Music Streaming: A Help or Hindrance?

In recent years, streaming has become the new trend in discovering new music.

With the decline in record sales and increase in online/on-demand, it is safe to say that it has been a disruptive entity within the music industry.

And now with streaming impacting chart positions, record “sales,” and RIAA certifications, it raises the question of whether its inclusion is an accurate representation of the public’s perception and reception of the material. Has obtaining a #1 single lost its initial notoriety?

We weigh up after the jump…

Is it still impressive to achieve a #1 single in today’s market? Absolutely. But one must take into consideration what means are used to top Billboard’s charts today. Let’s think about it in this way. Mariah Carey, the Hot 100’s reigning queen with 18 #1 singles, obtained all of her chart toppers by sales, which arguably makes sense. If more people are purchasing her track than any other song, then she deserves the #1 spot. But today, we see song streams and video views helping singles and albums to the top of the charts; thus, making it much easier than relying strictly on sales.


So in essence, viral videos can help catapult a song to the pole position though it may be outsold by another record. This streaming inclusion makes it easier to obtain the #1 status for both singles and albums. Another pertinent example is Madonna’s latest album ‘Rebel Heart’ versus the ‘Empire’ season one soundtrack; for, despite Madge selling more physical units, it charted behind the ‘Empire’ effort due to its increase in streams.

Madonna (1)

Because one chooses to listen to a song online, should that be considered in chart placement? If a listener hears a track and decides that it is terrible, they have have essentially (and arguably indadvertedly) helped that track gain a higher ranking, despite dismay towards the song itself. In today’s standard, ‘Friday,’ by Rebecca Black could have been the #1 track. Let that sink in.

Conversely, this implementation does give the listener a higher degree of control in an artist’s success; especially for younger demographics who may not have the ability to purchase music as readily as they would like, but listen to artists on repeat. Consumers may be more enticed to sign up for Spotify, Tidal, or Apple Music’s monthly subscription and have unlimited music selection, opposed to purchasing a single track or album. This does provide the artist a greater benefit than just minor monetary compensation from streaming.


Maybe it would be beneficial to decrease the weight of which streaming counts towards chart positions and sales or include ticket sales. For example, tour dates within a year of the album release can count toward an album’s overall sales. Additionally streams from cover songs on YouTube could also go into consideration.. just some ideas.

Has streaming watered down the industry? Is obtaining that coveted top spot spot not what it used to be? Does music streaming benefit the artist, or is this simply a trend that the music industry is capitalizing on? You tell us…

Your thoughts?

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  1. truthtea November 24, 2015

    Streaming is why most artists sales have declined over the years! Whoever decided to include streaming really messed it all up because those aren’t honest sales! It’s just another shady tactic to boost ones ego rather than make them do it the right way.

    • MsYonce November 24, 2015

      I agree

  2. Chaelin Lee (p.k.a – CL) is coming | 재 이현 김 November 24, 2015

    Streaming should only be used for record companies to see how many people are interested, ie: market research.
    I also thin stream should only only made available, 2months after the release.

  3. @JanetCIARA_ November 24, 2015

    Streaming sucks, But it was either that or free music downloads which is where the generation was headed.
    They had to find out some way to profit from their music being heard and listened to in this internet age.

  4. @JanetCIARA_ November 24, 2015

    Like if you remember Limewire?????!

  5. King Stephy November 24, 2015

    Adding streams & free youtube views to overall sales is wrong. That’s cheating on so many levels. Adele’s success is so honest tho. Her sales are massive with or without streaming

    • LB November 24, 2015

      The world is an ever evolving place. Don’t be afraid of change.

    • suckingyoutonight November 24, 2015

      I think factoring in vevo views is smart they need to lock every artist vevo Instagram & twitter & if you wanna see any of that s*** you gotta buy or pre order they album

  6. LB November 24, 2015

    I love streaming, it has been a benefit for me.
    I have listened to more music this year than I ever have when I used to buy from iTunes, now my spotify premium gives me access to literally hundreds of millions of songs.
    Why would anyone hate it? It levels the playing field and is a huge benefit to the music consumer.

