This report focuses on the impact of the music streaming services to the audiences listening behaviors. The report seeks to unravel the cultural and the economic impacts of these streaming services to the listening practices of the music audiences.
Music Streaming and User-artist interactions
The development of technology has brought changes and new ways of media consumption by the audiences. The technologies have impacted the behavior of producers and consumers of media content. Over time, there has been the invention and adoption of music streaming services that have rocked the industry and, have impacted the conduct of music consumers. This report focuses on the impact of the music streaming services to the audiences listening behaviors. The report seeks to unravel the cultural and the economic impacts of these streaming services to the listening practices of the music audiences. The report will analyze these impacts making reference to public sphere cultural intermediary. A public sphere is a platform where people access information and have opportunities to discuss their opinions and views about issues at hand. On the other hand, intermediary culture is the mediation between production and consumption. Thus, the report analyzes the cultural and economic impacts of the streaming services on listening practices based on the public sphere and intermediary culture ideas.
Music streaming services have connected various music consumers with each other and allowed interactions with artists. The ability of music consumers to interact with other users and artist on music streaming platforms vacate from the traditional passive listenership practices. The adoption of technology in the development and improvement of music streaming services has allowed many platforms to come up with user dashboards and interaction sections. The interactions sections connect the users and artist and allow engagement about the music and the artists. According to Coffey (2016), Spotify and apple music are among the music streaming services platforms that has a connecting area on the dashboard of the app that brings together users and their favorites artist to relate more. The interactions between consumers and the musicians give an opportunity for the audiences to share their opinions and preferences among themselves an aspect that was absent in the traditional music consumption practices. Additionally, artists are able to give exclusives to their fans. Hagen and Lüders (2017) note that a connecting section is like actual blog spaces where artists have chances to share exclusive videos, photos, and post with their fans on the platform. The sharing of these exclusives sparks discussions and further interactions, bringing together the parties involved. This is different from the traditional audience practices on the consumption and listenership behavior where the consumers were dormant.
Additionally, through the music streaming services, audiences are able to review music and offer music and artist ratings. The platforms extend the discussions about the music and the artist to other social media platforms with other consumers. The discussions, reviews, and ratings are new contrary to the previous culture where the music consumers would passively listen to the music and have no platforms to channel their opinions and views on which artist is good and what music is preferred among the listeners. According to Coffey (2016), music streaming services platforms such as Spotify have segments that allow users and artist to give recommendations. Moreover, the advancement of music and artist discussion among music consumers in the social media platforms has been enabled by the platforms. Consequently, the use of the music streaming services has shifted the listener’s behavior from the initial culture of passive and dormant listenership to the current interactive practices with artists and other music consumers. The current practices also give platforms for reviews and recommendations furthering listeners’ interactions and incorporation of their views in music making.
Music Reviews and Recommendations
The increased use of music streaming services has led to the availability of all genres of music from all artists to consumers all over the world. The platforms have availed music from across the borders to listeners who are very far apart. The behavior is contrary to the traditional culture where listeners would only access the music from their local countries and local artists. According to Baym (2010), music streaming services have enabled music consumers to access large and international catalogues of music from different locations of the world. The streaming service has exposed music consumers to music and artist away from their localities. Arditi (2014) points out that streaming service has brought about locality spread in the music industry through the distribution of the music to all locations of the world. The accessibility of the different genres of music to the global listeners has expanded the music fan base and interaction of music audiences from across the borders. Additionally, streaming services has enabled the spread of different messages in music from different artist to a wide audience. Thus, the streaming services are public sphere platforms that allow artists to voice their message to an audience sparking discussions among the listeners. On the other hand, the audience access to global messages in form of music allows them to form opinions and share their views with the artists, their colleagues, and related audiences. Thus, streaming services have shifted the traditional listening practices of listening to local music from local artists only accessing global artist and different genres of music.
Music streaming services have segments that introduce new music and artist to global audiences. An opportunity for equal access to unlimited information is part of an ideal public sphere. Thus, the streaming services have changed the consumers’ practices through immediate access to new artist and music contrary to the traditional culture where artists would rarely know about new music and globally artists. According to Luckerson (2015), music streaming services such as Spotify have segments where they introduce new music and artist weekly; music that they think their consumers would be interested in, in a segment called discover weekly. The availability of such new music in the streaming platforms changes the listener’s practices from concentrating on similar old music throughout to exploring new music. Hence, streaming services have changed the listeners’ cultural practices of listening to local music, artist and old songs to the new behavior of accessing new music from global artists all through.
