Apparently, the music industry is currently in crisis. Illegally file-sharing leaked albums is hitting the bottom line of artists and record labels hard. They are therefore resorting to more creative methods to control the distribution of their new music. A favoured tactic seems to involve to giving their music away for free – Beady Eye recently made their first single available via a free download, for instance. As well as helping them control the flow of their new music, this also provides added marketing benefits in the future – obtaining email addresses and demographic information of their fans.
The most popular method used to fight the effects of the web, though, is to play the same game and seize control of new releases online hype (blogs music reviews etc…). Music streaming websites have now become the favourite place to legitimately listen to your favourite artist’s new album or single for free and, in most cases, before its official release.
Let’s take a look at some of these music streaming sites
The king of music streaming sites is Spotify. Launched in 2008, Spotify’s ever-growing database now has as just about every song you can think of. Designed with the same useful features as normal desktop media players (playlists, favourite tracks/artists etc…), Spotify’s recent ‘social-media upgrade’ now allows users to share their music preferences with their friends. Extensive artist biographies and suggested further listening functions give Spotify the feel of a complete online music community.
Spotify used to be free to everyone (the only shortcoming was that the free option came with adverts), but now a free subscription can only come via an invitation from a paying, ‘Premium’, the subscriber.
Although not quite as comprehensive or user-friendly as Spotify, We7 is slowly making a name for itself in the world of online music streaming. Its rising popularity is mostly down to it being the music-streaming service of choice for a lot of popular music websites. Recently, the Gorillaz ‘Plastic Beach’ and Richard Ashcroft’s ‘United Nation’s of Sound’ have been transmitted around the net using the We7 widget.
What it lacks in functionality, We7 makes up for inaccessibility. Unlike the subscription-only Spotify, anyone can visit We7 and start listening to the latest music for free.
An oldie, but definitely a goody! Last.fm lets users pick an artist, band or musical genre and begin listening to selected tracks straight away. Although it may seem a bit limited to some, the Last.fm is a great site to discover new artists and musical genres.
Grooveshark is basically the web-based version of Spotify, boasting similar functionality, usability and design. Where it differs is that Grooveshark streams music that other users have chosen to upload. Their aim is to rescue the music industry by generating a community of music lovers sharing their favourite tunes. Some artists, though, view Grooveshark’s music content as one massive copyright infringement, so don’t be surprised if your favourite songs disappear every now and then.