What are your thoughts on subscription / streaming services?

I have seen this a hot topic that flares up again and again under artists.
Especially japanese artists seem to be opposed to add their music towards streaming services. So why not have a discussion about it, how we all think about it, from the fan view.

So first of of course
Does anyone use services like spotify, apple music, youtube music etc?

  • I do use subscription/streaming services
  • I don’t use them
  • I am thinking about using them
  • I will never use them

0 voters


From japanese artists tweeting things like this

I hope that whoever came up with the system of subscriptions will go to hell.

The tweet was done by jpop singer Makoto Kawamoto and is by now deleted.

To artist tweeting things like this

There’s no better system than an algorithm that recommends your music to listeners who are likely to like it. On the other hand, there is no mechanism for a CD to be posted in the mailbox of someone else’s house who might like it.

You can find the original tweet by Sailing Before The Wind’s Bassist here

And then we can find artists saying, they wouldnt have been able to do certain things if they wouldnt have opted for subscription services

The side saved by subs.
→The same is true for our band. Without subs, we would have had to get CD stores to carry our CDs and sell them in order to reach outside of Japan (a very high threshold), and if they were only available on CDs, our budget for merchandise and music videos would have been cut because of the cost of making CDs and the risk of inventory.

The tweet was made by Akuru, Bassist from Lost in Again, and you can find the original tweet here

Now it might be harsh to compare a jpop singer that is active since a long time to some small metalcore bands, but its surprising for me often to see that its especially smaller artists who seem to be more grateful for the option of using streaming services/subscriptions.

Of course a certain amount of critic on spotify and co is justified, especially accounting the problematic of artists often getting barely paid, if even at all.
But on the other side subscriptions open up possibilities that wasnt there before.

Talking from my own personal side, i live in a country that might put up customs twice the amount a CD did cost if i import from another country.
Reasons i am not even trying it.
Which means the options i have left are downloads and subscriptions.
Subcriptions can be even be a good idea if you have trouble with having a phone storage that is constantly too full. (at least i am struggeling with it and my phone is my main source to listen to music)

I feel like there is so much more to the topic, but i will leave it here for now.
Tell me your thoughts everyone

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I don’t really like the transition towards streaming services, but I’ll use them when they’re useful to me. I already have YouTube Premium, so I use the streaming service that comes with that and it’s totally fine. I prefer having my music stored locally in better quality - but if the choice is between paying ~$100 for a single CD or listening to the already-existing version on streaming, I’ll almost always pick the latter.

It’s come in handy. I streamed the last Cali Gari album for a few days before I ripped my copy, I’ve used it to listen to Deadman releases I’m missing. Artists that I want to get more into like Sugizo and BUCK-TICK are actually available on streaming, so that’ll be much less of a chore once I get around to it.

I’ve also started warming up to the radio/suggestion features YT music has. I’ve discovered a lot of music from artists I’ve been aware of - but never actually listened to - just from letting the radio play after finishing an album. Sure, it’s more gratifying for me to find music through suggestions/just reading about bands, but I’m not going to complain about finding good songs this way.

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I’m of two minds on it. I’m not that big of a fan of relying on it by any means. I’d rather buy physical CDs, digital downloads, that I can keep forever and never have to worry about some arbitrary copyright bullshit making it get taken down. Shipping costs are certainly making this a lot more difficult, which leaves digital downloads. I’m not the biggest fan of paying money for mp3 files especially, but if it helps a band I really like then at least there’s that.

The suggestions and algorithm is helpful to find new bands, especially when you don’t have any friends to recommend bands to you like we used to have back when I was a newer VK fan. It seems like everyone relies on algorithms now, not really my favourite thing.

I’m also concerned about how much money small bands (because that’s what VK bnds are) might be losing through such services. I’m sure we’ve all read about how Spotify barely pays artists but a fraction of a cent per listen and takes most of it. Kinda irks me, but what can you do really.

I was staunchly against them for a while, but I’ve relaxed my stance a lot. I think my main concerns come down to 1) Bands being paid enough for it to be worth it 2) streaming not leading towards the abolishment of physical releases anymore (seems unlikely so far thank god) 3) People relying way too heavily on the algorithm and whatever is “most popular” instead of willingly exploring VK themselves, which leads to missing out on many bands, especially older ones not on Spotify/streaming.

