Could music stream ripping software put Spotify and other music services at major risk?

could music stream ripping software put spotify and other services at major risk ss

The music industry has been forced to reinvent itself thanks to the Internet. Ever since Napster first appeared on the scene, consumers have been finding ways to get their music for free, at the detriment of recording labels and artists. One answer to this issue has been the subscription music model: Services like Spotify, Last.fm, MOG, and Rdio are compromises between a market that is searching for profit models and customers who simply won’t spend what they used to.

How well this new business model works is up for debate. Indie artists say they’re getting ripped off by such services, and some established musicians won’t allow their music to be sold this way. Selling access to music rather than selling the commodity is a very new idea, and one with its drawbacks and benefits. While in the case of most services consumers don’t actually have ownership over this data, it has largely been linked to cutting down on piracy.

Still, there are always ways around this. Via stream ripping, users are still able to pirate music, even within what are supposed to be safe harbors for artists.

And Spotify is one of the services to fall victim to the tool. The site is still relatively new to the U.S., but sites like SpotifyRipper and dozens like it give users a loophole in the system so they can get their music for free. Using applications like ReplayMusic, they can record from the service to access the music offline.

“This is a grey area as the concept has not been tested in court,” according to the SpotifyRip website. “However it’s legal to record from Internet radio and it could be said that Spotify is a type of Internet radio.” Still, the site admits this is against Spotify’s user policy. There are such services available for a variety of applications, like MOG and Pandora. Developers are actively making and selling software to help consumers (of every tech skill level) grab and keep their music.

“Stream ripping is nothing new and there are a number of cheap and free software tools available online to enable this activity,” says Mark Mulligan of Music Industry Blog. “It has been a risk of streaming services for years. The reality is that stream ripping will happen, but I do not consider it to be a major risk.” He says that while many services are user-friendly, all metadata is stripped from the files, so the process itself can be time consuming.

“That is not to say this isn’t a problem for Spotify, it is,” he says. “But it is much less of a problem than issues such as hitting profitability, creating long-term financial viability, [and] competing with other streaming services.”

Music industry analyst Kevin Erickson also says that while Spotify has legally covered its bases with its terms of service, stream ripping can still hurt it. “If SpotifyRip becomes popular, then the press will not be favorable. Spotify claims to have stopped piracy (or reduced it) in some markets, so that claim will go out the window if SpotifyRip makes inroads.”

While it’s seemingly not a major issue, it could continue to give streaming services an uphill battle with record labels. Google Music has had trouble getting all four major companies on board with its application, and Spotify’s launch was delayed because of contract negotiations. Back in 2007, the RIAA said stream ripping wasn’t a threat to the industry, but that it hoped technology to prevent it would be adopted to circumvent the issue altogether. Of course music consumption has undergone vast changes since 2007, and it’s looking like the powers that be didn’t fulfill the RIAA’s plan, and the notion the industry would bypass stream ripping entirely was in vain.

There seem to be endless hurdles on the road to an artist-profitable, consumer-centric music market. Stream ripping has been happening for years without much concern, or mainstream users being aware of it, but the increasing popularity of the subscription platform could seriously change that. If stream ripping were to become a more popular activity, new services could have trouble getting off the ground.

Spotify could ultimately serve as a cautionary tale for this: “[It] could begin to receive pressure from the labels to close the tech gap in the platform to counteract the SpotifyRip technology,” Erickson notes. If it becomes a big enough problem, labels will start to turn toward services that have prevented or are taking steps to prevent stream ripping. 

It also means that consumers have a loophole at their fingers. Authorities have known about stream ripping but either thought that technology would eventually disable it or that the music model wouldn’t lend itself to it. But the opposite has happened, and that means that yet again there’s a small window for music lovers who want some ownership over their digital content. 

Mobile

New Tidal app will bring a wave of music to your Samsung smartwatch

Tidal fans now have another way to enjoy their music collection. The Tidal app is coming to Samsung wearables, including the Samsung Galaxy Watch, Gear Sport, and more. Tidal will also be bringing its wearable app to other devices.
Computing

Don't use streaming apps? These are the best free players for your local music

Rather than using music streaming apps, you may want something for playing your local music. Good news! There are some good alternatives. These are the best media players you can download for free on Windows.
Smart Home

How to stream music from Google Home to Bluetooth speakers or headphones

Want to stream music on Google Home, but listen to it through a different speaker or a pair of headphones? Here's how to play streaming music on Google Home through Bluetooth headphones or a Bluetooth speaker.
Music

Here's our head-to-head comparison of Pandora and Spotify

Which music streaming platform is best for you? We pit Spotify versus Pandora, two mighty streaming services with on-demand music and massive catalogs, comparing every facet of the two services to help you decide which is best.
Digital Trends Live

Hip-hop artist Rakeem Miles talks musical upbringing, ‘Dante’s Toys’

Rakeem Miles may be best known for his musical endeavors, but he's looking to change that with his forthcoming animated show. On Monday's DT Daily, we discuss Miles' origins, what drives his passions, his favorite superhero, and more.
Music

Music to our ears: Spotify at long last arrives on the Apple Watch

Spotify subscribers are now able to jam out to their favorite tunes on their favorite workout accessory, as the Swedish streaming service has finally released its official Apple Watch app.
Home Theater

Looking for a podcast? Pandora’s Podcast Genome Project is just the ticket

Pandora has created a brand new service for podcast listeners. Powered by calls the Podcast Genome Project, the new podcast offering uses an advanced combination of algorithms and human curation to deliver the perfect podcasts for you.
Home Theater

Get the most boom for your buck with the best headphones under $100

Everybody wants a bargain, and this list has a bunch. For those looking for a solid set of headphones without spending a big stack of cash, this list is is your starting point. Check out our picks for the best headphones under $100.
Home Theater

5 gorgeous turntables that spin stacks of wax in style for less than $500

Vinyl records are awesome, but they're also finicky. To get the best out of your stacks of wax, it's best to play them on a quality turntable. Here are the best turntables to be had for under $500.
Digital Trends Live

DT Daily: Waymo’s driverless cars, ‘Fallout 76’ tips, and Racella

In today's episode of DT Daily, we discuss Waymo's foray into the ridesharing sector, along with various tips for making the most of the recently launched Fallout 76. We also sit down with singer Racella to chat about her new EP, Waves.
Home Theater

A recent Twitter leak may show the upcoming AirPods 2 model

Apple plans to release new AirPods much the same as it does new iPhones, and a wireless charging case, water resistance, and better Siri integration are among the improvements we can expect in future models.
Music

The best movie soundtracks of all time, from 'Star Wars' to 'E.T.'

Whether you're a lover of beautifully composed original scores or a fan of perfectly compiled popular music, these are the best movie soundtracks of all time — from Star Wars to Garden State.
Music

How to convert and play FLAC music files on your iPhone or iPad

The high-resolution revolution is upon us, and FLAC files are a popular way to store hi-res sound. But what if you’re an iOS user? Check out our article to find out more about FLAC files, and how to use them on Apple devices.
Music

The best new music this week: Anderson .Paak, Ryley Walker, and more

Are you looking for the best new music? Each week, we scour the internet to find the most compelling new releases just for you. On tap this week: Anderson .Paak, Ryley Walker, and Tyler the Creator.