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Old 9th September 2012
Lives for gear
To be clear, I'm not making that tired old argument that people used to have to buy a bunch of filler or anything like that.

It's a pretty basic fact: if streaming took over and sales went away, listeners would essentially be paying different amounts for each album, depending on how many times they listen to it.

So there has to be some kind of baseline for which albums get the old retail amount and which don't. Is it only your favorite few albums that should get the equivalent of the purchase price? I don't think anyone wants that. So rates would have to be figured in such a way that the average album you like would make what they used to make retail. Then your favorite albums would actually be making more. And there would still be a segment of albums that you would have happily bought under a retail model but which will make less money from you under a streaming model.

For example if I look back at my itunes playcounts for my favorite albums of the past decade, they all top out at about 30-35 listens. So to get to $15 from 30 plays of a 12 track album, that would be 4 cents a play. But there are albums that I really like and happily paid $15 for that only got 15 plays. So a 12 track album with 15 plays would need a streaming rate of 8 cents a track to equal the retail price. And there are albums with even fewer plays that I bought because they were a new album by a band I already like for example. If you listen to something only once it costs you about a dollar per track per listen.

So even if the perfect sustainable streaming rate were achieved there are still going to be artists who lose out with a streaming model who would have done ok with sales.