“Gone are the days of Top 40, it’s now the Top 43,000,”
Those 43,000 artists account for the top 10% of the streams on the service. Last year it was a Top 30,000. As the user base grows on streaming services so does the fragmentation. And if artists are thinking that they will dominate in the same way that artists dominated in the MTV monoculture, then they need a mind reset.
“The real thing is that there are more relationships being formed to more artists”
Discovery is happening. You can start off listening to Metallica and end up becoming a fan of a Swedish Rock band in the months ahead. For a consumer, streaming services are enablers, as long as the music of the artist you want to hear is on there.
But there are a limited set of artists as Ek puts it, that are negative.
“Obviously, some artists that used to do well in the past may not do well in this future landscape, where you can’t record music once every three to four years and think that’s going to be enough…
The artists today that are making it realise that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.”
I know the album cycle works for a lot of people, because its quantifiable. Release an album and go on tour. Vandenberg released their best album and they can’t tour on it because of COVID-19.
So what’s next for the band to keep the engagement going?
Acoustic releases, some covers of their old stuff or from other bands or another new track in between.
Keep the engagement going. Because that 40,000 artists who make up the top 10% of streamers, will become 50,000 in the next year and then 60,000 and then 70,000.
“I feel, really, that the ones that aren’t doing well in streaming are predominantly people who want to release music the way it used to be released”
That’s fine to do so if you’re happy with that old school release cycle and there is a percentage of your fan base which is also okay with it. But with so much choice, fan devotion to a single artist is not as strong as it was in the past. And even in the past, when the record labels controlled everything pre-Napster, people had hundreds of records and from different artists.
Then again, Taylor Swift’s ‘Folklore’ had 98 million streams in a day. A Spotify streaming record.
The good old day of sales are non-existent and with Copyright terms lasting forever, the person or corporation who holds the rights, will get paid forever for people listening.
This is just on Spotify. The other streaming providers will also have similar numbers and will be paying the rights holders similar amounts for their Top 40,000 artists who make up 10% of the most streamed tracks.
And music is a lottery. No one knows what will stick and break through. Simple economic theory entails that no one is entitled to make a living in music, the same way that every person who sets out to be a professional sports player, doesn’t get there. There are limits to what succeeds and what doesn’t. But at least in music, there is no barrier and everyone can play.
So start playing.