Jumping into The Stream


Jumping into The Stream

Part Six of Look to Listen

by Muhammad Hilmi


Welcome to the age where music is legally available at the effortless click of a button, without the need to spend money. In the era of the internet where the music market is oversaturated with potential talent, the need to make oneself stand out is more vital than ever, and the need for even more efficient outlets to channel that potential into something profitable is greater than ever.

The dream of living life solely through one’s music is becoming increasingly difficult as time progresses, bound by the anchor of survival.

Where do streaming services fit in this problem? Does music streaming services benefit more towards the artist, or is it a confirming sign that music is not a feasible way of making a living? In this era, you have services like Spotify, Rdio, Pandora, Beats Music, Deezer and Guvera taking over music listening experiences for many around the world.

Online stores such as iTunes act as one-stop shops for digital music worldwide. Streaming services make the process of finding music more convenient because it eliminates the need for a listener to buy individual albums anymore. Streaming services are not a profit-driven method of distribution; it is there wholly as a convenient source, relatively benefitting the listener more than the artist. Artists still would have to rely on the support of their fans to buy their music, and playing gigs in order to sustain their career. How they are able to do that is up to their or their label’s, creativity.

Of course, with such a free-for-all model like this, artists are quick to criticize the advertised benefits of these services, as it sometimes does not reflect the reality of how the music industry works.

Artists such as electronic producer Four Tet, David Byrne, Scott Ian of Anthrax and rock demigod Thom Yorke of Radiohead are some of the most vocal opponents of the services, with Yorke slamming services like Spotify for not being beneficial for new artists, saying that the ones that will benefit the most out of the system are the major labels who own the back catalogues of big artists.

In a way, it is true. Services like Spotify will only give an artist a few cents per few thousand plays, due to the sheer volume of music that is available on the service. If you’re a label-less act, or a relatively cult act like Galaxie 500, your day job still is the best option for you to earn your everyday living.

Putting your music on these services does not guarantee immediate exposure either, making the task of marketing the music more important than the music itself.

The unfortunate truth is that, unless one is lucky, one cannot make an entire living out of music unless one has been in the industry for years. If one’s aim as an artist is notoriety, then look no further or shorter than a major label, but caution the creative restrictions that come at its price.

In Indonesia, the streaming system is still receiving slow exposure, known only to a small group of people. The availability of mobile applications for streaming services would benefit much towards exposure and the services’ operations, but internet connections here, especially in mobile outlets, are not as impressive as most of the world is, so that might be a problem that the services have to put up with.

The streaming model could work for Indonesia, if only more people were aware of cashless payments. Ditto for Bank Indonesia to begin educational campaigns on how people can be more aware of their finances. Piracy is still (openly) rampant in this country, with the numerous flashy pirated DVD stores shoving their lights into our eyes. Since internet based services rely on online payments, there must be a change of mindset for Indonesians to further take up cashless payments.

Streaming has the power to defeat piracy as one of its strong points, and in Indonesia, it is a system that the country seriously needs.

Overseas acts are being able to tap into the Indonesian market by either collaborating with local labels and having their music put on these services. Due to the relatively unknown status of this system at this point, it would still take years to implement fully as a significant mechanism of distribution.

And so far, only Deezer and Guvera are the only major services available in Indonesia with significant local libraries. The recently entered Rdio could start expanding on this too. Particularly, Deezer has boasted about its enthusiasm and its success in the Indonesian market, saying that its collaborations with local artists have managed to drive up subscriber numbers, pulling away listeners from the need to illegally download local music.

Once you make something as listening to music be even more convenient, the public may direct their interest towards that direction. The fewer Indonesians have to put much effort into obtaining something, the better for them.whiteboardjournal, logo