    • suckingyoutonight November 24, 2015

      But that’s hurting sales

  7. FAKE SONGWRITING CREDITS November 24, 2015

    But beyonce is the king, the gratest, she should sell regardles, even the hive had the nerve to say bayonce was better vocalist tha Mariah, better dancer than Janet, the whole package, but why the people can’t see that and buy her albums, is it all Marketing? beyonce will never touch Adele, Mariah 2 diamond albums in a row, whatever she accomplish from now on will be nothing compared to Adele,the Sooner you realize it The Better.

    • Arx November 24, 2015

      OK, we get it! U hate Beyonce! Stop copying and pasting the same comment on every post! Its annoying as…

    • Chile, leave my weave at the door and don’t steal it like those broke ass barb stans November 25, 2015

      Mariah has 3 diamond albums, but J. Lo has NONE. LOL! Now I see why Mariah doesn’t know her.

  8. sour grape November 24, 2015

    who can seriously discuss that here? what you wanna chart. what’s the focus?
    money and no money? or maybe just popularity? the difference when streaming. now… count what?
    f*ck the charts.

  9. LB November 24, 2015

    TGJ staff, Billboard tracks what people are listening to, not sales, sales is Nielsen’s job, distribution is RIAAs job.
    Tell me what is so wrong with having a number one single through streaming if it is what people are listening to?
    Basing chart positions on sales is highly inaccurate, I can buy a CD, doesn’t mean I’ll listen to it, which is what Billboard is trying to track.
    Streaming is more accurate because it actually tracks what people are listening to, more accurately than sales.

  10. Weezy Tha Goat November 24, 2015

    Streaming is a hinderance for the Record Labels but a help for music fans. But I feel like if a person really supports their favorite artist they will buy the music regardless.

  11. B**** I Can’t Even Spell Welfare November 24, 2015

    Adele is an anomaly, let’s put her to the side. Right behind her is Taylor.

    Besides those two, 2-3 million actual sales of an album WW is considered a VERY successful album in this sales climate.

    I have bought a few physical releases this year but most of them have been on vinyl. I honestly don’t think I’ll ever buy another CD again after this year. I only bought 4 CDs this year (Janet, Lalah Hathaway, Lizz Wright, and Ka’s Days With Dr. Yen Lo).

    Streaming is the future & because of this fact, Billboard has to continue to tinker with its formula to ensure accurate chart representation. But, without a doubt, streaming must be factored into the charts because it measures what people are actually listening to and not what radio, for example, are cramming down our throats which is factored into chart positions as well. And remember most of this cramming has to do with payola. Is that accurate?

    If your name is not Adele Adkins, you will never approach Shania Twain “Come On Over” WW sales figures. Those days are over & they will never return. So, there must be another way to record what music people are consuming.

  12. No favs, just here for the music November 24, 2015

    I love streaming because you get to preview a song/album before purchase.

    I don’t like how it counts as ‘sales’ though. That’s just silly

    • Faf November 24, 2015

      But they’re ripping and uploading it so it’s not really Helping the artists and tidal is like “help put more money in our pockets” yet hive is mad at Taylor for wanting the same

  13. sour grape November 24, 2015

    btw… on that “penny vs. dollar” thing. it’s still money. or not? ofc a dollar is nicer. or just better. how many months a single gotta run on a person’s stream to get there tho. dunno how you calculate that with potentionally a ton of tracks on a monthly sub. ofc it works if you got nothing new in the sub. that is so bogus and broken. f*ck the math. i don’t use it. x)

  14. King Mark111 /.\ November 24, 2015

    What Adele and Taylor showed was is that people DO go out and BUY albums. People just aren’t feeling these artist of today. Not just those two, Beyonce, Rihanna, J.Cole, Drake and so many others sell well. People are either into you or not. As for streaming, it’s just so simple to have spotify (I pay for mine) then to have 30GB of music. I listen to my collection without taking up space on my phone or HDD and I get to listen to older music that I never heard and missed out on or try out new music to see if I like it or not. I even venture off to other genres just to try it. I would NEVER take that kind of a chance BUYING albums. It’s a new age, get in, fit in or get out.

