SoundCloud Culture and Its Adverse Effects

The music industry and the way we consume music has changed drastically in just a matter of years. Just think – five or six years ago most of us were still buying music; who does that anymore? And no, your $4.99 student subscription to Spotify Premium doesn’t really count as buying music.

An artist barely makes a fraction of a cent from a stream. And that money never goes straight into their pocket, anyway. It goes to label heads, and trickles painstakingly slowly back down to the artist. Don’t forget that producers, co-writers, publishers, etc. all have to get paid from those streams, too! It isn’t rare for the person who performs a song to receive the least amount of revenue from streams/purchases.

Hopefully you guys are still actually purchasing music from the artists you love. Streaming is drastically altering the music industry -- and not always in beneficial ways. But I can rant about that another time. Let’s talk about the interesting aspects of streaming sites like SoundCloud and Spotify! 

SoundCloud, in particular, is a really great platform for unknown, unsigned, and even casual artists. SoundCloud presents opportunities to artists and fans that didn’t exist, say, 10 years ago. SoundCloud makes it possible for anyone to get their music out there and it makes it much easier to be discovered by record labels, despite how insignificant their funds may be.

However, some might argue that platforms that make it possible for literally anyone to be an artist result in lazy artists who don’t have to work nearly as hard as aspiring artists used to. These days everyone can be famous, but artists and genres trend for a bit and are quickly forgotten. Fame is fleeting in the SoundCloud era. 

SoundCloud has also made artists easily accessible to fans, which is great, of course. Fans and artists can have casual conversations about their music, artists can get instant feedback from fans, and it makes the whole experience of consuming music much more interactive than it has ever been in the past. Moreover, artists that publish their work on SoundCloud don’t have to deal with the pressures that stem from working with a label. The platform has made it possible for artists to bypass any rules that could potentially be set by a label, have total freedom and control over their art, and ultimately create music that will please themselves and their fans or followers.

Let’s move on to Spotify, where lofi hip-hop is trending right now. Some people love the lofi trend and all the curated playlists on Spotify that stem from it. Others, however aren’t so into the trend and believe that it dilutes music from other artists and sometimes contributes to theft of intellectual property. This relates to the whole idea of “remix culture,” which basically means that some artists are using preexisting music from other artists, changing it up just enough to qualify as something new and passing it off as a fresh creation of their own. Bottom line, it’s stealing. And again, it only reinforces the stereotype that today’s artists are lazy and lack talent. Sucks. 

If you’re curious about what streaming is doing to artists, feel free to check out this article I wrote on the topic. Hopefully it’ll encourage you to go by a record store and pick up a CD or a vinyl if you’re feeling fancy!