Streaming Music


Ethical shopping guide to sites to stream music from, from Ethical Consumer

Ethical shopping guide to sites to stream music from, from Ethical Consumer


This is a product guide from Ethical Consumer, the UK's leading alternative consumer organisation. Since 1989 we've been researching and recording the social and environmental records of companies, and making the results available to you in a simple format.

This guide is part of our series looking at alternatives to shopping on Amazon. 

This guide includes:

  • ethical and environmental ratings of 10 sites to stream music from
  • Best Buy recommendations
  • company profiles of MP3, CD and music streaming retailers

 

As part of the Amazon Alternatives series we also have guides to buying  MP3s and CDs.

Customise your scorecard ratings

How important to you?
Less
More
Click the + icon to expand categories

To save your personal score settings and use them elsewhere around the site, please  Log In.

 

Help

Score Ratings

Our ratings are live updated scores from our primary research database. They are based on primary and secondary research across 23 categories - 17 negative categories and 6 positive ones (Company Ethos and Product Sustainability). Find out more about our ethical ratings

 

Score table

The score table shows simple numerical ratings out of 20 for each product. The higher the score, the more ethical the company.

Move the sliders to customise these scores. 

Click on a product name to see the stories behind the score (subscribers only). 

 

Full Scorecard

The Full Scorecard shows the 'black marks' for each product, by each of the 17 negative categories. The bigger the mark, the worse the score. So for example a big black circle under 'Worker Rights' shows that the company making this product has been severely criticised for worker abuses.

Scores start at 14.  A small circle means that half a mark is deducted, a large circle means that a full mark is deducted.

Marks are added in the positive categories of Company Ethos and the five Product Sustainability columns (O,F,E,S,A).  A small circle  means that half a mark is added, a large circle means that a full mark is added.

The Full Scorecard is only available to subscribers. Click on the More Detail link at the top of the score table to access it.

 

Customising Rating Scores

Move the sliders to change the weighting given to each category. You can open up each of the 5 main categories by clicking on the + sign. This way you can compare products according to what's ethically important to YOU.  

 

Saving Your Customised Weightings

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

You must be signed-in to save your customisations. The weightings you have given to each category will be saved premanently (subscribers) or only for this visit to the site (registered users).  Once set, they will be used to calculate the scores in all the buyers' guides that you view. 

 

Stories and Data behind the scores

To see all the stories and research data behind the ratings you'll need to be a subscriber.

How the Sliders work
Move the sliders to see how different issues affect the score table
Refine each category by clicking the + icons
Save your settings (you need to be signed in first)
Key to expanded Score table

Best Buys

as of Sept/Oct 2013


As our ratings are constantly updated, it is possible that company ratings on the score table may have changed since this report was written.

 

The Best Buys for streaming music are buying direct from the artist or label.

There is currently no Best Buy for streaming from brands on the score card. Despite Grooveshark coming out best on our score table the legality of the site is something of a grey area. This has meant that in the past it has been threatened with closure.

 


 

 

What is streaming music?

 

 

Streaming music is where you can listen to music on the internet without having to download any audio files. Instead you listen to an ongoing music feed, or stream, from an archive that is hosted on a website. 

 

The growth of digital listening
 

With such dramatic changes to music buying habits, it’s difficult to get a handle on the current state of play, and sales figures differ wildly. One thing is for sure though – the balance of power is now shifting to online digital music from physical CDs and it’s only the rate of change that is a matter for debate.

According to market analysis from Mintel, between 2007 and 2011 the value of digital music sales rose from £100m to £400m per year. Over the same period sales of CDs and vinyl dropped from £1,200m to £880m per year. The music industry trade body, the BPI, believes that in the first quarter of 2012 digital music accounted for 55.5% of total music sales in the UK.

The streaming market, dominated by Spotify, is growing rapidly. According to the BPI, a medium that just 5 years ago didn’t exist is now worth more than £49m annually to British record labels. Globally, Spotify has 20 million users including 5 million paying subscribers.

 
 

Are you buying from a tax haven? 
 

Two streaming websites are also using a tax haven address. Napster is registered in Luxembourg with its Terms and Conditions clearly stating that any consumer entering into a contract with the company would be dealing directly with NAPSTER LUXEMBOURG S.A.R.L.

In the classical section, Naxos is the only company that offers a streaming service (in addition to CDs) but its registered address is in Hong Kong with the same Hong Kong address appearing on the receipt for a year-long UK subscription.

 

 

 

Company Profile

 

Spotify scores worst for its likely use of tax avoidance. It is registered in the high risk jurisdiction of Delaware in the USA with subsidiaries in Luxembourg, Monaco and Switzerland. It also has no publicly available environmental report.

 
Want to know more?

If you want to find out detailed information about a company and more about its ethical rating, then click on a brand name in the Score table. 

This information is reserved for subscribers only. Don't miss out, become a subscriber today.

 

 

More on buying music without using Amazon

 

Introduction to buying music without Amazon

Are you buying from a tax haven?

Product guide to MP3 retailers

Product guide to CD retailers

Navigate To:

 

Ethical made easy

Detailed ethical ratings for over 40,000 companies, brands and products, plus Ethical Consumer magazine.

30 day trial subscription - find out more