The Dark Side of Streaming Your Music ★ Acoustic Tuesday 214

Streaming music has a lot of benefits. But it can also have some downsides. In this video, I explain the five main disadvantages to streaming music and show you how to avoid them.

Music streaming, whether it’s through Spotify or Youtube, has to be one of the greatest expansions in music consumption. For a few bucks a month, you have access to millions of songs. You have seemingly infinite choices.

But there are plenty of negatives to this easy consumption of music. Do you remember the days where you had to go to a music store, search for an album, purchase the album, and invest time into making that album worth it?

With streaming, you lose all of the process and ritual that made the discovery of new music magical. We’ve lost the cultural touchstone of sharing music through word of mouth recommendations. Instead, we’re fed recommendations by an algorithm — which is incredibly helpful at times, but lacks a human touch.

There are plenty of reasons to like streaming music, but there is a dark side to all the convenience that streaming music provides. This episodes seeks to address some of those issues.

In addition to talking about the dark side of music streaming, you’ll get a big update from @Heartbreaker Guitars on everything from new models to supply chain explanations.

Featured in this episode…

  • Heartbreaker Guitars
  • Furch Guitars
  • Molly Tuttle
  • Chicago Music Exchange
  • Billy Strings

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  1. Nice piece… One word: Analog
    digital world is great for researching. But after that you go looking for the music at your local “Record Store”. …If it’s at all possible these days.

  2. Hey, Tony great show as usual! I can agree with your list. I have recently gotten turned back on to vinyl after several years. But I think the best thing about streaming services is the ability to listen to all kinds of music and it helps me be a little more selective on some purchases. Let’s be honest we all have been disappointed from time to time. Cheers !!!

  3. Had a busy holiday week visiting family so just got to enjoy the AcousticTuesday on a Sunday afternoon. In the countdown your #2 brought back memories of anticipating various songwriters and bands releasing new albums when I was in my teens and twenties. Groups like the Moody Blues particularly made each new LP album as you say “magical” to not only listen to but immerse oneself by holding the album cover itself and lyric sheet. It was a sad day when cassettes and then CDs displaced vinyl as the widely available sound method. Even the Moodies enter those formats with their “Keys to the Kingdom” without the distribution on vinyl. Today if the vinyl format is available I buy it! Just bought a John Prine LP that way and favor the sound of the stylus riding the grooves on both sides of the record over any digital alternative. Thank you Tony for another interesting and creative show.

  4. Another great show Tony. Sorry for the long response – I have a lot to say.
    Thanksgiving week here in the US and I am so thankful for TAC and the community around it.
    My headline story might be “Terry Hits 90 Day Challenge Goal and Releases His First EP Walking In The Rain”. But the real story is rooted in TAC.

    2019 we lose my Mother in Law. Six weeks later we lose my Mom.
    2020 Covid is raging and lock downs and isolation continue. I join TAC in January to get something of a routine and improve my rudimentary guitar skills. In March we start Hospice care for my Dad. One night during my night shift I wrote a song about him while he slept. He passed away in May almost one year to the day of my Mom passing.

    I kept practicing and writing. One song, and then another. I started attending the Virtual Open Mics to get over my nerves of playing in front of people. Then got a DAW to help with the VOM’s unaware that it came with music production software. I kept writing and started simple production. Then a TAC member reached and offered to help with production and mastering. I set a 90 goal to actually release the music as terrifying as that was – to put it out there.
    I released it on Bandcamp vs streaming. I also set the price at $0 but any funds contributed are all being donated to environmental conservation nonprofits. Amazing I have $160 to donate in the first 2 weeks – not a lot but I was expecting $0.

    I have over 50 original songs to date and the first EP has 5. They are about love, loss and healing and I thought long and hard about which songs, what order, imagery of the cover (each song also has a cover). My main goal was to record the music – to process all that I was feeling and hopefully that it might speak to others. I got a note from a total stranger who listened to the EP and said “ I lost my best friend this summer from a very aggressive cancer. Your songs express exactly what I am feeling” . That was my Grammy.

