The Parthenon

Decade of digital: streaming v. downloads

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Every generation is defined by its music. The biggest artists of the time, the most popular songs and the way people enjoy music defines every era and it seems that the streaming method of playing audio is quickly becoming the standard.

This generation’s 8-track or cassette player is found under the guises of streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and Tidal.

“I honestly think that streaming music creates an immediate availability and I think that the accessibility of media is one of the most important things about it,” said sophomore theatre major and audiophile MG Dalton. “Having music that you can listen to without downloading individual songs provides access to all kinds of new stuff for people.”

Streaming services typically play music via Internet connection instead of allowing fans to keep physical copies for themselves. For V-Club DJ Jess Hurst, the new trend is a mixed bag.

“As a DJ, I have a pretty massive collection of downloaded music that I use to play out,” Hurst said. “However, I tend to stream music that I’m listening to casually. Most audiophiles I know are completely uninterested in the streaming phenomenon due to quality issues; a lower bitrate and a slow connection can quickly add up to an unsatisfying listen.”

A great majority of today’s most popular artists, namely Beyoncé, Kanye West and Rihanna, are releasing new music exclusively on the streaming service Tidal. Access to the service comes with a price after the completion of a free trial. West’s highly anticipated album “The Life of Pablo,” is alleged to only ever appear on the service, never to be sold for downloadable or physical copies.

“Unless you are an established artist with a loyal fan base, it’s best to allow people to listen to your music for free, in hopes that they’ll like it enough to pay for it later,” Hurst said. “Today’s artists are making most of their money on merchandise and live shows; I don’t see this trend reversing anytime soon.”

Lukas Hagley can be contacted at [email protected]

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