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The days of free music streaming are coming to an end—as suspected. Of course something like this was likely to happen with discussion concerning the status of net neutrality wafting in and out of the public eye. The encroachment of free internet has finally seen light at the end of the tunnel and that light is looking pretty glum for the average internet user.

YouTube plans on rolling out an ad-free music streaming service called Music Key for a monthly payment of $7.99 and includes membership to Google Play All Access, quite the bargain when compared to Spotify and a dozen other streaming services whose prices hover around $9.99 for mobile streaming and offline playback. After witnessing the growing popularity of ad-free music streaming, such as Pandora and Rdio, Google—who owns YouTube is seeking different outlets to gain profits. And requiring subscription fees for various services is an excellent source of steady revenue, proving that the billion-dollar tech company is a lot more than a search engine selling advertisement.

But how will these seemingly minor changes affect the creativity and freedom that makes the internet so alluring? Applying restraints and limitations in the form of fees and tiered services greatly limits the amount of information available to users whether it’s in the form of music or news. Before you know it, we’re back to discussing the politics of maintaining a free internet.

And aside from Google, who else is tying to get their hands on some extra cash? Major record labels and they’re not really trying, they’re actually demanding and threatening to pull music if royalties aren’t handed over in the shape of a generous check. And for a service that currently offers free streaming like YouTube, cutting music from a particular label would be a huge loss to the company and its subscribers.

Imagine if Sony decided to pullout of the streaming industry. Artists falling under any subsidiary label such as Columbia, RCA, Epic and a host of smaller independent labels would disappear… and that’s just naming a few. There’s still Universal and Warner Music Groups, and EMI who’ve all managed to acquire their fair share of smaller studios.

While streaming services continue observing an increase in users, record labels are desperately thinking of ways to keep sales afloat as downloadable music consumption declines. They’re also privy to the idea of phasing out music hardcopies in hopes of eradicating piracy issues altogether, a rather brazen statement suggesting the disconcerting agenda studios have tucked under their sleeves. And what about the success of artists? How much of the studio’s profit do they receive in the jumbled trickle down of royalties via monthly fees?

The answer is virtually nothing; artists receive only fractions of pennies per stream. And it gets more depressing when equating the number of streams to a single itunes purchase. So long as streaming services continue collaborating with record labels, artists must agree to unfair terms if they wish to have their music heard. Not much of a choice these days for artists and users.

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