The choice between streaming and downloading music depends on your individual preferences and needs. Each method has its advantages and disadvantages, and what might be better for one person may not be the same for another. Here are some factors to consider:
- Convenience: Streaming allows you to access a vast library of music instantly without the need to download or manage files.
- Variety: You can explore a wide range of songs, albums, and artists from various genres, including new releases and curated playlists.
- Discoverability: Many streaming platforms offer personalized recommendations and playlists based on your listening habits, helping you discover new music easily.
- No Storage Concerns: Since music is not stored on your device, it doesn't take up storage space, making it ideal for devices with limited space.
- Economic Impact: Independent artists and labels make very little money from streaming. If you’re only streaming their music, you’re not showing support to them. However, if you balance streaming with also purchasing physical goods directly from them, then streaming is ok.
- Internet Dependency: Streaming requires a reliable internet connection. If you’re in an area with poor connectivity, or during internet outages, you won't have access to your music.
- Data Usage: Streaming music can consume a significant amount of data, which might be a concern for users with limited data plans.
- Audio Quality: Though some streaming services offer high-quality audio, it might not match the level of audio fidelity available in downloaded files with higher bitrates.
- Platform Dependent Collection: If you put a lot of effort into organizing your favorite music into playlists and collections, you are highly dependent on the platform remaining in business. If any one of the major streaming platforms were to go out of business, all that time and effort you invested would be wiped away. Spotify continues to operate at a financial loss and is highly dependent on continual subscription growth, which has slowed. It’s not unrealistic to think that they could go out of business.
- Economic Impact: Paying for legitimate music downloads from reputable outlets has a bigger impact on the bottom line for independent artists and labels. Although the number is somewhat different depending on each artist and platform, it takes approximately 333 streams to make $1. Whereas, if you purchase a single song download, that’s earning the artist approximately $1 (if they distributed the music independent of a music label). Artists here at blocSonic who distribute through us earn 50% of each stream or sale, so in that case, it’d take about 2 song downloads to earn them $1. However you look at it, downloading music is far superior.
- Offline Access: Once downloaded, you can listen to your music without an internet connection, making it perfect for travel or areas with no internet access.
- Higher Audio Quality: When you download music from high-quality sources, you can have audio files with better bitrates and less compression.
- Ownership: Downloaded music gives you ownership of the files, allowing you to manage and access them even if the music is removed from streaming platforms.
- Storage Concerns: Downloaded music occupies storage space on your device, which may become an issue if you have limited space and a large music collection.
- Managing Files: You need to organize and manage your downloaded music library, which might require some effort, especially as your collection grows (Though, it could be said that this additional effort to organize your collection of music, connects you to that music much more than doing so within a streaming platform).
- Cost: Purchasing individual tracks or albums can add up, although subscription-based services offer more affordable options for downloading. (However, this goes back to the Economic Impact advantage mentioned previously… think about how you much want to show your support… and follow through)
It ultimately comes down to you. Do you prioritize convenience, variety, and discovering music. Maybe streaming is for you. Do you prioritize artist financial support, control and ownership of your collection, then downloading is for you. You could also opt for a hybrid approach, using streaming for the discovery and downloading for financial support of those artists who you love and want them to continue to make music. You could also choose to only stream, but put extra effort into buying physical copies and goods directly from artists who you love.