One of the trends that appears to be catching on recently is limiting what music is streamable online.
Prince got this movement started in my opinion with his pretty authoritarian crackdown on any of his music being on sites like YouTube and Spotify. His reason was that he wanted people to either buy his music or listen to him live and I can certainly respect that opinion, however I think it does far more harm than it does good.
Whenever I hear a song that I like, I will pretty much always try and find it and see if I want to buy it. For me it’s either the whole song or nothing at all, none of that preview rubbish. The other day I found “The Hand Clapping song by The Meters” from a google phone advert and I’ve now got it on my library to listen to whenever, a prime example of hearing something and getting it soon after.
This self-imposed embargo on already released music stifles any building of a fan-base because it’s locked behind a pay wall. In our age of information, something unavailable will be ignored pretty much immediately and any purchases made to get the music won’t make up for the lost revenue from those who were turned away.
I’ll admit that full tracks being available online will lead to piracy and it’s definitely a problem. However, even these losses aren’t anywhere near the losses made if all the music is locked behind a paywall. Small artists will suffer most with doing this and it makes me sad to see some of them doing this because it will just kill their careers and new music should be loved not locked away.
I have no idea if this trend will change over time, perhaps more musicians being negatively affected by this will encourage others to take the risk of piracy and let more people listen to their music.