Conventional wisdom is that subscription music streaming services like Spotify—which now drive more overall music revenues than direct downloads—drive significantly less revenues to artists themselves. That's true if streaming service revenues are considered in isolation.
But, the promise of streaming is very different, i.e., that subscription services can actually catalyze EXPANDED artist revenues by opening the door to new fans (expanded audience) and deeper direct fan-artist engagement (and all of the myriad new revenue opportunities that go with it). I wrote about this previously at length in Billboard in an article titled "Why This Venture Capitalist Is Optimistic About the Music Business"—and called this a new "community-based" business model for artists in which each individual revenue stream today may be significantly less than they were in the past, but taken together, they ultimately may drive greater overall revenues.
The problem is that few, if any, major streaming services embraced those possibilities. Until now.
In a major shift—important to understand, embrace, and expand into other major music subscription services—oft-overlooked granddaddy streaming service Rhapsody just announced a significant new strategic partnership with artist-fan engagement service BandPage to bring unique fan-artist engagement offers (like VIP meet-and-greets) into the overall streaming experience. This means that as I listen to the new songs by MUSE on Rhapsody (a service I still use today because it is the offspring of the service I helped introduce a decade ago as president & chief operating officer of Musicmatch) I will receive notifications of upcoming shows near me in real time (and special offers related to it). And, that's just one obvious example. It's up to artists, their representatives, and the services themselves to explore all tantalizing possibilities. Rhapsody's treasure trove of data about all of my listening over the years—and BandPage's artist toolset—make this all possible.
Subscription music streaming services are today's reality. Great for music lovers with the "all-you-can-eat" model and access to 30+ million songs. I have lived this myself for a decade because I listen to music virtually 24/7. But, these oft-maligned services also have the potential to drive expanded engagement in music overall, and expanded revenues to artists by connecting them directly with a deepening passionate fan base (who will happily fork over more money for the promise of deeper access to, and engagement with, the artists they love).
As I said then (in my Billboard article), I'll say it again now. I am an optimist about artist monetization possibilities in our brave new digital world. Pessimism breeds only resentment of changing times and suffocates those possibilities . . .