If you have ever met me personally, chances are I’ve probably popped the question: “What music are you into?” Regardless of the innocence of the question, its importance in the development of my friendships really can’t be understated. Through my years of research in all things socially awkward, I’ve determined it to be the perfect small talk question: everyone has a response, and it helps steer the conversation towards what I really intend to accomplish: Conversion.

“Excuse me sir, could you spare a moment to talk about Spotify?”

See, what my newfound friends don’t know is that I am actually a religious fanatic of the most unusual breed. I don’t preach Buddha or Jesus, but I wear my affection towards low-cost music streaming services on my sleeve. My only doctrine?  Thou shalt not illegally download. I believe that Spotify and Pandora are saving the music industry, and I’m prepared to tell you why.

While I have no expertise to speak about the potential economic drawbacks of the service for record companies or artists, I don’t consider arguments that base their logic on the fact that “Katy Perry’s getting ripped off” especially valid. I can attest however, through personal experience, that Spotify and Pandora are fostering a generation of well-listened, musically obsessed consumers who are unconstrained by finances when they’re discovering new music. Developing a love for a new artist or genre takes time, and when you’re investing in a song you’ve never heard before, $1.99 per song can seem like a pretty big commitment to make.

Streaming music services offer a solution to this problem. When I first discovered Spotify, I rarely stretched outside my comfort zone when buying music. Since then, I’ve been to countless shows for artists which I would have never heard of had it not been for Spotify and invested money in CDs and merchandise as well.

With the rise of the digital download and the equivalent death of the CD store circa ten years ago, the consumer’s musical discovery process was left stunted. There was really no marketplace that allowed for the type of exploration that used to be found in the record stores of yore. It seemed for a time that the best way to “discover” new music would be the pathetic thirty-second iTunes preview. This is where streaming services truly shine they are revitalizing the way the consumer discovers music, allowing us to discover more music more often.

The value of streaming services to the industry is not their ability to reverse the effects of a culture that has chosen to devalue music, because they cannot. Rather, these services offer avenues for the average person to easily discover new music and become interested in genres of music they wouldn’t have spent money on otherwise.

While the stream of pirated music will probably never be eliminated, it’s safe to say that the Internet music scene is a lot safer in the hands of Spotify and Pandora than it was in the hands of the now defunct Napster and The Pirate Bay. Countries like Norway and Sweden have even reported significant decreases in pirated music since the rise of streaming music services. Regardless of statistics, undeniably the $120 I spend annually as a Spotify premium subscriber is $120 more dollars than the average illegal downloader.

While Radiohead’s Thom Yorke called the industry’s support for Spotify “the last desperate fart of a dying corpse,” the fact is that services like Spotify keep money gained from full album sales out of the pockets of big record companies while only increasing the artist’s popularity and, resultantly, concert revenue. That sounds like improvement to me. More artists get more exposure, and the consumer can discover the coolest music without having to talk to that hippie stoner at the local record store. He smells like urine anyway.

Fraumeni is a member of

the class of 2017

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