By the Internet's count there are around 10 music subscription streaming services to choose from if you want to stream music.

And why wouldn't you want to stream music? For a small monthly fee you can listen to whatever the fuck you want, whenever you want.  Plus, many of these services allow you to sync music to your device which enables listening when you don't have WiFi.  This makes the pitch of streaming thus: any song, any time, anywhere.  And this is true, at least in theory anyway.

In reality, this is sometimes not the case. For example, if you aren't a Tidal subscriber, you can't listen to Kanye West's or Rhianna's new albums. If you're not an iMusic subscriber you can't listen to the latest Dr. Dre record or any of the intriguing content on Beats radio. Part of me wants to dismiss this.  The above "artists" are no more than brands at this point, anyway. Besides, exclusivity is just a new form of bullying the music industry uses to pit musicians against their fans in order to maximize profit.  (The industry has always done this to some degree.  Most recently is the corporatist transition of Record Store Day, as major labels release large quantities of supposedly limited and rare box sets only to repackage and release the box set's parts a few months later.  Yes, this fucks consumers, but really it fucks record stores, who get stuck with non-returnable, unsellable merchandise.)

However, the populist part of me wants to cry foul. Over the last 25 years the music fan has endured plenty of fucking turmoil trying to listen to music.  When I was a kid music was formatted on vinyl and cassette. Then it was CDs. Then it was mp3s, then vinyl and download cards, then FLAC and Torrent and WAV, Pandora and digital radio, and now, finally, streaming.  After all these format changes, streaming seems to be the solution for the foreseeable future. Which is why the streaming wars are particularly disheartening.  Streaming was supposed to be the compromise between piracy and overcompensation, a way for everyone to get a little of what they want. Yes, the arguments against streaming from an artist's side are legit. Artists should be paid more. But this can be accomplished by streaming services taking away the "free" option all together. Let the casual person who listens to the free version of the streaming services, the version with all the annoying advertisements, go back to listening to the actual radio.  This customer base weren't the ones pirating music in the first place.  It's a market that's been created by the music industry and exists at the expense of artists.

The idea that people won't pay for music is a fucking myth, so let's put it to bed right now. It's not crazy to ask music fans to pay for music, especially if it's a small amount like 10 bucks a month. That's still $120 a year, which has to be more than the average person used to spend on music in the height of the CD age.

But in order for a thorough and beneficial transition to streaming to work, the streaming services need to call a truce.  Artists' music needs to be available everywhere. Let the strength and design of the service, or the curated content that's in addition to an artist's official output, decide which services stay and which ones fold. If some sense of exclusivity must be retained, then let me suggest artists do what my label is doing with the Piebald digital reissues: allow a specific streaming service access to the album for a short period of time before opening it up to all.  But loseexclusivity in perpetuity.  It's total bullshit. However, if an artist truly has an issue with streaming because of its unacceptable level of payout, that's ok.  They can put their money where their mouth is and not stream their music. I can't fault Thom Yorke for not streaming his music. I may not agree with him, but at least he's making a principled stand rather than participating in a flimsy auction, propped up by cardboard logic, sold to the highest bidder.

Lastly, let's not forget the fucking point of music in the first place.  Until music is heard it remains incomplete as an art form.  Therefore, if the goal is to allow people to hear music--and it is, for countless of us musicians making it--then streaming should be a no brainer. Conversely, if this is not your goal as a musician, then please, for the sake of us listeners, stop fucking making it. There's too much to sift through already.

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