3 Minutes of Music Knowledge: Five Ways Streaming Has Changed Music
The “All You Can Eat” subscription business model of streaming music has created a revolution in how music is created and consumed.
There are several ways in which the Business of Music is being impacted by the evolution of music streaming and the consumer’s listening habits.
Here is an opportunity for creatives to take relevant information and incorporate it in a way that maximizes their creativity within the streaming environment by following some easily identified growing trends.
1 Death of the Album: The concept of an “album” has been dying a slow death since the peak of iTunes in the mid- 2000. Streaming has only accelerated the decline of album experiences for an obvious reason. The primary listening experience on streaming platforms are “playlists” and as such, there is less engagement with long-form album content as opposed to track level experiences served up by the curated playlist experience.
2 Songwriting: This has been an interesting and rapid trend developing on streaming platforms. For the first time artists and labels are “stream” driven as opposed to “sales” driven, thus the composition of songs has morphed quickly.
Artists and producers often move the “hook” of a song to the front of a track, sometimes a song might hit the hook before a verse, and often the hook is repeated multiple times as opposed to a “verse-chorus-verse” standard.
Most streaming platforms register :30 of a song in order to count a “stream” the aforementioned strategy is meant to address the changing listener habits of “don’t bore us, get to the chorus” by front-loading a song with the hook to engage consumers as rapidly as possible.
3 New Releases: The days of topping a chart on release week are almost gone. With the exception of superstar artists, release week strategy and driving chart numbers is less important now than it has been historically. The streaming environment allows for a longer window of consumer discovery.
Further, as long as the song and artist are building momentum, the chance of being added into playlists isn’t strictly limited to release week of an artist’s work, this is good news for a long-term marketing plan, or a tiered release strategy that allows video release and social network stories, posts and reactions to grow and maximize streaming engagement over weeks or even months.
4 Content Refinement: There is so much to hear and we have so little time to hear it. As playlists and short attention span have dictated streaming adoption thus far, another interesting trend has led to shorter songs.
Historically pop music was designed and engineered for radio formats, as such, most tracks adhered to a 3:30 length for decades. As streaming market penetration has grown and listeners become less patient, many hit songs are well under 3:00.
A recent Billboard survey indicated that songs in the 2018 Top 100 were :20 shorter than the Top 100 in 2013.
The pop song has been super concentrated to generate the most listens in the shortest amount of time. This has led to a growing trend of a “workshop” type song construction.
Now more than ever there are multiple writers and producers on individual tracks in order to get the biggest bang for the buck out of individual pop tracks.
An anecdotal example of this trend is the most recent Cardi B album “Invasion of Privacy” (April 16, 2018) which listed over 80 writers and 30 producers on it’s13 tracks:
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5 Everyone Is Getting Paid: Good news and bad news here. Yes, the dollars are smaller as compared to the height of the $18.00 compact disc in 2001….that is for sure. But the difference is this; streaming is a global phenomenon.
It is important to note that historically most of the global music market was NOT monetized for music sales. Artists, writers and labels were not paid as most music was stolen. i.e. burned CD’s, pirate sites, MP3’s traded.
In today’s streaming market millions and millions of people from Brazil to India are listening to monetized music for the first time ever and doing so on their phones through legitimate apps in exactly the same way we do in the United States.
The market for music is vastly larger due to tens of millions of new listeners consuming music in large quantities. As the world experiences music through YouTube, Spotify, Apple or regional streaming services artists, writers, producers and labels works are finally being legitimately monetized.
The adoption of music streaming continues to come on-line around the world one fascinating and unique benefit to this new music marketplace is ALL major streaming platforms make the streaming user data available to artists for free.
Artists can access their own data to see who is listening, where those fans are, what other artists they like as well as myriad of other useful metrics that allow creatives to connect, market and grow their specific audiences.
It’s a fascinating time for the music industry, rest assured if you don’t really like what is happening with music now, stick around as there is no doubt it will change again.
It’s time to get serious about the business of music.