In Streaming, One Goliath Creates Many Davids

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Justin Timberlake’s latest song was featured prominently on Spotify’s new music playlist.

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Valerie Macon/Agence France-Presse — Getty Images

The Popcast is hosted by Jon Caramanica, a pop music critic for The New York Times. It covers the latest in pop music criticism, trends and news.

As we come into 2018, streaming has firmly established itself as one of the dominant modes of music consumption, and almost certainly the dominant mode of music distribution. Vast catalog, free access (with ads), immediacy: what could go wrong?

In Streaming, One Goliath Creates Many Davids

Quite a few things, it turns out. Spotify is threatening to become a category killer, and with that comes problems. How does the medium actually warp the message? And how does it affect musicians — who create the content that allows streaming to exist — both in terms of aesthetics and also finances? (Also, what about all the great music that’s not on Spotify? SoundCloud and Bandcamp have huge archives of music that won’t be found there.) Hard conversations about streaming are more important than ever.

For this week’s Popcast, Mr. Caramanica is joined by Liz Pelly, whose recent Baffler article “The Problem With Muzak” outlined several concerns about the economy of streaming; David Turner, a senior staff writer at Track Record and the author of a weekly newsletter about streaming, Penny Fractions; and Joe Coscarelli, the pop music reporter for The New York Times.

Email your questions, thoughts and ideas about what’s happening in pop music to popcast@nytimes.com.

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