A musician’s world is a world in flux — and that’s more true than ever in 2024 when it comes to digital streaming spaces.
Bandcamp, a music streaming platform known for being artist-friendly, was recently sold to two companies in the span of two years. Now owned by Songtradr, the streaming website underwent big staffing cuts in October, according to former employees, and now treads into new territory.
In early January, Soundcloud announced that it’s up for sale, according to a Sky News report — painting a murky future for the estimated $1 billion company.
This year, big changes went into effect at Spotify, when the streaming giant removed payouts for musicians for tracks that haven’t reached 1,000 streams in a year.
Meanwhile, listeners continue to use streaming more and more every year. Luminate Data's most recent year-end report showed a 12.7% uptick in on-demand audio streaming from 2022 to 2023. The report also showed that 436,000 tracks were streamed at least one million times in 2023, while 124.9 million tracks received less than 100 streams. Popular musicians got the lion's share of music streams; one out of every 78 audio streams in 2023 was a Taylor Swift song, for example.
For musicians — and particularly local musicians — sweeping changes to streaming websites can create major repercussions in their work and lives. And for the vast majority of performers, streaming services offer little to no earnings, even when they find moderate success with online listenership.
We caught up with a handful of Cleveland artists to hear more about how they confront the divisive world of music streaming, and how they make the most of it. Read more below:
"Nobody pays to own a copy of anything anymore," Flanagan says. Read more
“I need Spotify because I need people to know I exist," Flowers says. Read more
"When it comes to monetizing music, my thinking is, you have to look for ways to make money other than the music itself,” Fournier says. Read more
Chris B. Harris
“I really would love to see, in a perfect world — let's get back to the model where we're purchasing physical copies of music,” Harris says. Read more
“I like not to be a doomer, but it feels like this whole model is like a black hole sucking everything dry until we don’t have anything left," O'Malley says. Read more