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The Equitable Future of Music Streaming: A Candid Conversation
In a thought-provoking discussion, music industry veterans unpacked the complex landscape of music streaming, its impact on artists, and the pursuit of an equitable future.
TOKiMONSTA, an electronic music dynamo, co-founded the streaming platform Sonu to champion fair artist compensation, revolutionizing how music is streamed and valued. With over 8 million tracks, Sonu merges innovation with equity, reflecting TOKiMONSTA's vision for a just music ecosystem.

Just Blaze, a hip-hop production legend, has sculpted the soundtracks for icons like Jay-Z and Beyoncé. His work spans across genres and mediums, including video games, highlighting his diverse talents. Together, their efforts spotlight the need for industry evolution, advocating for a balance between streaming accessibility and ensuring artists are adequately rewarded for their creations.
The conversation kicked off by exploring how music streaming emerged as a response to piracy during the Napster era, offering digital distribution and alternatives to iTunes.

However, the shift towards streaming has brought its own set of challenges.
"When we think about streaming, what are things that you really like about it?" asked the moderator.
Just Blaze, a legendary producer who has worked with Jay-Z and Cam'ron, appreciated the instant access and ability to share his music with a new audience. "That record [Higher with Baauer] literally changed my life," he reflected.

Yet, the discussion soon turned to the contentious issue of artist compensation. With major streaming platforms keeping a significant portion of the revenue, many artists struggle to earn a sustainable income from streams alone.

"If my favorite artists can't support themselves, they'll never make the music I love again," the moderator lamented.
The conversation delved into potential solutions, such as alternative revenue models, direct fan support, and leveraging the artist-fan connection. Just Blaze co-founded Sonu, a streaming platform that rewards artists based on their share of total streams, aiming to create a more equitable system.

The rise of AI music generation also sparked debate. While recognizing its creative potential, there were concerns about it further flooding an already saturated market.

"AI is great in the right hands, but very dangerous in the wrong hands," Just Blaze cautioned.

Another challenge explored was the TikTok-driven trend of creating music primarily to "beat the algorithm" and go viral. While acknowledging the desire for exposure, the panelists questioned the impact on creativity and longevity.
As the discussion progressed, the complexities of streaming economics, industry politics, and the changing roles of tastemakers and curators emerged. The moderator emphasized the need for a balanced approach, where streaming coexists with other revenue streams and artist-fan connections.

Ultimately, the conversation highlighted the urgency for industry stakeholders to collaborate and innovate, finding solutions that preserve the joys of music discovery while ensuring fair compensation for artists.
As Just Blaze aptly stated, "Ultimately, as long as we continue to let it happen, it's going to happen."

The equitable future of music streaming remains an ongoing pursuit, but this candid dialogue amongst industry insiders offered valuable insights and a rallying call for change.

Watch the video here >>
Creating an Equitable Future for Artists in Streaming | SXSW 2024
Join producer TOKiMONSTA and Just Blaze for a candid conversation about the future of streaming -- on where artists capture more of the value that they generate with their work
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