    Thank you again for creating this community of Guitar Geeks and uniting us in the essential and magical producing world of music.

    All the best to you and your family.

    PS – I was inspired by your story of the Martin guitar your Dad passed along to you. So I started working with the Martin Team and in August I received my Martin D-41 that I had built in in memory of my Mother in Law, Mom and Dad. I was able to play songs I wrote for them at their celebrations of life which had been delayed due to Covid. I think of them everyday when I hold it.

  5. Hey Tony, so spot on with the list. It’s sad that the youngsters today are so distracted by their devices that they can’t focus long enough to enjoy a full album, let alone go to a record store and put one in their hands. At a recent family event, I asked my cousin’s 15 year old daughter what she liked to listen to and she named some band from the internet that she knew nothing about then played 10 seconds of 2 of their songs and said “that’s their music”. When I asked what type of music she liked, she couldn’t answer. I was quietly heartbroken. When I was her age, I could name the guy who produced the album, the session musicians and background vocalists, all from reading the liner notes. And yes album art was big for me. I still have my Pink Floyd posters that came with the albums. Remember the Yessongs posters? You might be too young. On the plus side of streaming, I found a genre that blew me away … Opera Metal. Didn’t even know it existed. I love opera and I love metal and here they were together, like the Reese’s peanut butter cup! The best. Thanks Tony. Guitar geeks unite.

  6. And now for some upsides to streaming. First, it brings an audience to artists who for some reason aren’t quit ready to be signed, but are still worth listening to. Second, Pandora. My playlists are seeded by music I’ve already heard, but by indicating my likes and dislikes it makes suggestions that are uncannily good. Yes, the joy of discovery by listening to the radio, sharing with friends, and going to clubs is gone, but . . . radio is so Balkanized and my affinity group is a low priority, and the coronavirus has temporarily put the kibosh on the in-person routes. What’s even more special about Pandora is their “why am I hearing this?” link. It has my preferences pretty well pegged–among them a mix of acoustic and amplified instruments, swingy rhythms, and breathy female vocals.

  7. Hi, Tony! I agree so much with your “Top 5 Reasons” regarding streaming music – especially in the order you placed them in.
    Unfortunately, I don’t know of any brick and mortar music stores within driving distance that don’t only carry thrift store albums, cassettes, or CD’s. No more “new” album releases to be had unless you visit the artist’s website. I’m still not convinced that these artists (even through purchases on their websites) are receiving anywhere near the amount of compensation they’re due unless, of course, they’re an enormous headliner and “celebrity/social influencer” via social media.
    I read an interesting interview recently with David Crosby, and aside from his personal money management issues, has been releasing album after album these last few years just to keep his house from foreclosure. It’s rather sad when you hear a guy talk about selling his collection of D-45’s to finance his personal finances. And, I’m only 42, but that late ‘60’s acoustic sound is certainly one of my favs. But, I digress.
    I always look forward to watching your Tuesday show, and am not a TAC Member because I’m permanently disabled and on an extremely tight income (no Spotify or Apple Music…or cable TV for me). However, I’ve been content with the 9+ years I’ve needed to relearn the guitar playing in a reclined position due to my illness. It places a lot into perspective, and I’m grateful for your free Tuesday shows. I’ve watched them all!

  8. Really share your nostalgia and agree wholeheartedly with your assessment.
    However, I think you missed one of the really big losses…and that is to be able to give the gift of an album or book to your friends and family, We can still do it…but the recipients are for the most part not that likely to really appreciate it.. (A lot of them don’t have a record or CD player. and hauling books around is too much of a hassle.

    The internet has taken away so many of the things that we used to cherish such as a hand-written letter or a phone call instead of a text….
    Regarding Spotify…you may have heard that Adele apparently convinced them to now play songs in the order the artist intended!
    Nice job on this one…I really related to it.

