Musicians have more listeners than ever—which is why they’re making less money than ever

Isn’t it ironic, as Alanis Morissette would say.

Music streaming has entirely toppled the way that people traditionally pay for music, in favor of the consumer. Instead of $9.99 per CD, most of us now pay around that much a month (often less with the insane number of promotional packages and discounts that are alway going on) for a buffet-style subscription to a music-streaming service like Spotify or Apple Music.

The latter has just struck a new agreement with Warner Music Group—one of...

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