Music streaming services have detached music consumers from the actual happenings of music concerts. The availability of large catalogues of music for the listeners anywhere in the world has diminished listeners’ behavior of attending to live performances from the artists. The practices to streaming music from anywhere are contrary to the traditional practices of attending to live musical concerts by music fans. Thus, music streaming services are a cultural intermediary that connects the audience to their favorite music. According to Arditi (2014), one of the dominant aspects of music streaming services is the accessibility of large music libraries and geographical independence to consumers, thus, they access any genre of music from anywhere. The ability to access any type of music from any location departs from the traditional music consumption and listening practices. The consumers’ in this day and age do not have to attend music concerts to listen and enjoy music but streams music from their handsets. Hagen (2016) notes that music streaming services have servers that allow users to connect with the platform and stream any music they wish to listen to while using the internet or downloaded offline. Therefore, the streaming platforms have shifted the listeners’ practices from the old culture of attending live artist and music events to accessing unlimited music on the platforms.
Global Accessibility to Music
Furthermore, the portability of the streaming devices has allowed music consumers to access it from any location contrary to the old culture of listening to music from a specific radio program at a particular time and occasional live concerts. According to Nag (2018), music streaming services users access the music from the servers through their phones and laptops anytime and anywhere they wish to listen to music. Thus, the timeless availability of a variety of music allows listeners to use their portable devices to access music at any time. The streaming services platforms connect the listeners to music anywhere they are at any time. According to Arditi (2017), music streaming services has provided unending consumption of music from every corner of the globe as opposed to the initial view of music as a one-time event. The streaming services are detaching consumers from locations of countable live music events to endless access to music. Consequently, the music streaming services act as a cultural intermediary by bringing music at the hands of consumers. The listeners’ now do not have to schedule for live concerts at different times of the year. On the contrary, the music audience only needs a smartphone or a laptop to access music.
Music streaming services platforms have given the audience control over the type of music they listen to and when to listen. The platforms have allowed music listeners to choose the kind of songs to play or skip according to their preferences. The services have expanded the right to choose and access to variety, thus, influencing the public sphere. The authority and control is a total shift from the traditional culture where audiences had to listen to radio songs as played on the radio till the end without any influence. According to Kjus (2016), music listening services gives the audience the authority to launch their playlist on the platform comprising of their favorites music and artists. Contrary to the early listener's practices where they were dormant and consumed what was given to them through other media such as CDs and Radios’, the contemporary music listeners’ have the opportunity to choose the music of their taste and when to listen. Coffey (2016) notes that streaming platforms allow an audience to search for their favorite artist, skip songs, adjust volumes during music play or terminate the listening session upon their wish. Hence, the music streaming services has given music audience the privilege to make movements through the platforms. The right of choice is different from the early practices where the listeners would follow a specific listening order.
Additionally, the music streaming services have allowed the music listeners to repeatedly play the music of their choice. As opposed to the previous tradition where listeners have only limited opportunities to listen to their preferred music, nowadays the listeners can play their favorite song over and over again as they have unlimited access and control to do as they wish. According to Liikkanen and Åman (2016), music streaming services users have the privilege to create their own playlist where some create a static playlist and other prefer to keep changing their playlist. Furthermore, the platforms enable the users to personalize their experience depending on their day’s activities or moods. Hagen (2015) points out that users made playlists are context-sensitive and are linked to day’s happenings, feelings, and social context. Users individualize their daily playlist, categorizing music and the order they will listen to the songs. Consequently, the usage of music streaming services has influenced the public sphere giving the audiences the authority to chose the music, dictate the order of the playlist, shuffle the songs and decide the repetitiveness of the songs.
New Music Discovery
Music streaming services have allowed music audiences to share songs and personalized playlists among themselves and other internet users. The ability of music audiences to download or curate their own playlist and music libraries and, share with friends departs from the tradition where audiences would only get their music from the shops in form of CDs and albums. The prospects of sharing favorites songs on the internet and on the streaming services platforms expand the public sphere where people access and share information. According to Liljeström, Juslin and Västfjäll (2013), music streaming platforms have social dimensions where users have an opportunity to follow each other and share what they are listening to among themselves. The platforms have allowed music audiences to create their profiles that communicate their music taste and form a basis of interactions with audiences of similar taste. Anbuhl (2018) points out that, users treat their profiles as products that catalyze social interaction. According to Hagen and Lüders (2017), music audiences who share their listening timelines with other users act like music missionaries and aims to stir discussion on social sphere. The music streaming services has expanded the public sphere where music audiences share their taste and engage in discussion with other music audiences. The practice is a shift from the traditional practices where audiences consumed music passively and had no platforms to exchange anything about the music.
