Vinyl and Streaming: A David and Goliath Story and the Effect on Working Musicians

by Aaron Kerper about a year ago in vinyl

Could the vinyl resurgence break down streaming stats?

Vinyl and Streaming: A David and Goliath Story and the Effect on Working Musicians

Vinyl Records are back and probably the most popular physical media around right now which is insane. Myself, I’ve been collecting for about 4 years give or take, but what I find most interesting is that more and more of my peers are getting into it and that the market itself is rising. People are starting to find the appeal of physical connection to music again and with that comes a change in the music scene in general. However, is this much-need comeback ready to take on the mass-market of music streaming like many enthusiasts say? Is streaming the true medium for the industry?


Music streaming has been a thing for quite a while, growing large really since the internet became a basic household necessity. YouTube, Yahoo!, and probably the most important piece to the history of music streaming, Napster. Napster was a website that launched in 1999, during the prime years of the internet explosion, and it offered people to download free MP3s of their favorite songs from an archive fueled solely by the people. However, if you’ve heard about Napster, chances are you’ve also heard “Metallica” in the same statement.

Lars Ulrich Testifying against napster

Metallica ultimately was the reason Napster was shut down in 2002. They started a court case because of the websites exploitation of Copyright infringement and Racketeering. Flashforward to 2018, where Spotify has around 83 million premium subscribers and has become the most used music streaming service. Needless to say, a lot of people are streaming, but how much different is it compared to 2002? Well now artists are actually getting paid to stream, but only if your idea of “getting paid” is $0.006 per stream. You think, “Well that must add up overtime,” and sure it probably does, but to who?

Kanye has about 27 million monthly listeners. If each of these listeners streamed only one song per month, he’d get around $162,000 dollars a month. That’s before considering his record label, but the thing is, Kanye owns his own record label. Even with that you have to consider the charges to make an album and that can really be any price, in the pop music area, maybe between 150k to 1 million, but again if you’re making 162,000 dollars a month at the absolute very least who cares, right? You should be able to live off of streams? No. Well, if you’re not famous, No. However, if you use Bandcamp, avoid a lot of business stuff with labels, and you get yourself out there then yeah you can definitely live off your music! Bandcamp is probably the best way to do this because there’s no real middle-man and you can just make music and be free. However, there’s something else you can do to tap into a whole different side of the modern-day music market.

Vinyl and Paying for Music

Pressing your album to vinyl can actually be a pretty cool way to grow your market and more people will buy it just to have a physical copy of it. With the resurgence of vinyl, people can feel the emotional attachment to an album from owning it and having all the music and wonder actually in your hands. Purchasing records is one of the best ways to support the artist making it and also probably the best method to appreciate music the most. However, even buying digital albums on Bandcamp is a lot better than streaming it on Spotify. Times are a lot different than they were back in the day; being a musician means that you’ll get no extra funding except for what you get from your own ambitions. Lots of musicians now use touring to get by and also selling merchandise. I feel as though artists should be able to at least survive a little bit just from giving the world their art alone, however that isn't the case and it probably won't happen, but just actually buying their albums supports them a great deal. If you wanna support your favorite artists, actually buy their stuff, and if you wanna support your artist as well as yourself, buy vinyl.


Although it really sounds like it, I’m not completely dissing streaming, because it is a great tool to actually discover artists and yes it’s a lot easier than buying an album. However, this comes down to whether or not you’re a responsible listener. I feel like everyone is sucked into the hole that is streaming and ease of use, but it can be okay in moderation. Stream music when you’re going to work, or school, stream waiting for the bus, whatever, but when you’re at home, try to sit down with a record on and enjoy the music. You’ll find there’s a lot you don’t notice when just having it play in the background and your favorite musicians will appreciate it a lot; plus you’ll help them create more art.

Aaron Kerper
Aaron Kerper
Read next: Jay Z: From Worst to Best
Aaron Kerper

Musician and Listener

See all posts by Aaron Kerper