But I do stream the hell out of bands I love on there cause I know it helps them in the long run :sweat_smile:

Edited to add: I did focus on VK here, but I think it could pretty much apply to indies bands overall. The majority of what I play on streaming is actually western bands

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Talking about Japanese bands mainly. I think that streaming services are a good way for bands to put their music out there regardless of the small revenue. Especially for us western fans. I understand that we are not the main target demographic for them so they don’t really feel like they have to do this kind of promotion, and since Japanese really like their physical media they have even less reason to put their music up on streaming services. But it all can lead to the situation we have among us international fans where we basically sell stuff between ourselves or use second hand markets or wait for one person to buy the release and holefully shares it. The bands get nothing from this. This is much worse for bands that don’t use digital platforms even outside of streaming ones at all. Like Ototoy for example. I am more prone to buy the release if it’s on there rather than it’s just a physical one. It’s all just extra income for the band that takes zero effort to make by providing basic online availability.
As Missa (@Camera_Obscura) said streaming services can come in handy when they have stuff that would otherwise cost a fortune to get and it’s also good for approaching artists you might want to get into. I myself don’t and won’t use them because I like having my own offline library of music and I can’t even listen to music outside, which would have been the only reason I would taking into account using streaming platforms, because I can’t use headphones anymore and I have no data plan. One thing that is good about them is that it saves you storage so you don’t have to be wary of running out of it.
I also don’t agree with the complete shift to streaming platforms. Imagine if you have no internet. Others above me made their points too and I agree with them

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I hated streaming services then tried two free months of Apple Music and I can’t go back. It’s made it so easy to try a shit ton of different artists and the catalogue and work put into just the one for Japanese music or Japanese rock is a testament to the work that Apple has gone into curating the service.

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altough i personally rely a lot on subscription, i do think its great if bands go on releasing CDs and giving the option to their fans
I do think that subscriptions could give bands actually a feeling maybe for how many CDs a band would even need to press, and do they have enough demand to ship overseas or not etc.

i remember a time that streaming and downloading services was often argued to reduce the amount of pirated music. I do wonder how much it has actually changed?

So i actuall googled it and indeed subscriptions have reduced the amount of pirated music, but also that comes at a price of course. I dont know how much it is exactly for japanese music now of course.

Thats what google said:

A European Commission study claims that there’s “clear evidence” of Spotify reducing illegal downloads, with every 47 streams leading to one fewer bootlegged track. However, that’s offset by the lost revenue from people who might otherwise buy songs outright – there’s one lost song sale for every 137 streams.

If that is now good or bad, that i guess is up to you.
(Someones wanna do the math, if the reduced pirating actually brings anything? because i suspect that it doesnt bring a lot accounting the amount spotify pays per stream)

3 Likes

A lot of what’s been mentioned here reflects my attitude on the whole thing. I ultimately believe it is a net positive, and adding older releases siphons income back to the artists instead of the secondhand market. The music suggestion algorithms used by the major players are invaluable nowadays, and while I look at the the “Lewis & Clark” days of my music journey with much fondness, the fact that they’ve made music discovery so seamless for a newer generation of young listeners cannot be understated. We’re already seeing music streaming’s reciprocal effects on the music industry with innovativeness at an all time high.

In terms of how it’s affected my own music consumption, Apple Music JP and Qobuz are the ones I’m subscribed to.

I used Spotify Premium for a couple years, but with Apple Music JP’s larger, lossless Japanese (and visual kei by extension) library, it was a no-brainer to switch for literally the same price. Spotify has enough data on me where I just use Soundiiz to import my Discovery Weekly playlists directly into Apple Music once a week. Nothing missing so far iirc, besides the occasional manual search if the importer doesn’t pick up on a track-or-two.

I use Qobuz for my audiophile SACD-like quality needs, and I can switch between DACs (which themselves are hooked up to other amps) seamlessly within the application. Use with Roon is another plus.


Somewhat related, but I use Cider on Windows for Apple Music. I get capped out at 256 AAC, but that’s not a big deal, imo. What’s really neat is there’s a plugin to create tree diagrams of similar artists as shown below:

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It stays nice to buy you music on a disk. However I also like that you don’t need to pay so much shipping costs to get a CD to your home.

Sure artist don’t get much back from putting their music available online, lots of services also cost lots of money (and if you don’t sell well, its expensive)

Sure it helps against pirated music, yet people who don’t wanna buy often download the pirate version and don’t even stream it.

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Yeah, usage fees can be an issue. I notice there are current differences between Tunecore and Tunecore JP (the more popular option for Japanese artists)

For one year of platform usage:

With TuneCore Japan, you can upload your music to more than 55 music stores worldwide in one go. 1,551 yen (tax included) for a single song or 5,225 yen (tax included) for an album of two or more songs will be charged for one year. There are no other fees. 100% of the proceeds are returned to you.

That would be a hard sell for someone to just re-up their catalog of music, not knowing what numbers they’ll draw in with that huge initial fee per-release.

For Tunecore everywhere else there’s a yearly subscription with revenue-split for unlimited releases.
https://www.tunecore.com/pricing?locale=en-us

This one shows that Tunecore’s pay-per-release reflects the only current JP pricing, so it would be nice if unlimited plans could be extended to Japan. Still though, with the low amount of streams, I feel like unless an artist wants to continue to actively promote their music, it might not be worth it. However, the YouTube-only route would be a nice hands-off option if they just wanted to make their music publicly accessible (might make a little bit in the process.) The problem is secondhand scalping for disbanded/defunct bands is founded off scarcity, where perhaps making it public might incentivize less fans/scalpers to charge up the wazoo for stuff.

now i wonder how much does it cost to press a album

Edit:
Ok i did a bit of search, sure on english websites, maybe japanese bands can get it cheaper in taiwan their CDs
The cheapest i found is 50 CDs with cardboard jacket for 99 dollar
99 dollar is currently around 14,194 yen

Tunecore Japan does offer cheap plans time to time tho.