Moreover, the music streaming services have strengthened social relationships among people. According to Liljeström, Juslin and Västfjäll (2013), some people share music as a gift or as a symbol of appreciation for their friendship with others. The sharing of music strikes a rapport between people, make friends and strengthen their relationship as they share the same music taste. The sharing practices impact the public sphere where people meet, make friends and discuss the music. According to Anbuhl (2018), file sharing among music audiences in streaming platforms is guided by the cultural logic on social component that drives people to listen together and discuss the music. Thus, the streaming services have launched a platform to start friendships, share music and talk about the songs. The practice influences the public sphere and, is contrary to earlier practices of passive music consumption. According to Hagen (2015), through the streaming services, music consumers share their curate music libraries with other fans giving personal feelings about the music and artists. Music file sharing creates a strong social link among people influenced by the common taste of music (Liljeström, Juslin and Västfjäll, 2013). The audiences who share similar taste have great social interactions. Moreover, the streaming services have enabled emotional connections to people who listen to the same music together. Maasø (2018) notes that listening to music together with a partner or close friends evoke more intense emotions among the parties as compared to individual listening. Hence, the streaming services have allowed music audiences to bleach privacy boundaries to share, interact and connect emotionally with their friends and partners who are far away.
The music streaming services have triggered people to private listening habits. Music audiences have now opportunities to select their songs privately and listen privately contrary to the previous habits of consuming music in live music concerts with friends and other people. The practice is shrinking the public sphere as people have no room to discuss the music or share their playlists that would spark discussions among themselves. According to Hagen (2015), some music audiences do not share their music preference and playlist as they consider it as something personal. Through the concealing of their playlist and music taste, the music consumers kill the ability to socially interact in the streaming services and shrink the public sphere. The practice vacates from the tradition of attending live music concerts where the audience would receive the same playlist and have something to discuss. Moreover, the private music library denies the audience something common to talk about. According to Liljeström, Juslin and Västfjäll (2013), some music audiences prefer to have a face-to-face interaction rather than online discussions that rotate about their preferences. The lack of online discussion on the streaming platforms or social media platforms shrinks the public sphere. These listeners have a limited scope of discussion and cannot access the information from other listeners across the world.
Furthermore, the streaming services have led to people streaming music on their private gadgets i.e. mobile phones and personal computers (Nag, 2018). The music consumers listen to the music using headphones and, they are the only ones who can get the messages in the music. Thus, the gadgets act as a cultural intermediary bringing their favorite’s music at their hands. However, they limit the public sphere killing any possible sharing and discussion with other music fans.
The music streaming services have availed unlimited music catalogues at a cheaper cost to audiences. The platforms have reduced the amount of money music consumers spend on music, thus, impacting the economic aspects of the audience positively. The availability of the wide range of music catalogues on the platforms functions as culture intermediary, linking the music available worldwide to millions of people at cheaper cost compared to what they use to access them in other formats. According to Hogan (2015), music consumers are the greatest beneficially of the music streaming services as they access large music catalogues at a cheaper cost compared to traditional ways of buying music CDs. The platforms, thus, allow music consumers’ to cut down their music budget allowing them to listen to a variety of music at any time and anywhere they wish. Fleischer and Snickars (2017) note that music streaming services such as Spotify charge a monthly subscription of € 10 for audiences to have unlimited and undisrupted music streaming on the Spotify platform. Additionally, Spotify allows the subscribers of the premium package to access the playlist while offline. According to Nguyen, Dejean and Moreau (2014), music services platform enables subscribers to make music catalogues available offline and play the music anywhere at any time on their gadgets. Prey (2016) notes that premium subscribers to music streaming services listen to the music in public transport, while at work through their phones and at the house at no extra cost. The ability to access the music while offline again reduce the money spent on internet usage and accessibility. The practice impacts the economic aspects of the users positively. Thus, the accessibility of cheaper music on music streaming platforms allows more listening to a variety of music at any location.
Furthermore, the streaming services have reduced the purchase of full-length music albums by music consumers. Buying of music albums by consumers is an expensive affair putting into consideration the music fan would only be interested in only a few songs in the album (Savage, 2016). The music streaming services have allowed the listening of single songs of an album from the services as compared to buying complete CDs. According to Forde, (2017), prior to music streaming platforms such as iTunes, music consumers had to buy full albums to be able to listen to their favorite tracks as most recording labels did not offer single songs. IFPI (2017) observes that with the use of streaming services consumers are able to select individual tracks from a host of music albums. Hence, the streaming services have provided access to cheap music and provision for consumers to select individual songs and personalize their playlist. The practices have enabled timeless listening of cheap and favorite music at any time of the day from wherever location one is in the world.
