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on the streaming model


Every now and again I put on Kettel's fantastic Ibb&Obb soundtrack. I discovered it at a time where I literally couldn't afford a copy. Luckily Bandcamp would let me listen, and so listen I did. Fast forward four years, Ibb&Obb is on Spotify. Let's assume Spotify pays out something like a half cent per track listened (source), say $0.14 if I listen to the whole album, the exact amount is irrelevant, but it gave me the thought below, which I found interesting:

A streaming service asks of the artist to warrant listens, which it then rewards by paying out royalties. I guess this is how broadcasting works. On the other hand, a listener deciding to support an artist, by buying their work directly, acts impulsively, emotionally, and in judgment. From royalties' point of view, the listener pays 100 times more than they could have, and however many times they decide to listen to the work does not matter in the slightest.

I think there's an important distinction to be made between, on one side, the emotional motivation to support an artist, and on the other, the machine-modelled imposing of a rule - you have to continuously demonstrate you're enjoying the work, to warrant the artist getting paid.

How often we play something has a far weaker correlation to the enjoyment it brings than we're made to believe.

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