  9. Hea Tony, great subject. I believe for me at my age there is no better way to enjoy music then to hold an album, an 8 track or even a cassette in your hand and play them on your stereo system that you love and to read the liner notes and the artwork and the skips and scratches and the stains and nicks on the covers. All bringing back old times, i still have my first record my mother bought me, Meet the Beatles. And i have carried around my over 2000 records from N.Y. to FL. and places in between. So streaming would not be for me. But i believe and i am sure everyone will find with age that everything in this super fast paced world we all start to loose a lot of things. Thing like family sitting, talking and dancing together, being more warm and friendly to others, caring and all hanging out and playing albums together. I have been around A.T. since eps.1, a T.A.C. member, and in Fretboard wizard, And A.T. for me is even missing alot of skips & scratches that i miss. Like the warm homey feeling of sitting with friends in thier living room, Noah, Levi, the dart board, mailbag, reading comments, length of show. But after all this said i likely wont miss a show. Your friend Guy B. Champa Bay FL.

  10. The #1 benefit of streaming on Spotify is it’s like the radio, but interactive with different playlists you can “like” and modify/add to, and in a medium size town, there’s either not much selection or they always play the same stuff. I’ve discovered a big number of bands both from North America and the rest of the world that the record store either never carries or maybe not even heard of. There has been a few times I’ve liked a new band enough that I invested in tracking down and buying the album online. Also the plus of pre-listening knowing the album is worth it to me to invest in buying it, I think we’ve all experienced the pain of buying an album that ends up being… um… lets just say, not the greatest 🙂 . We only have one record store in town and it’s almost exclusively vinyl, and some CD’s, they sell mostly used and I’m guessing maybe 10% new, I like to go there every 2-3 weekends and see what they have new or new to me. I’m slowly building my Talking Heads collection, and last weekend I bought a new(or at least never opened) David Bowie “Space Oddity”, it’s the one with his portrait on the front and back of the vinyl.
    I’m picky with vinyl, if it’s an album that would lend itself to that format, and I like the album enough then I buy it, so something like Punk, metal, etc., don’t get me wrong, I love that music, but let’s be honest, alot of it doesn’t have intricate and subtle things you’d miss, like for example Pink Floyd or Talking Heads does, so I likely wouldn’t unless it has great artwork on it. I’m still on the hunt for “The Wall”, but any pressing I find starts at about $70-$80, and I still have the CD, so I don’t know if it has anything I’d notice other than nostalgia of the vinyl.

  11. Personally I don’t use a streaming music service. I have my entire music library on my phone which I play through my home or car stereo. I also carry cd’s so I can take the artist’s laid out journey you speak of. When new artists are presented you can always use iTunes to preview and buy the song or the whole journey.

  12. What I like about streaming is the ability to listen to new music when I hear about it. When Tony introduced us to Nick Drake, Mississippi John Hurt and Tony Rice through Acoustic Tuesday or the daily challenges I could go listen that evening. I agree on the downside of not compensating the artists fairly. I would pay more for the streaming service if the $$ went to the actual artists. I also miss album art. Tony’s other negatives about streaming are valid but don’t really irritate me that much. Its supporting the actual musicians that is the biggest deal for me.

  13. Tony, I’m 62yo newish guitar player. You’re spot on with your album music/cover/purchase assessment. It was a ‘risk’ buying an album from a band without knowing what was on it. I wish I had asked the shop owner for advice more often. Most came word of mouth from friends or just going with a band and all their music

  14. Always a great hour, Thanks. The album covers that have disappeared: it also told me of the unsung heroes that contributed to the production of the album-the producers, engineers, other musicians and sometimes a background story. I stream but it seems I still go for the classics (I have 1100 albums in my collection dating back to 1958-Cuuby Checker, The Twist lol) and grab a tune here and there of interest or by input from my community of musicians. I am 67 and have been playing since 1964, and teaching beginners since 1971. There have been many changes in the way music and information are exchanged, but live is still where it gets the real mojo!