The music streaming services have allowed the sharing of music among music audience as a result of free music available on the platforms. The sharing of free music catalogues has increased the listening of music at any time and anywhere. According to Holt (2010), other than social connectedness where digital sharing involves sharing of personal information, digital sharing of music can be still be perceived as an economic behavior model. The sharing of music cuts down economic expenditure on music by allowing people to access songs at little or no cost. According to Aguiar (2017), streaming platforms such as Spotify offer free access to music to all music fans. Moreover, the platforms allow music downloads and sharing of music files to social networks or friends through other platforms such as social media sites. Wlömert and Papies (2016) note that music streaming platforms such as Spotify have the provision of linking the accounts with social media platform such as Facebook and share music or receive updates from the networks on the music they are listening to. Hence, through the use of music streaming services to access free music, audiences are able to share music among friends and social networks circles. Additionally, the platforms have triggered the practices of listening to music together. Music audiences now converge and listen to streaming music from a single source. According to Maasø (2018), music audiences now connect streaming services from their gadgets to external loudspeakers and listen during house parties, hiking activities or family meetings. Thus, the streaming services have allowed music lovers to converge and listen to music as a group during different functions.
Music streaming services have led music lovers to listen to music from their handsets at any time from any location. The platforms allow music fans with internet-enabled mobile phones to access unlimited songs anytime they wish. According to Nag (2018), the music streaming services have gained popularity over time due to the affordability of smartphones by music consumers. The streaming services allow cheap access to music over mobile phones as long as one is connected to the internet. The growth in technology allows streaming services users to download mobile applications and listen to the music from them without visiting the streaming services websites (Thomes, 2011). Thus, mobile streaming services only require the users to own a smartphone to access the unlimited free or cheap music. The advancement in technology has made smartphones available and at a cheaper cost. Moreover, the affordability and accessibility of internet in most parts of the globe have enabled music streaming services user to listen to music over their phones from any location.
Furthermore, music streaming services offer a cheap monthly subscription to premium accounts that allow users to make music available offline and listen to them on their mobile phones without further access to the internet. According to Arditi (2017), most music streaming services enable users to store the music within the memory of the streaming platform application and make it available offline. The provision makes sure that subscribers can access their playlist from any location even when the area is not internet covered. Hence, whether music fans have subscribed or free accounts they are able to access and listen to music from their mobile devices at different locations and at any time as they may wish.
The streaming services have enabled users to listen to their favorite music without necessarily owning the music. The streaming platforms such as Spotify allow users to register for free accounts or premium accounts at a very cheap cost per month. These provisions give the users opportunities to listen to music without buying and owning the music. According to Hagen (2016), music streaming services can be compared to a library where people rent books for use and then return them. The platforms only allow users to stream the music without claiming ownership. Pittman (2016) notes that most streaming services including Spotify do not allow download function for the users. The services, thus, restrict users to online streaming and offline storage to application memories and not that of their mobile phones or laptops. The practice vacates from the traditional practices of buying albums from music stores or record labels to listen at home. According to Luck (2016), users of streaming services cannot make their own music copies from the files. Hence, the cheap and free access to online music in the streaming services have shifted the music consumers from the behavior of buying music to listening for free or at a small fee from the platforms.
Consequently, the cultural and the economic impacts of streaming services have influenced music consumer listening practices in a variety of ways. The services have triggered active and interactive listening habits from the consumers through the connecting areas where users interacting with colleagues and artists. The services allow the linking of social media sites with the platform and boost users’ interactions. The streaming has allowed users to engage in explorative and discovery listening. Users access new music and upcoming artist from across the world and get to know the new music of all genres. Furthermore, the users now engage in de-contextualized listening by accessing music from the platforms other than attending live music concerts. The users have control of their playlist and practice unstructured listening where the select, skip, repeat and terminate sessions as they wish. Streaming services users now engage in networked and social listening practices. The audiences create curate playlist and share with friends and social networks where they bond and interact more. However, some users engage in privatized listening. They do not share their playlist and timeline online and only listen while alone on their headphones or laptops.
Moreover, the streaming services have enabled timeless listening from the audiences due to the cheap subscriptions to the services platforms. The free accounts that allow free accessibility of music have enabled the sharing of music across networks and triggered social listening. Further, audiences now are listening to music on their phones as the platforms have mobile streaming applications and allow offline storage on the app memory where one access at any location without any further need of internet connectivity. Lastly, music audiences using streaming services listen to music without having to buy or own the music. The listeners only need to sign up for free accounts of subscribed accounts at a small fee and listen to the music. Hence, the streaming services culture and economics have impacted the listeners’ behaviors.
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