the streaming wars

From Miley Cyrus to Baz Luhrmann, 29 Musicians and Celebs on How They Stream Music

Photo-Illustration: Photos by Getty Images

Last year, the music-streaming wars turned into an all-out bloodbath. Though digital song sales hit a seven-year low, the RIAA reported that digital revenue as a whole had finally surpassed that of physical CDs. In other words, the growth of streaming services has been that immense. Apple Music, Spotify, and Tidal all vied for your allegiance and, more importantly, your cash. Even YouTube, a popular spot for streaming music that rarely sticks its nose into the debate, rolled out a more curated version of its video service specifically aimed music fans. By now you’ve probably already made your decision in terms of whether or not streaming is right for you and which service you know and love the most, but what about some of your favorite musicians and music-minded celebs? Vulture has been asking them if they’ve switched over to the music-streaming dark side, and if they have, which service they like best. Here’s what 25 of them they had to say.

Marky Ramone
“I don’t stream music, but that’s up to the individual. I don’t care what anyone else does with their technology. I like everything, you can’t fight technology. That’s the way it goes.”

Boy George
“I listen to Spotify, iTunes, and SoundCloud. It’s not that I like or dislike it. It’s just kind of there, and you have to embrace technology because otherwise you get left out. I don’t really think about [how it has affected me as an artist] because I think it’s such a different time now. I feel very lucky to have started my career in the ‘80s, when people regarded records as kind of sacred objects and bought them in the millions. Now people have a different relationship with music, and it’s just how it is.”

Baz Luhrmann
“I do use Tidal, because I know Jay, and I use Spotify sometimes. But I have the most beautiful Sonos speakers, actually, so I walk around with my iPad and DJ badly.”

Jenny Lewis
“I don’t stream music. I’m a cassette girl and a vinyl girl. I’ve never downloaded anything for free — I buy records, I’m old-fashioned in that way. I have a huge cassette collection, and a little cassette player in my kitchen. I just like listening to music repetitively, where you repeat the side over and over again; that’s how you truly get to know a record.”

Miley Cyrus
“The way I’m doing it, SoundCloud. It’s free. It’s the best.”

Lance Bass
“It’s a constant battle in our house. [Laughs.] But SiriusXM is awesome, but that’s because I get it for free. In all seriousness, I use Pandora a lot. When I’m home I put it on because they’ve got some really great playlists. I’m still trying to get behind Apple Music. For me, they are very hit-and-miss. I don’t understand why I can’t listen to the music that I already bought. I’ll get an error message telling me that my music is offline. So then I’m like, where is it? I’ll play around with the settings, but it doesn’t always work. It’s getting to be too much of a hassle, so I’m sticking with Pandora and SiriusXM right now. But I haven’t written Apple Music off completely, but I want a less complicated interface! I haven’t used Tidal. We have unending options of the way we access our music these days. And I just can’t get past the way [Tidal] was rolled out.”

Clive Davis
“I’m using Spotify and Pandora, I’m using Apple. I’m not just doing one at this point.”

“I don’t stream, I buy my stuff on iTunes. I’m technologically impaired. I think it’s just because I literally don’t know how? I like records, I have a record player, but I refuse to grow up.”

The Alabama Shakes’ Brittany Howard
“I buy my music. I encourage everyone to buy records. For me right now, streaming is just this silly thing that’s probably going to be a really big deal in the future. Will anybody buy records again? I’m not sure.”

Tori Kelly
“I use Spotify because I like how organized it is. I’m always kind of stuck to it, I got used to it quickly.”

Sharon Osbourne
“Streaming upsets me because the artist gets so little out of it, and it’s just not fair. It’s across the board. It’s pennies — it’s nothing. We’re too late. It’s Pandora’s box [Ed. note: seemingly no pun intended.] Once it’s open, you can’t go back. But I understand why new artists would want to do it, absolutely. But established artists should never do it.”

Chris Daughtry
“I use iTunes and Pandora. I can’t remember the last time I bought a CD. It got to the point where I was tired of figuring out where to put it when I was not listening to it, so I jumped on the digital bandwagon just for lack of space. I do love the aspect of physically opening a CD and looking at the art still. Luckily, iTunes kind of does that, in a way. You don’t get to smell it, but you can zoom in on the artwork. As a musician, and just as a fan of music as a kid, it was as important to get the artwork as it was to get the record. As long as they keep all of that tied together, I think it’s still the same experience, relatively speaking.”