But there are a bunch of streaming sites they can use.
And if they can understand English, I’m sure they an use the English site, with a cheaper plan to go.
We also do have bandcamp

But most popular in Japan are

https://distrokid.com/

Kind of good site for Japanese people to compare things

I don’t use streaming, I consider it similar to radio and is not my preferred way of finding music.

I still prefer having my own music on a drive and not require connectivity just to listen to my music anyway. One person at my workplace got denied a promotion just because IT was able to track and prove they used spotify too much over the work internet smh

As long as the music is purchasable else where rather than locked in a service(i.e. fuck any and all these apple exclusive bullshit) then I don’t really care too much about an artist using a streaming platform.

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Exclusivity is what brings people to your platform. Apple has exclusive music, Spotify has Joe Rogan, and console exclusives exist for a reason.

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I doubt that I’ll ever consider streaming stuff in the long run, but it can be good for previewing the music I want to buy and/or download.

That said, I’ve warmed up a lot to digital purchases in the past few years. Buying files from places like OTOTOY or bands’ webshops or Bandcamp pages (when they have them) has practically replaced buying CDs for me, as the latter’s become far too expensive and unjustifiable a cost.

5 Likes

I cannot and will not consider streaming as a viable alternative for the way that I consume music.

Music for me is not something that fits into a subscription model. I don’t like having to pay for music in good quality or put up with minor inconveniences and annoyances. The subscription model in general is another roadblock between me and ownership. I am very old-school with how I consume music; I still use an iPod! It does not help that a lot of visual kei music that I like won’t ever be put on any streaming service. Exclusivity is not a draw to me; music dies when no one is available to hear it. I put up with live-distributed releases in real life and I do not want another digital equivalent thanks.

Subscription services can aid in the discovery of new music and be very useful, but it’s often limited to whatever is available, for as long as it’s available. The engine can’t recommend what’s not in their catalog, and recommendation engines can exist separate from subscription music services. Both also won’t co-exist because long-tail revenue is too powerful and companies would rather sell you a subscription than sell you something once and then lose the ability to dictate how you use their product.

I just like owning my music, even if it’s digital files, and the process of discovering and backing up my music is a hobby in itself. So I’ll probably never convert to Spotify or Apple Music because the convenience is not enough of a draw for me.

7 Likes

I‘m not using them at all.

I‘m not into that recommendation model of platforms (not just when it comes to music) because I‘m not working that way.
I barely listen to anything new except for I feel like I want to try. Every couple of weeks I have to go through still opened browser tabs because I couldn‘t listen to the songs/previews posted (and it‘s really more of „couldn‘t“ but „didn‘t want“). Any kinda recommendation/ads annoys the hell outta me.

Aside from this depends very much upon my mood which songs I want to listen to. And it‘s often not those everyone listens to, which wouldn‘t put these songs into recommendation anyway (if available at all).

And I want to be sure to have stuff available. Which is never for sure with streaming/subscription.

Which I don‘t mind is buying digital releases even though I still prefer physical copies. For money reasons I go by both ways.
But that‘s not streaming stuff so to me like a whole different topic.

2 Likes

Console exclusives are due to hardware as much as it is marketing. Game devs have to put in resources to ensure a game functions correctly in the hardware they are trying to release to. They can cut costs by coding for a single platform instead of trying to do multiple consoles.

There is barely anything in media that requires exclusivity. Your device can either play a file format or it can’t.

As an aside, joe rogan is an extremely retarded reason to subscribe to a service. That is just a talk show by a nobody.

From an artist pov, well, I’m mixed.

As zeus said, it’s a great way to make ppl discover our music by the algorithm or by sharing it on social networks. For us, musicians, nothing will ever outdo that way to worldwidely release music without having to make it a physical release (especially the 2 or 3 tracks singles). It costs a far less $$$, is easier & quicker… simply giving you all a better access to our music. BUT, it makes you earn peanuts on every streaming or sale (a single track won’t ever be more than 1,20€/$ when the streaming income is a vaste joke). Same with the MV.

From a listener pov, well, I always use youtube and my own download/ripped files for a vaste part of my daily listening because a lot of it won’t ever be on any streaming service either. And I got the same problem with yt : it’s available as long as the artist wants it to be (hello DIMLIM, thanks for deleting every MV). I don’t see any reason to change my way on how I consume my music yet.

There’s a lot more to speak about, musician and listener side, but let’s keep it short.

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Joe Rogan isn’t Japanese please refrain from bringing him up in a tangent.

Sorry :pray:t2:I don’t use Spotify anyway. The layout and stuff feels too cluttered and clunky compared to Apple Music. Im sure the ads don’t help matters either. I’m kind of shocked OTOTOY doesn’t have a subscription option, I mean Japan still loves renting cds after all.

1 Like