Apple Music, Neil Young, and Taylor Swift will drive honest people to piracy
Nowadays, most people don't buy physical media; they pay their little $10 a month for Spotify premium, or similar service, to support the music industry. Apple's exclusivity approach, however, won't just disrupt the streaming market, it will severely harm consumers and lead to piracy. Hell, it could kill streaming music altogether.
Piracy is a really heinous crime. It causes artists to lose money, and make no mistake, it is stealing. With that said, more people will be doing it because of Apple Music. Exclusives from Dr. Dre, Pharell and Taylor Swift may lead to increased torrent downloads. Sadly, the artists have no one to blame but themselves.
Don't get me wrong, I can live without Dr. Dre's "The Chronic" -- an album which is streaming exclusively on Apple Music. Sure, it is a classic album, but it is not something I have been checking for lately. But tell me that I can't have it, and now I want it. In other words, I can see how it could drive people to pirate that damn album for the principle of the thing.
I know what you are thinking -- what principle could possibly justify theft?
Think of it this way, streaming services only work if they are like an all you can eat Chinese buffet. You pay a little money, and you get to eat all you want. What if, however, there were ten buffet-style restaurants in a row, and the only way to get full was to eat at every single one. Well, it is not financially feasible to visit every restaurant and pay each entry charge. Quite frankly, there will be a lot of overlap too.
If every streaming service has its own exclusives, the customer experience at all of them suffers. It is silly to expect consumers to subscribe to multiple services, but that is exactly what Apple's antics will lead to. Sure, Apple's goal is to force most users to its service exclusively, but that will not happen. Instead, the fragmentation could be the demise of the Music Industry's best chance at staying financially viable.
Taylor Swift famously pulled her music from Spotify. She then fought Apple Music over royalty payments -- or a lack thereof -- during the initial 3 month free trial. Her public stance was successful, getting Apple to reverse course. Now, her wildly popular album "1989" is an Apple Music streaming exclusive. What are Spotify and Groove Music users to do? Pirate?
After the events of this week, I've decided to put 1989 on Apple Music...and happily so.
— Taylor Swift (@taylorswift13) June 25, 2015
One of my favorite musicians, Neil Young, has decided to pull his music from all streaming services. Coincidentally -- or not -- Mr. Young has a financial interest in competing music service Pono. While not a streaming service, Pono aims to sell music downloads with the angle that the sound quality is better.
streaming ends for me today... https://t.co/3CJUtvwjMv
— Neil Young (@Neilyoung) July 15, 2015
"I don't need my music to be devalued by the worst quality in the history of broadcasting or any other form of distribution. I don't feel right allowing this to be sold to my fans. It's bad for my music. For me, It's about making and distributing music people can really hear and feel. I stand for that. When the quality is back, I'll give it another look. Never say never", says Neil Young on Facebook.
Mr. Young is totally within his rights to pull his music from streaming services -- it is his art, after all. Still, for many fans, myself included, the Spotify quality is more than fine. I've never been listening to "The Needle and the Damage Done" in my backyard on Spotify and thought anything was lacking. It was just as beautiful as always. He is crazy to think that I will subscribe to a music service, but then spend more to buy his albums -- I want it all in one place at one price.
So here is my plan. I am going to stick with Spotify. If something I want to hear is an Apple Music exclusive, or not available on streaming, I just won't listen to it. With that said, I am sure many other people will choose to download it illegally from The Pirate Bay or an FTP site. While I do not condone it, I understand it.
Dear BetaNews readers, do you think exclusives will be the demise of streaming services? Please sound off in the comments.