To Stream or Not To Stream?
Back when I was a teenager, (as opposed to the old fart I am now) we had no idea what our favorite band’s new album would sound like, unless of course you were one of the lucky few to hear a brand new song at a show. Album streams weren’t too common and the suspense was usually always gratifying once we had our hands on a physical copy. Nowadays, album streams are almost expected, usually one week before it’s release date. I am so guilty of album streaming, I’ve kind of turned it into a crime. While artists encourage their fans to stream new albums in it’s entirety, I think it robs us of the experience of bringing home an album and listening to it for the first time in our bedrooms, absorbed in it’s lyrical content and album art. Back then, we didn’t have so many choices. We dealt with what we were given and we were okay with that. Not that there is anything wrong with choices, but the power to choose has turned us into a culture of “gimme gimme” while the magic of some things have died down.
While some album streams have been helpful in the sense that if we don’t particularly like what we hear we won’t waste our money while others only enhance our need for it, because after all, we want what we don’t have…yet. In a culture of instant gratification, I’m trying to shy away from anything that will shake my patience. Waiting is so worth it, for anything worth having in life. Some fans even feel that if an album starts streaming online, people will find a way to download the whole thing without bothering to buy it. It’s a sticky situation that some of us, even artists, don’t even realize we’re getting into.
With many internet based music sources like Spotify and Pandora, music is available to us 24/7. With dozens of albums at our fingertips, buying music, especially in physical formats, has become irrelevant. One of my favorite spots in NYC to buy music, J&R Music World in downtown Manhattan, has moved to a smaller location with what seems like a smaller selection. This saddens me. Every album in that store is available to stream for free. When you think about it, it really is mind boggling. While purchasing Haim’s record this past Monday, I saw a lot of shoppers pouring over every album and that gave me hope that buying music isn’t a dying art. While in line waiting to pay, a guy behind me asked why I was buying The 1975’s IV EP when I could just stream it on Spotify. I told him, “to have and to hold.” Somehow, I am the lunatic here.
Next week, October 8, is going to be a huge day for new music releases! So far, I’ve already streamed two albums that I’m planning on buying and I hate myself for it. The most important one, St. Lucia’s When The Night, is currently streaming on VH1.com and it is taking every ounce of restraint within me to not spoil the surprise. I’ll probably cave under the pressure and listen to it anyway, but I just wish that some things were kept well hidden until it’s time of release.
CNN posted an interesting article last year on this topic. Check it out here.
I want to know what YOU think!
Fans: Do you usually stream an album before it’s release? Does that influence your decision on buying them?
Artists: What are your thoughts on album streams? Do you encourage them or try to shy away from them?