Drake, Denzel Curry, Pardison Fontaine, and IDK are all well known, large players in the rap world, but in the first week of 2020 alone, none of their new music appeared on Apple Music or Spotify. Drake’s single “War” premiered as a video on YouTube, as well as Denzel Curry’s eight-track mixtape 13LOOD 1N + 13LOOD OUT, while Pardison Fontaine and IDK released their new tracks on SoundCloud.

Neither YouTube nor SoundCloud are in any way new to music streaming. SoundCloud has remained one of the most popular late-2000’s audio sites to upload free mixtapes, and YouTube, according to Forbes, is still the “single most-used website in the world to listen to music legally.”

They may not be the new players, but when well-known rappers and global artists like Drake start giving out music for free on these platforms, you have to really question the state of recorded music.

SoundCharts, which covers the business side of the music industry, reported this past July that the payouts to artists on Spotify equaled $0.0032 cents per stream, with Apple Music at $0.0056 cents. To put such a tiny amount in context, a song would have to be streamed on Spotify 10,000 times just to make $32 (or $56 on Apple Music).

On YouTube, you don’t need a $9.99/month subscription to listen to music, however, with most channels gaining revenue through advertisements. According to Influencer Marketing, YouTube channels, on average, can receive roughly $30 to $50 every 10,000 views, which is basically the same payout as Apple and Spotify. If you’re making the same amount of money, why not give it to us for free on YouTube?

It’s dangerous waters for the music streaming wars, and especially for the recorded music industry. If artists are not only making most of their money through touring and merchandise, but lose almost nothing by uploading their music to free streaming services like YouTube, what staying power do subscription services like Apple Music or Spotify truly hold? People may talk about how iTunes destroyed the music industry when they decided to sell digital mp3’s for $0.99, but subscription services like Spotify may have just killed the recording industry all together.

What do you think? Drop your thoughts in the comments below.