the official website for guitarist Jason Martin

Streaming Digital Music Pros and Cons


In an era where the music business seems to be going further and further south every year, sometimes I wonder exactly how bad it’s going to get. But I come from a generation that bought music in a tangible format. Today everything is streaming and I can tell you, even though it sounds like it’s going great, it’s still going to suck for musicians.

According to, album sales and track sales both declined at about 12%. However, there was another trend that isn’t really accounted for: On-demand streaming and non-interactive streaming. On-demand streaming rose 54% and would be the equivalent of selling 56 million units. Services that are non-interactive like Sirius and Pandora brought in an upward trend of selling the equivalent or 16 million units.

Vinyl happened to produce a gain last year. In the big picture, even though sales were up over 50% it only made up about 3% of music sales in general.

That all sounded like good news, right? SoundExchange, an organization that distributes royalties that happen to be collected from streaming, had an unpaid royalties balance that dipped from $25 million to $96 million last year. It’s not because they are doing anything unjust or illegal. The problem is that they are having a hard time tracking down the artist because either the artist or the label hasn’t registered the work. The data released from the streaming services was also an issue because of the inability to match the song to the correct artist and label. Partially due to songs not having an identification code known as an ISRC which isn’t mandatory right now due to the National Association of Broadcasters and Radio Music License Committee saying it will become too burdensome. Among some of the services that use SoundExchange to distribute royalties are Pandora, iHeartRadio, Sirius XM, and Music Choice. iTunes distributes directly to the label and on-demand services like YouTube and Spotify also pay negotiated royalties directly to the labels.

The pros are that people are still listening to music. Whether it’s streaming it, buying a hard copy to spin on your record player, putting a cd on in your car or just listening to the radio.

The cons, are everything else.