ECM Releases Entire Catalog to Online Streaming Services Like Spotify and Google Play
For years, fans have been begging for ECM's catalog on major streaming services like Spotify and Google Play. Until today, ECM has refused to release their albums online. Instead, consumers had to hand-select each gem and order a physical copy (the old-fashioned way). This of course was a strategic business decision for ECM. However, ECM management has finally given in. With this move, the coffin of CD sales has been eternally nailed shut. ECM was perhaps the largest jazz label holding out against the online streaming industry - and it's no wonder.
With compensation for playbacks being measured in mere fractions of a penny, there is little money to be made by streaming online. Instead, artists today can no longer rely on record sales for revenue. The model has shifted to 'release for free' and then make your money on tour. This of course has created an overwhelmingly large marketplace for music junkies online - there seems to be an endless supply of amazing music to find. Music production costs are also at an all-time low: Large facilities with hundreds of thousands of dollars of gear are being beaten by home studios with just a few thousand dollars of equipment. This low-barrier-of-entry has led to an explosion of free music being available online through Youtube, Soundcloud, Spotify , and countless other services. However, there is no arguing that what ECM's artists bring to the table is truly unique. Very few artists today match the level of musicianship of the hand-selected masters that ECM has supported through the years.
A gifted sax player friend mine posted in excitement "Now, I can listen through all the albums which would have been my earliest influences, if I could have afforded $30 CDs when I was in college." This really sums up the pros and cons of ECM's decision. Lowering the price (basically free) will allow virtually anybody to enjoy the music, and to learn from it. However, I doubt that ECM is happy with the decision, it seems like it was forced upon them. In their press release, ECM states:
"In recent years, ECM and the musicians have had to face unauthorized streaming of recordings via video sharing websites, plus piracy, bootlegs, and a proliferation of illegal download sites. It was important to make the catalogue accessible within a framework where copyrights are respected."
Why else would they have held out for all these years, except that it was the best thing do to for their company and the musicians?
Although I am excited to browse this deeply signifiant catalog, there is a lot of debate about the pros and cons of today's music industry.