The Future of Streaming and Artist Payments: A Gap in the Market?

Thursday 27th April 2023

Although many people still purchase physical copies of music, appreciating the physical product with its designed artwork, descriptive and often educational sleeve notes, and of course, high-quality sound that can only be accessed through a physical product, we are still seeing an eventual shift towards digital platforms for classical music. So if a complete shift to digital platforms does happen, we urgently need to address the topic of how musicians will be paid.

It’s an ongoing discussion that keeps recurring, and for a good reason, due to the small amount that musicians seem to get paid from streaming and the long discussion of how to value art. As discussed in an early blog from our newsletter, although classical music still uses CDs, we can consider the positives, as physical copies will also mean more revenue for the musicians. 

This isn’t a ‘streaming-service hate’ blog post, either. Most of them offer a lot in terms of app UI, their algorithms reflect their investment, and although some mistakes with attributing music to the correct artist can be questionable, generally, they offer a great service. This doesn’t mean they are free from the criticism of how little they pay artists, especially those in classical music.

As most major streaming services pay per stream, this can mean classical artists who sometimes have individual tracks as movements lasting 20 minutes get less money than pop artists who release 3-minute tracks. As much as I enjoy pop music, why does a 2-minute pop song equal the same amount as a blisteringly technical 20-minute final movement of a sonata? 

Specialist streaming services for classical music recognise this problem and usually pay per minute streamed to make this a fairer way for classical artists to make money. Goldman Sachs predicts that by 2030, music streaming revenue will be $89bn* – this is a considerably big pie, that we want the classical music industry to have a slice of, to benefit the longevity of culture. 

This is why we see the importance of specialist classical streaming platforms – as their payment structure breaks away from the ‘one-size-fits-all’ payment structure we see from the major streaming platforms, and we see Apple Music’s acquisition of Primephonic and the launch of Apple Music Classical – will we see fairer payment structure like with IDAGIO? We hope for creative and cultural sustainability from this acquisition and that our industry can grow as a result of the rise of streaming revenue – we all want a slice of that pie in 2030!

Let us know if you’d like more information on how your organisation can benefit from streaming platforms, such as our playlisting service. We see a lot of people missing out!

*Source: https://www.musicweek.com/labels/read/music-industry-reacts-to-goldman-sachs-global-growth-forecast/086009#:~:text=For%20streaming%2C%20the%20Compound%20Annual,to%20%2433bn%20last%20year