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The Sound of Music

Streaming music services like Spotify and Pandora are rapidly changing the music industry. Physical formats like CDs are becoming obsolete, and radio is becoming digital.

Listeners use platforms like iTunes, Pandora and Spotify to listen to music more than ever, but they get a different form of interaction with the music as a result.

“We’re in a new age now,” DASH radio DJ Dean Perez said, “where streaming is more accessible, it’s easier, and you no longer have to depend on traditional AM [radio], where people are providing a playlist for you. [Before streaming], you had no choice but to turn on the radio and listen to whatever they gave you…Now everyone is starting to become their own DJ.”

“The idea that music can always be available — any song we want, whenever we want it — [that] kind of changes the equation,” CSUN Journalism Professor Scott Brown said. “You used to wait for a physical CD to come out, and [you knew] that would be your only opportunity to partake of an artist.”

The ready availability of music provided by streaming services changes consumers’ relationship with music.

“Now everything is available all the time,” Brown said. “And it makes us perhaps a little more passive. Back then you had to search it out, and when you found it, it became so much more important to you, whereas now everything is available. It makes our relationship with the songs in our lives really different.”

“I remember being eight years old and listening to Power 106,” Perez said. “And they’d drop a new song and the only time they’d drop it would be at 4 pm, and after the song was over the only way to hear it again was to tune in tomorrow, so you had to wait. And that made it exciting. It made you appreciate the song a lot more, whereas now everything is [available] on demand.”

The new streaming services also have an impact on music artists.

“It’s so difficult for artists now, “Perez said,  “and that’s why most of their income is coming from touring. There are so many independent artists who are making it nowadays without being attached to a label, which amazes me… All you need is good marketing and streaming services, and you can get discovered.”

The three ways artists used to make money were through record sales, live performances and merchandising. Now it’s through live performances, third-party sponsorships, merchandising, publishing, and then through record sales, which are the smallest revenue source, Brown said.

Perez said radio stations have had to make adjustments to give their audience more diverse music, but some listeners still want to hear the personal choices of a radio personality. “There is a certain feeling that you get from radio, because you can put a playlist on [with a streaming service], but just the action, the timing, the emotion you feel when someone is energetic, and delivering something for you …. that experience affects you.”

As CD sales drop, Brown said consumers are looking at purchasing CDs differently. “Instead of saying, ‘I am buying music’, it ought to be, ‘I am supporting the artist’.”

Furthermore, old-fashioned vinyl records are making a bit of a comeback among collectors.

“So much of streamed music is intangible,” Brown said. “When you buy a physical object, there is a tangibility, and also sound and quality.”


Moderator: James Lindsay

Anchor: Teresa Barrientos

Producers: Stephanie Lopez and Sara Vong

Reporters: Teresa Barrientos, James Lindsay, Stephanie Lopez, Veronica Perez and Sara Vong

Social Media Editors: Stephanie Lopez and Sara Vong


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