The Real Problem With Online Radio

Published by 
Singers Corner Team
Last updated: 
February 5, 2024

I presume if you are a fan of The Singer's Corner, you have a strong belief that music is an essential part to a well-rounded and healthy life. And, if you have any doubts, I suggest this article describing the academic and personal benefits of a life enriched with music.

That said, many deserving musicians are not able to earn a respectable living. This leaves us with the unfortunate paradox of the desire, dare I say, the need, for music without giving most musicians the opportunity to be profitable in their music-making endeavors. In a 2011 article featured in the Atlantic, it was pointed out that it would take well over a million streams per month on popular online radio outlets (like Spotify and Pandora) for an artist to make the U.S. monthly minimum wage of $1,160.

In a recent article, written by Tom Hawking, he points out that Spotify’s lack of success (both for the artist and now, apparently, the company as a whole) is due, in part, to a business model that depends upon paying artists as little as possible.

While I agree with the aforementioned article, for the most part, I was frustrated that the author did not touch on what I think is the heart of the issue with the current music websites business model: a lack of a supportive relationship between artist and fan. So much attention has been given to providing cheap music for the consumer that we’ve forgotten that we need to support the artist in order to ensure the continued availability of quality music.

Without fair support for non-mainstream artists, we’ll eventually get a system monopolized by a few big-name artists with big-label representation, and this ultimately lessens creative diversity and the enrichment of our society.

Person Hearing Music on a Smartphone

Appreciation of music is just as vital to creating a functioning music industry as creating music. Neither fan nor artist should be forgotten, and we should strive toward a business model that provides balanced benefits for artists and fans, i.e. sufficient income for artists to continue their craft, and availability of affordable, good, diverse music for fans. This goes one step beyond supporting artists by buying their music directly. It also necessitates open communication between artist and fan, as well as the availability for artists to be exposed to new fans and fans to be exposed to new potential artists on a regular basis.

You may be thinking this proposed utopian system is cheap talk, and more than a little crazy… but we at The Singer's Corner think it's worth giving a shot. The system needs a change. Artists deserve the ability to generate an income and be exposed to new potential fans. Fans deserve the opportunity to support their favorite artists as well! Companies should be striving towards a community of musicians and music lovers that offers a broad range of creative diversity.

We have to keep the music alive! Tell us your thoughts in the comments.


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