Thoughts on Unlimited Audiobook Streaming

The other day, I noticed that a few books by musical artists are available for streaming on Apple Music.

I don’t have an issue with musician audiobooks on Apple Music, because those basically serve as advertisements for the artists’ music. I’m more worried about the precedent that Apple is setting. I’m not a huge fan of the idea of unlimited streaming for audiobooks the way music is streamed.

For one thing, audiobooks are expensive and time-consuming to make, not that music albums aren’t, but albums are usually played more than once. Most people only listen to audiobooks one time. So where a musician stands to earn money from the same fan over and over for the same piece of content, the author/publisher, etc makes money from that audiobook one time, in most cases.

Some current audiobook streaming services offer audiobook credits in exchange for a monthly fee, which limits the number of books an account holder gets. I think that’s okay, for the record. At least the books retain some semblance of value.

Unlimited streaming of audiobooks devalues them to the point they aren’t worth creating anymore, UNLESS the streaming service charges a high enough price to adequately compensate authors and publishers. And then the problem becomes figuring out what the consumer is willing to pay for such a thing.

I realize that I’m biased because I’m making audiobooks. I also realize that authors/publishers will end up lumped into one of those services one day. At this point, it’s inevitable. That’s just the reality of a culture that seems hellbent on devaluing any and all creative endeavors.



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