“We need the consumer to head off talk that music is free’

Streaming allows the music industry to them, but then the user must also contribute, says Martijn Van Loo, winner of the Popthesisprijs 2017. “We refuse obstinately to pay for our music.

© Dino

The tone of the many opiniestukkenen analyses about the state of the music industry today fluctuates between slightly positive to almost fatalistic. And that is not illogical. How you look to the future of the muziekbusines, and in particular to the complex phenomenon of streaming, is especially strong from which perspective you look at it.

For the consumer seems to be music streaming a gift from heaven. In comparison with the almost inexhaustible wealth of a streamingcatalogus, then in your pocket fits, it seems even a well-stocked filing cabinet today extremely limited.

Streaming also made an end to all that illegal downloading and surfing to music for free, or for a modest amount, to be able to listen to and ‘possess’. Quotation marks, because in the streamingtijdperk own music relatively. The post-ownership-mentality, that access over ownership – see also Netflix ensures that the sense of possession is maintained, even though float all those gigabytes of music somewhere in the sky (the so-called ‘cloud’).

Also the industry gets again a sigh of relief. After the decline between 2002 and 2014, with a total revenue of 40 (!) percent, the revenue in 2015 for the first time up again. Biggest factor: streaming. Yet there is no hurray-mood in the industry, I noticed when I some of the prominent figures within the Flemish music industry interviewed for my dissertation.


“We need the consumer to head off talk that music is free’

It is the ‘value gap’, which today headaches results. In a nutshell: video streaming services – read: YouTube do not fall under the same legal provisions as well as classical streaming services such as Spotify and Apple’s Music and compensate artists and the industry barely for the streamed music. The result is a gap of hundreds of millions of dollars, to the detriment of labels and artists in the world.

Finally, there is still the attitude of the artist towards streaming, which in the course of the years changed a lot. Initially, they were a lot of artists opposed to streaming services. Among other things, the music of The Beatles, AC/DC, Pink Floyd, Metallica , and Prince was at the launch of several streaming services is not available.

It is remarkable that today all these artists can be found on several streaming services. Streaming proved, indeed, that they artists can also help to a new, broad and diverse audience to reach with their music and building a bond with their fans.

Nevertheless, the low payouts of their streams for many artists a thorn in the eye. “Especially for a lot of Belgian artists mean the revenue from streaming as good as nothing’, raised Tom Kestens (musician and president of the Society of Authors of Light Music) several times already, in op-eds.


Streaming proved that they artists can also help to a new, broad and diverse audience to reach with their music.’

As a result, the live industry, where artists today, especially their income should seek, under pressure. The wages go up, the ticket prices also. For many bands is a shortage of opportunities to play gigs. Piece for piece consequences of those scarce revenue from the muziekverkoop.

That brings me back to the beginning, with you and me, the consumer. Because despite the systematic dismantling of illegal music downloads, it remains the ‘music is free’mentality is still too strong doorsluimeren in the minds of the consumers, who obstinately refuses to pay for music. It is to the music industry to that bad perception from the head of the music fan to talk to. Furthermore, should they concentrate on the value gap and the need for transparent payout. Only by responding to these shortcomings the renewed growth of the industry is safeguarded and a sustainable relationship between the consumer, industry and artist.

Finally, if you need a last-minute cadeautip: give your muziekminnende neighbour streamingabonnement gift. I’ve had the top on my wish list, so that by 2018 a year may be full of musical delight and discovery. I wish you the same!

Martijn Van Loo graduated this year as a Master’s degree in Cultural Studies and is one of the three winners of the Popthesisprijs 2017, with his project Of analog to digital to the cloud: The rise of music streaming through the eyes of the consumer, artist and industry’. Also Matthias De Rouck and Rob Coninx prizes.

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