Unless you're Taylor Swift, most modern musicians have their music available on streaming services. It's a move that makes sense as most consumers seem to be using the streaming model versus the purchase model to listen to music. One artist who made the decision not to participate in streaming is the late Prince.
In 2015, he removed all of his music from streaming services except for struggling service Tidal. He wasn't the only artist to pull music from other services and focus exclusively on Tidal, though he is probably the only one who never went back. While Prince took a decidedly standoffish approach to music streaming, his estate has a very different view. In fact, as of today, Prince's music is officially available on streaming services again.
This move by the estate, which owes a tremendous amount in taxes, will bring back the question of art versus profit. Obviously, Prince believed that the art deserved certain recognition. In fact, he famously sent cease-and-desist letters to websites that featured Prince-inspired personal tattoos or photos. On the other hand, the estate, which owes upwards of $100 million in estate taxes, needs the revenue to be able to pay the estate taxes on what he left when he died.
Taylor Swift has always argued that streaming music was insulting to the artists because of the royalties that are received versus the income received from the sale of an album.
All I can say is that music is changing so quickly, and the landscape of the music industry itself is changing so quickly, that everything new, like Spotify, all feels to me a bit like a grand experiment. And I'm not willing to contribute my life's work to an experiment that I don't feel fairly compensates the writers, producers, artists, and creators of this music. And I just don't agree with perpetuating the perception that music has no value and should be free.
Well, while that's not exactly an art versus profit argument, it does play in that same arena. While, many fans have asked why the estate is making these types of deals which Prince would not have agreed to, it will be interesting to see if fans will still stream his music.