Bernadette Peters
“I still listen mostly on CDs. I like to put it in the machine and listen to it. I mean, I buy iTunes just so I can get some music, but I usually like to pretend I have CDs.”

Kurt Vile 
“I’ve listened to Spotify, like the rest of most of the world. I don’t prefer it per se, but I think Spotify seems like it has the best catalogue. There are probably other streaming services that have just as much of a database, but I just know that I have Spotify and I use it.”

Charlie Puth
“I try to buy as much music as possible, so it’s still iTunes, ‘cause I’m like an old geezer. If I want to hear something immediately, I go to Spotify. Spotify’s dope because the interface is very intuitive — but they all are, that’s just what I have on my phone.

Keb’ Mo’
“I don’t have streaming yet. I still have to roll around on my iPod, and I don’t even know what’s on there since I have so much stuff. So I just shuffle and think, Wow! I find songs I’ve written that I forgot about. I find artists I forgot about. The mix on my iPod is just awesome.”

Andra Day
“I am a big Shazam-er. I’m not fantastic when it comes to technology, I won’t lie. I’m not going to be all trying to do different things. Shazam is real easy for me. That’s how I consume it: I Shazam, and then I go buy, so I’m not really a big streamer. But I do use Spotify. I like that you have access to all those albums. But I really try to buy a body of work and support the artist.”

Chris Botti
“I stream music reluctantly. I’m really hoping that there’s going to be a new business model, like Netflix, where they allow the musicians to not stream it for the first six months so that record companies can somehow stay in business, and then give it to them, like they do on Netflix, and voilà. Adele is setting a good template for that, and I’m hoping that people will do that. Sometimes when I’m checking out solos, or checking out music, I’ll stream, but I’m not a real big fan of it, to be honest. I generally try not to stream, but I always pay for the service. I’m paid on all of them. [Laughs.]”

Maddie Ziegler
“I usually just use iTunes, and then I also use Spotify. Then, whenever I don’t have a song, I usually just go on YouTube. I love Spotify because you can literally listen to any song in the entire world. And it’s not that much money to subscribe, which is really, really cool.”

Shawn Mendes
“I feel like I’m learning. I just started using Spotify. It’s really nice, I like the whole design. It’s cool because I can go on the pop mixes and see my songs there.”

A$AP Ferg
“I use anywhere I can find new music, and I pay for all my music.”

Leon Bridges
“I’d have to roll with Apple Music. It’s easy, and I love it.”

Pentatonix (sans Kirstin Maldonado)
Mitch Grassi:
I use Apple Music and Spotify. I like them both because I feel like the catalogues are humongous. Just endless amounts of possibilities, and the radio features are amazing, too.
Kevin Olusola:
I use Rhapsody because it is a just a very convenient, user-friendly service.
Scott Hoying:
I use Apple Music and Spotify; if Apple Music doesn’t have a song that I like, I’ll go to Spotify, and vice versa.
Avi Kaplan:
The new YouTube streaming service is really great as well. I like that it has a lot of options, and I’m always on YouTube anyway.

Angie Martinez (Power 105.1 DJ, formerly of Hot 97)
“People send me a lot of music, which is not really fair. I’m a Tidal girl, though. I like to make my own playlists on there, and they tend to be all over the place. Someone just asked me for a cooking playlist, so it was like Marc Anthony and a whole Latin playlist. I also have a rap-collaboration playlist, because to me, the ‘90s was the best time for rap collaborations. I get a lot of my stuff on Tidal.”

Andy Grammer
“Right now I’m Spotify because it is just so easy to use. I’m waiting for someone to tell me, ‘Dude, you’ve got to get on the Apple one,’ and I haven’t had that quite happen yet, but I’m not opposed to it. It’s tough as a songwriter to figure out how we are going to make it all work correctly. I don’t think we have it yet.”

Martina McBride
“I use Spotify. It’s just accessible, it’s very easy to use. My kids use YouTube. I don’t know if streaming has impacted my creativity. For me, when I go in the studio, I don’t think about how the music is going to get consumed. I just create what comes from my heart, so for me, it has not affected the creative process.”

*Lisa Butterworth, Ericka Goodman, Devon Ivie, Claire Landsbaum, Charley Lanyon, Bennett Marcus, Kelly Marino, Vicki Salemi, Jamie Sharpe, Jonathan Shia, and Katie Van Syckle, Soo Youn contributed reporting.

29 Musicians and Celebs on How They Stream Music