Streaming has become a hot topic, heating up even more after Taylor Swift's decision to pull her catalog from Spotify. The debate, of course, centers on how artists are compensated when their music is streamed through streaming platforms. And, intrinsically, whether that compensation, or lack thereof, somehow quantifies the worth of musical art.

Some big players in the streaming market are Spotify, Pandora, Google Play Music All Access, iTunes Radio, Deezer and Rdio, to name a few. These sites host over 20 million songs and are available on a number of electronic devices and servers. However, generally compensation is structured in a way that a song must be streamed an exuberant amount of times for an artist to receive any compensation. For example, an artist on Spotify on average receives royalty payouts between $0.006 and $0.0084 "per stream" (after computed by a formula and considering other variables). So what does this look like in real life? In real life, for simplicity sake, at a rate of $0.006 per stream, an artist's song must be streamed 10,000 times for the artist earn $60.00 in royalties. Interesting.

On the other hand, Spotify has over 60 million users in 58 countries, Pandora has over 250 million registered users in the U.S., Australia and New Zealand, and Deezer has 16 million active users in over 180 countries, thus creating an undeniably impressive amount of exposure for an artist. For the emerging or teetering artist, this potential exposure, without the aid of a traditional label (EMI, Sony, Universal, Warner), can be…rewarding? Beneficial?

What it comes to is the best strategy for the artist and his or her current position and goals. Is the artist with a label that contractually controls? Is the artist planning to get with a label and thus looking to maximize exposure? Is the artist wanting to be independent with a focus on immediate revenue generation?

Seems up to the artist, whether streaming is friend or foe.