According to the RIAA (Recording Industry Association of America), music streaming services accounted for nearly 80% of all recorded music revenues in 2019. 
The music industry has a love/hate relationship with technology: plain and simple. It’s biggest problem? Music piracy. With the advancement of technology, music piracy has evolved from copying cassette tapes to downloading free mp3 files with a push of a button. According to the Institute for Policy Innovation (IPI), the U.S. economy loses $12.5 billion in total output annually as a consequence of music theft . Napster was the first glimpse of the demand people had for a digital catalog of music at a fraction of a price. And when Napster was forced to shut down, LimeWire followed…then YouTubetoMP3…and so on…and so on…
The music business struggled with the lack of physical sales accounted for. A solution to this issue became music streaming services. With a monthly subscription, users are able to obtain an entire catalogue of high-resolution music/podcasts from all over the world, along with accessing concert information, merchandise, and even music videos.
As streaming services began to become a primary revenue for music sales, the industry became vulnerable to significant consolidation in terms of revenue. Spotify, Apple Music, and Tidal are considered the top 3 streaming services. Major labels such as Warner Music Group, Sony Music Entertainment, and Universal Music Group each hold a stake in Spotify – 5.7% for Sony, and an estimated 4% for the other two. 
Although a singular stream on Spotify equates to just $0.00437 (less than half a penny) – the implementation of music streaming services provided a new horizon in how music fans consume and listen to music, and how labels are able to “bounce back” from the decline of CD sales . Indie artists began to face a new wave of music discovery with streaming service AI-algorithms; reaching new markets through curated playlists. Labels on the other hand, began to depend on their stake percentages to dictate new releases and content with the popular music services to ensure their consumer reach.
However, the 2020 pandemic has affected the music industry tremendously in terms of income. For the live sector, venues (big and small) around the states have closed, live event staff and touring musicians have lost their jobs, and for developing artists: their additional revenue and market reach from touring has been placed on a halt. Streaming revenue alone is not sustainable for our independent and rising musicians.
To generate a single dollar on Spotify, a song must be streamed 229 times. And in order to receive the American monthly minimum wage of $1,472, a song must be streamed 336,842 times .
This past October the Union of Musicians and Allied Workers (UMAW) formed a “Justice at Spotify” petition in response to the streaming giant amidst COVID. With the lack of financial support across the music industry pie, all musicians are forced to depend on streaming revenue as their primary source of income. Over 10,000 artists signed, demanding a penny-per-stream base rate, full financial transparency for musicians, and ending legal battles with impoverished artists .
Ultimately, music streaming platforms provided its stakeholders with convenience, but still fails to fulfill royalty payments for major and developing artists. As an innovation, it single-handedly disrupted the music industry, but now unfortunately – the music industry is practically dependent on it.
 “RIAA Releases 2019 Year-End Music Industry Revenue Report.” RIAA, www.riaa.com/reports/riaa-releases-2019-year-end-music-industry-revenue-report/.
 “The True Cost of Sound Recording Piracy to the U.S. Economy: IPI.” RIAA, www.riaa.com/reports/the-true-cost-of-sound-recording-piracy-to-the-u-s-economy/.
 Staff, Variety. “Spotify: At Day’s Close, What Are the Major Labels’ Shares Worth? A Lot …” Variety, Variety, 3 Apr. 2018, variety.com/2018/biz/news/spotify-at-days-close-what-are-sony-warner-and-universals-shares-worth-a-lot-1202743146/.
 “What Is the Pay Rate for Spotify Streams?” Song Trust, help.songtrust.com/knowledge/what-is-the-pay-rate-for-spotify-streams.
 Routley, Nick. “How Many Music Streams Does It Take to Earn a Dollar?” Visual Capitalist, 13 Sept. 2019, www.visualcapitalist.com/how-many-music-streams-to-earn-a-dollar/.
 “Justice At Spotify – Union of Musicians and Allied Workers.” UMAW, www.unionofmusicians.org/justice-at-spotify.