Although Adele seemed to enjoy Lemonade, Beyoncé’s critically-acclaimed sixth studio album, it was unfortunately available only to those willing to fork out as much as $17 on iTunes.
It was noticeably unavailable on streaming services like Spotify.
Beyoncé’s decision to avoid sharing her music on streaming platforms prompted many Wake Forest students to opt out of hearing the pop artist’s most evocative and politically charged record to date.
Streaming services have altered the landscape of sales in the music industry dramatically over the past 10 years, and along with these changes, a decline in total revenue for artists has followed.
This decline in revenue comes predominantly from the new marketing model advanced by services like Spotify, Pandora and Apple Music, which yield far less for the industry.
These platforms provide consumers with access to enormous catalogs of music, in exchange for ad exposure or a subscription which costs less than the equivalent of one CD per month. Advertisement-based streaming and subscription streaming grew by 32 percent and 52 percent respectively from 2014 to 2015.
The offer of nearly endless music for pocket change is a hard bargain to pass up for students, especially when Spotify offers a discounted service for collegiate users.
“It’s cheaper,” said freshman Abby Moore. “Even [Spotify] Premium is cheaper than buying every song.”
Moore said she hasn’t bought a song from iTunes in years and had to think back to middle school to recall the last time she went out to a store and spent money on a CD.
More often than not, students are preferring to leave compact disks to gather dust on store shelves and iTunes tucked far away in some hidden folder on their phones. It seems that Millennials are not very drawn to the kind of music that they can hold in their hands.
The increased market share of streaming is problematic for the industry because it values the work of artists at a much lower rate than other media. Billboard estimates that it takes streaming services 1500 plays worth of ad revenue in order to equal one album purchase.
The result is that far less money reaches artists after the streaming platform and record labels take their share of the profits. Less money for their work is frustrating for musicians, but for most, the exposure that streaming services provides is a better alternative than iTunes sales.
Recently, streaming has surpassed digital downloads, holding 34.3 percent of the industry’s market share. This leaves students with a decision: pay more to support art or enjoy their music for cheaper. The trends seem lean to the latter choice.