaming services are a great way to discover new music. I listen to Google Music’s “stations” all the time. I pick a station that suits my mood and tastes and in three hours I can learn of ten great new bands to check out. Compare that to mainstream FM radio, where in three hours I can be treated to an hour of commercials, half an hour of DJ banter, and the same Metric song four times.

  16. Merissa says:

    I’m 24 and stream my music using Spotify because it is: a) cheaper and less wasteful than buying individual albums, b) portable and flexible to play on multiple devices, and c) sometimes a good way to find music I haven’t heard before. On Spotify I mainly listen to classic rock and various forms of new rock (indie/alternative), but also use it for EDM and sometimes hip-hop. Overall I definitely listen to more rock music than hip-hop/pop though.

  17. Corey says:

    34 year old male here, I started streaming with Spotify few years ago. This year I received a gift card for a years worth of Apple Music. So I’ve used both of the big companies. I prefer Spotify.

  18. Brad McDonald says:

    Paying subscriber to Spotify. Easy to use and create playlists, can find almost any song I want, play any song I want and how many times I want, etc. Ability to download tracks in your phone is great. Number 1 reason, it’s not iTunes, the worst software/app ever created.

  19. Kat says:

    I like streaming for discovering new (or new-to-me) music, but I do *not* trust the music to always be there — if I really like it, I buy my own copies (usually these days that means legal downloading rather than a hard medium). I’m 47, and I know it’s tempting to say “yeah, you’re old”, but more to the point, I’ve been through a breakup where my partner of 10+ years walked away with nearly our entire music collection — and both of us like a lot of relatively obscure stuff. I trust corporations a lot less than I trust my ex.

  20. dave@cawley.org says:

    I’m a 51 yr old dinosaur. I stream WXPN from Philadelphia while at work because it plays lots of new and interesting music like CFNY used to. You can hear everything from the Sex Pistols to Billie Holiday, sometimes in the same set.

  21. juepucta says:

    I do, lots, depending of what i am doing.

    Tried basically all streaming services (MOG, iLike, LastFM, Slacker, Songza, Google Music, Earbits, Bandcamp, Mixcloud, Soundcloud, This is My Jam, Nusiki, etc).

    Been using Spotify (since you had to vpn the system into thinking you were in Europe) and Deezer mostly for on-demand albums and playlists, especially when away from my own music collection. This is the most used.

    Tune In to listen to stations from all over the world that are programmed right.

    Lots of NPR and CBC (among other public broadcasters) in browser streaming.

    Been using Soma FM and Radio Paradiise for a decade and a half now..

    The rest of the time i play my own music (CDs and MP3s) or, rarely, switch to FM for the jazz station or live CBC news.

    -G.

  22. Randy says:

    I do NOT stream.

    Starting in 2000, I spent many hours ripping from my CD collection, capturing from vinyl if necessary, and even a few from reel-to-reel tape. I have always curated my music in the best quality format that was available at the time and have over 16,000 tracks with full metadata, artwork, ratings, and comments.

    Music Management and player has been iTunes for at least 10 years. I find their SmartList functionality to be great, plus I am a subscriber to the iTunes Match service, which means all of my playlists are available anywhere I am signed into iTunes (PC, laptop, iphone, ipad). If the track is not already downloaded to the device I can still choose to play it. Oooh. Does that mean I actually DO stream?

    I tried Spotify in 2015 as a 1-year Premium subscription was included with a Cambridge Audio music processor I purchased. I installed on all of my devices to give a full test. The quality was fine and the convenience of easy access to new music was nice, however it wouldn’t “learn” from my iTunes ratings to know what I liked, and I wasn’t finding the genres that I wanted to listen to – Rock – Metal – Punk – EDM. What I did find was a ton of hip-hop, rap, and pop.

    I was tempted to try Apple Music but had heard such bad things about how it can mess up playlists and files that I wasn’t willing to risk my library by flipping that switch. Since both are Apple there isn’t an Undo option if it breaks it.

    • markosaar says:

      FWIW Spotify added a “Your Daily Mix” feature since you used it that offers you a choice of dynamic mixes around what it believes your tastes to be.

      I love the Discover Weekly feature they have … their algorithms eerily know me terribly well.

  23. Michael says:

    Deezer and sometimes Slacker. Deezer as I got a free subscription with my first a Sonos speakers and now the house is littered with them. Once you build playlists, it’s hard to migrate. Slacker as it came with my car (Tesla).

  24. Tilia Cordata says:

    I stream (Spotify) while I’m at work or when I don’t really care what I listen to and just want background music. A mix of pop and alt-rock mostly, but also random things like the Hamilton soundtrack, or strange music from my workout class I wouldn’t listen to otherwise.

    Otherwise we listen to a lot on vinyl, or use the digital downloads from our vinyl purchases 🙂

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