Streaming Platforms: Helping You Become Popular or Making Music a Marketing Tool?

3 min

As noted in the first commentary to our article about the parliamentary proceedings from YouTube in the United Kingdom, in a situation of dissatisfaction with the level of payments from the largest video hosting site, many begin to view it exclusively as a tool for marketing and attracting listeners’ attention. Let’s discuss whether this makes sense.

Photo: Caught In Joy. Source:
Photo: Caught In Joy. Source:

Nothing new

In the 1930s and 40s, as the Western pop music industry was gaining traction, many authors and performers worried that technological innovations would only harm their careers. There was nothing surprising in this – then the producers simply gathered musicians in the studio, put a couple of microphones and asked them to play everything as it usually sounds at a concert. Recordings of studio sessions really sold out quickly, so there was a risk of a decline in ticket sales for performances – some of the audience lost interest in them and were content with material that they could play and listen to on their own at any time.

This is why unions have championed the right to a steady income from the records and tried to compensate for the losses from the lack of attendance at the show. But the labels were in no hurry to meet them, and almost all the 40s went strikes… Trade unionists were prohibited from cooperating with record companies, but it was extremely difficult to influence the work of the latter. The labels managed to replenish stocks even before the beginning of the conflict, plus – they released hits of past years and worked with the so-called “hillbilly”, which were not part of the professional community and could record where and how they saw fit. And far from everything was banned: musicians came to play on radio stations, recorded vocal parts, which was quite allowed, and collaborated with government agencies [кстати, именно так в те годы пополнялось число изданий на V-Disc‘ах — это были грампластинки, предназначенные исключительно для служащих в вооруженных силах США]…

Image: Remirus. Source: Wikimedia
Image: Remirus. Source: Wikimedia

Just a couple of years after the end of the strikes, twice as many records were sold – the demand for them has certainly grown. The labels made certain concessions, albeit very insignificant in terms of remuneration to musicians, only in 1948, when the development of mass television was already in full swing. The use and distribution of musical creativity for commercial purposes was becoming widespread, and the approach to compensation for the work of authors and performers simply needed to be reconsidered. They suffered the most from the strikes – the audience listened to what the labels and radio stations released, forgetting everything else.

how stressed In his blog, a former Coinbase engineer, with minimal losses, only those who made a bet on reaching the widest possible audience, instead of fighting for a slight increase in the thickness of the wallet, got out of the crisis situation.

What now

History repeats itself almost completely. While alone complain about the level of payments on the part of streaming services and YouTube, others see their advantages in this site. The most obvious is the ability to reach a multi-million audience with a total number of users in two billion… In this case, the algorithms of the platform are called upon to help with the recommendation of content, which, moreover, is still a free video hosting service. FROM potential disadvantages or not – we have to admit that YouTube dominates its niche and the music component is no exception. If in February last year 20 million people subscribed to the company’s streaming service, then over the next seven months the number of listeners has increased. by 50%… In this case, we are talking about regular payments, which means a likely increase in compensation for streams. Platform representatives are already open declarethat in just four years YouTube will become the leader in this indicator.

Photo: Szabo Viktor. Source:
Photo: Szabo Viktor. Source:

Can authors and performers demand something in a situation where the company provides them with such a large-scale infrastructure and capabilities – of course, but within reasonable limits. Many skip the payout dispute altogether and use their YouTube channels to promote their music on paid streaming services. For example, the authors of “lo-fi” compositions, which, according to the laws of the genre, cannot make money on advertising, act in a similar way.

So music on one streaming platform actually becomes a marketing tool for other songs, performances and merch. Another thing is that with the last two points all over the world, things are not quite the way the musicians would like. It is still difficult to understand what in such a situation they can promote – in addition to their own profiles on alternative sites – and whether they can earn only by not letting fans forget about themselves, as their colleagues did in the old days. Let’s see how the situation will develop and analyze its dynamics over time.

What else do we have on the topic and not only in the “Hi-Fi World”:


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