Has Video Streaming Killed the Radio Star?

Streaming music and videos has become a part of our daily lives. Whether you’re on the bus, or at home, streaming your favorite tunes and watching the latest videos is just a click away. 

With major streaming sites such as YouTube and Spotify all battling to gain more viewers, they manage to provide users with an incredible service. As long as you have a quality internet connection, you will easily find whatever track or music video you are searching for. 

Instead of calling up a radio DJ asking them to play your song requests, all you have to do is type in the artist or the song into the streaming search engine. The worrying feeling you get when you’ve scratched a CD with your favorite band is a thing of the past. If you were around in the early to mid-nineties, you probably remember attempting to fix a damaged cassette by sticking a pencil into the wheel of the tape to help you unravel it. New advanced technology has allowed us to listen to tunes and watch music videos almost hassle-free.

Having all this choice has been great for us listeners, but how has it affected the music industry?

It’s more difficult for Musicians to Make a Living

There are many reasons why musicians make less due to streaming. Although many of us don’t feel sorry for these artists as they all seem to be doing exceptionally well, but smaller artists tend to struggle. Very few musicians in the world whose full-time job is to write and play music make a decent living, and since streaming has become popular, it has gotten even harder. 

Here are a few of the reasons why artists don’t make as much money as they used to:

  • Chart battles are a thing of the past: Before, many artists worked very hard to try and promote their single and the date on which it was going to be released in an attempt to get it as high up the charts as possible. Without streaming sites, the only option you had to buy the single was on record, cassette, or CD. These singles were not cheap, so they would generate a lot of cash for both the record company and the artist. Streaming has changed this culture, as these sites encourage users to binge on individual artists. Both the streaming sites and the record labels benefit from artists who get a lot of streams. 
  • It’s Free: Yes, this is the main problem most artists have. Although some musicians believe all music should be free, understandably most of the others strongly oppose the idea of free music. There is a payment structure which we will go through in the next paragraph, but in comparison to generating revenue from radio plays and people going out to buy the music in stores, artists make a  lot less than they used to during “the good old days”.

Steaming isn’t bad news for every musician. Many artists have made a career from streaming sites such as YouTube or Soundcloud. These platforms are a great way to find upcoming artists. Anybody can easily upload their music videos onto YouTube and some of the world’s most famous celebrities and artists have taken full advantage of these platforms. Justin Bieber is the perfect example.

Streaming sites might help Save the Music Industry

Not all streaming is free. You can get trial versions of Spotify and watch music videos on YouTube for free, however, you will be forced to watch adverts. Users can be left feeling frustrated after being bombarded by advertising campaigns, so these sites allow you to access them, without any advertising, for a monthly or annual subscription. In comparison to buying albums and singles, the subscription fees tend to be very reasonable. Major artists such as Ed Sheeran and Drake have generated incredibly large sums of cash from streaming their music on Spotify. 

So, what is it that determines how much a musician will earn per stream? Well, few factors depend on how much they will make:

  1. Where is the location the listener is streaming the music from?
  2. Is the listener streaming by logging onto a paid subscription account or are they streaming using a free service?
  3. What the artist’s royalty rate is.
  4. What streaming platform are they using?

Most streaming sites offer musicians different rates of payment. The artists get paid per stream a minimal amount. Some feel that it’s not enough, however, others feel it’s better than nothing.

Streaming offers Music Lovers much more than just Songs

Streaming services like YouTube seem to have videos on every part of the music industry which very few of us would have been able to access in the past. Here is a few examples of the content you can find on YouTube that has changed the music industry:

  • Live Gigs: If you are not able to go to a music festival or a live gig for whatever reason, YouTube often has replays, or sometimes stream the live show uploaded on their platform. During the current situation with the ongoing pandemic, live acts are almost impossible to come by. Watching live shows on YouTube is a great way to help you pass the time while you’re stuck inside.
  • Learn how to play a musical instrument on YouTube: There is an abundance of musicians giving free tutorials on YouTube. There are major advantages to learning to play an instrument on the web. Let’s take the guitar as an example. In the past to learn the guitar you had to hire a music teacher. You have to play at a certain time, and they will likely teach you music that you don’t want to learn. If you like the Beatles, you can easily get beatles chords online and click go onto YouTube to find out how to play them. Learning online allows you to choose when you want to learn and helps you go at your own pace. Before you know it you’ll have let it be chord mastered. 
  • Interviews: For any big name artist, you are bound to find interviews and other content on YouTube. This allows you to find out lots more about your favorite musicians. 
  • Music Videos: The days of waiting for MTV to play your favorite songs are a thing of the past. You can find all your favorite videos on YouTube, new and old. 

During the pandemic, YouTube seems to have saved many of us from boredom on more than one occasion. 


Records, cassettes, CDs, DVDs all seemed to have limited shelf life. Streaming, on the other hand, doesn’t seem to be going anywhere, anytime soon. With over 4 billion people having access to the internet on this planet, streaming sites look to be getting bigger. 

Strangely enough, some users find this amount of choice frustrating. In the past, you might put a lot of thought into purchasing an album before you handed over your hard-earned cash. Most people would listen to the album from start to finish. Nowadays, it seems people don’t listen to whole albums which sometimes won’t help you appreciate the artist as much. Good music is often music that grows on you, and if you didn’t like the song at the start, you can just click on something else. It’s a strange complaint many people have, as in the “good old days” the thought of having such a large library of music is unimaginable.

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