Streaming vs. physical — The importance of buying music

Jay-Zhas removed all of his music from Spotify and Apple Music. | Photo via Facebook

Recently, Jay-Z took his entire catalog of music off Spotify and Apple Music, leaving only his collaborative albums with R. Kelly and Linkin Park, his least critically acclaimed and successful albums. Ever since the launch of his own online streaming service, Tidal, in October, Jay-Z has gradually removed his music from streaming services, and even YouTube. Now, you will have to buy albums or use Tidal to listen to Jay-Z’s music.

Initially, this frustrated me — but looking back, I understand. I am a Spotify user, but I did have a Tidal account in order to listen to “The Blueprint” and “Reasonable Doubt.” I was frustrated that I was paying for two streaming services, so when I heard Jay-Z took his entire catalog off Apple Music and Spotify, I was livid. But this made me realize why buying music is so important.

Streaming is convenient; it is the new way we consume music, whether we like it or not. It has become a newer alternative to pirating music because at least some money goes to the artist.

I am a strong advocate of buying music. I usually listen to new music on Spotify — or Tidal if it is an exclusive — to see if I like it enough to purchase it. If I do, I will buy a CD, and even a vinyl because I love having physical copies. I recently did that with Joey Bada$$’s new album and even Syd’s new album that dropped a few months ago. I try to support music I genuinely enjoy. 

However, when it comes to streaming, consumers have to understand that streaming is not enough for an artist to live off of. People were willing to buy albums in the eighties and nineties, so we should still be able to do that today. Streaming an album is not the same as going to the store or even buying an album on iTunes for 10dollars. Artists only get a certain amount of money from streaming, and many artists have spoken out about the lack of revenue they get from streaming. That is why it is not enough to solely support an artist through streaming.

Jay-Z has every right to take his music off Spotify and Apple Music if he wants — it’s his music. But this showed me we would not be having this problem if we did not solely rely on streaming. If you want to listen to Jay-Z’s music, suck it up and buy it so you can listen to it whenever you want. 

There are many artists whose music I cannot stream and probably won’t be able to stream anytime soon because of either label issues or sample clearances — De La Soul’s catalog, Aaliyah’s last two albums, Pete Rock & CL Smooth’s “The Main Ingredient” album, for example — so I took it upon myself to just buy them because it just makes the process easier.

All in all, streaming is great, but there are flaws. It is convenient, and it does save space on my phone by not filling it up with every single last song on my iTunes. However, it is important to not rely on it because music can be taken off Tidal, Spotify and Apple Music at any time, and artists do not get paid enough solely off streaming. We have to start investing in art. Artists deserve to get paid for their art, and if you are a fan of an artist as much as you say you are, spend that 10 dollars and support them. Pressing play on their album on Spotify is not enough and never will be. 


(1) comment

Liza Connor

I guess it's really important to pay musicians for their work. They absolutely deserve it. You have to read to understand why this happens.

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