    • B**** I Can’t Even Spell Welfare November 24, 2015

      “As for streaming, it’s just so simple to have spotify (I pay for mine) then to have 30GB of music. I listen to my collection without taking up space on my phone or HDD and I get to listen to older music that I never heard and missed out on or try out new music to see if I like it or not.”

      This is it for me. The music collection that I’ve amassed over the years has, literally, become unmanageable. Streaming has allowed to me centralize my music without taking up the physical space. Most importantly, I can stream that new Anna Von Hausswolff album without worrying about buyer’s remorse.

      • King Mark111 /.\ November 24, 2015

        I bought so many BAD albums in my day because the first single was a hit. These labels used to play us a lil over 10 years ago. Back then you HAD to buy a album/soundtrack if you wanted just ONE song. So I don’t feel sorry for these labels, they took enough from us and the artist for DEACDES! lol

    • @King Mark 111 November 26, 2015

      That’s because Taylor and Adele don’t have their music available to stream. Janet does, but she can easily take it off because she owns most of her publishings. She gets paid for streams whereas most artists really don’t.

  15. AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig November 24, 2015

    Gayvid is an actual assh0le still seething over a comment I left weeks ago, and angry because I wouldn’t accept his apology from his 17 troll accounts (which have mysteriously disappeared since that post). TGJ lost all its cred, when its own bloggers started creating fake names to drum up hits. There was no server upgrade, the truth is that there is zero cash in TGJ’s pockets.

    • Chile, leave my weave at the door and don’t steal it like those broke ass barb stans November 25, 2015

      Sis, what happened with David. Do spill the tea. I need it right now because my life is too drama free right now.

      • AnnaliseKeatingsNewWig November 25, 2015

        So Gayvid has been low-key shading Beyonce for the longest, and he gets upset when I check him for it. A couple of weeks ago I clocked him, and he created 20 troll names just to @ me (mind you, none of the users have ever commented again after that post). He’s an insecure tw*nk, and he loves it when people pay him compliments but he can’t accept simple critique
        The tea is David thinks I know him personally, because I know that Rita and him used to go to school together. That’s bull, because we all figured out that they were pals ages ago, since Rita gets so much exposure on this site for doing nothing. Interestingly, one of my friends actually went to the same school as Rita (it’s a popular theatre school in London and not hard to get into), and apparently she was an outcast. Now David is paranoid, and deletes everything I say on his posts (unfortunately he doesn’t have the authorisation to do it on all posts) KIIIIIIIIIIII! I’ma make his life a misery!

  16. inquisitive grape November 24, 2015

    I understand Billboard changing its standards because digital music and streaming content have certainly changed the way many of us listen to music. That being said, I think that streaming should only count for charts centered around airplay. Listening to an entire album is simply not the same as purchasing whether it be a physical copy or completing the album on iTunes.

  17. Theman November 25, 2015

    Streaming has it’s advantages & disadvantages. Streaming should count as far as streaming, not pure sales. The issue with the music industry is the quality of music and the lack of real talent/artistry in the industry & radio.. It sux for the most part. Promote great music and artists. Adele is a superb artist & people love her for that. You can stream music, but, if the album is amazing you’ll get it. You can support what you enjoy.. Also, they should lower the price of albums.

  18. Casual-T November 25, 2015

    1. Streaming is a zero-sum proposition — neither a help nor a hindrance to the music industry. Many up-and-coming and/or independent artists have gained popularity through streaming in a way that would have either been impossible or much harder than before. Record label profits have decreased in some ways, but that has been offset in other ways. Keep in mind that long before streaming and file-sharing, people would simply tape songs from the radio. There was always a way to get free music. Also, the sales universe for a single is literally double what it was 20 years ago. The biggest selling singles of today might sell in the 7-9 million range, double-to-triple what was possible in the 90s. Oh, and labels no longer have to deal with chargebacks/returns for singles.
    2. A #1 single is still the ultimate achievement for an artist.
    3. Streaming should be counted for the singles charts, which are charts which measure song POPULARITY. Streaming should not be counted for albums, b/c it distorts the data we’re looking to see — how many people actually bought a particular album as an album.

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