Streaming killed the Radio Star
With the tenth anniversary of Spotify – the website went online in 2008 – streaming of music is celebrating an anniversary this year. In the meantime, streaming services such as Spotify and the various competitors like Apple Music and Google Play have become a dominant business model. The music industry has changed dramatically due to customers’ habit of simply playing songs on demand.
Find out what exactly that means in the article below.
Streamlining for streaming – how Spotify and Co. influence your listening habits
In the past, radio was considered to be the main structural factor used by artists to prepare their songs. Should a song be successful as a single and sell albums with it, it had to be suitable for radio – three to four minutes long and with the possibility of instrumental threading. Then the radio show hosts were able to go into moderation, while the last notes faded out. Later on the music video was the sales pitch for the album, visuals were in the spotlight and daring video artists and elaborate productions were in the spotlight of the MTV generation.
Today, the first 30 seconds are decisive, because the initial attention during streaming is so short-lived. Clicks are only counted after the magic limit of 30 seconds. If the listeners click away earlier, it is as if the song had never been played. This is, of course, bad for the artists, because they are paid per call. That has a massive effect on how songs start. The financial necessity to be counted makes the start of a song attention-seeking. Music is made for the listener with attention deficit, after all, the streaming platform is mostly advertisements anyway.
Artists recommend themselves for their concerts and for merchandise, because classical streaming is not really lucrative for the little ones. With physical data carriers such as records and CDs, it was always clear how much money the label was giving the artists, even music bought via iTunes, Amazon and Co. offered a transparent financing model. With Spotify, on the other hand, the actual salary of the artists is more nebulous.
Popular Playlists and the Power of the Giants
But not only the human reproduction is decisive for the success of an artist. The ears of the listeners are not the only thing that needs to be tuned mildly – the algorithm also needs to be satisfied. Website operators have known this for years from the tiresome game with Google and search engine optimization. Content is not only intended for users, but also for the cool algorithm.
If a song is placed in the popular playlists, it is as if it were running on heavy rotation on the radio. For users, the convenience of streaming is what counts; not every user wants to constantly curate new songs. What is recommended is heard.
After all, the algorithm knows your own preferences, so if you just want to browse, you can simply let yourself drift in the algorithm.
And that’s convenient, of course, as are the purchase recommendations through advertisements on social networks. But on the other side are the collected data. For Spotify and Co., precise recommendations require transparent users and an impermeable company.
The American album charts also show how suitable streaming has become for the masses, because streamed songs now also have an influence on the charts. Actually a long overdue step, because in the USA alone more songs will be streamed per day than sold by download per year (!). In the statistics, the sale of physical data carriers is hardly a notable rash. In 2016, there were 90 million physical data carriers in the USA, 734 million paid downloads and 432 billion streamed songs. The sheer market share of streaming services is thus unmistakable.
How real artists surrender and false ones emerge
Those who want to be successful in the music industry adapt themselves and their work to the conditions of the streaming service. This is how Kanye West does it who reworked his album several times. His listeners were able to witness the process, provided they streamed the songs several times.
And for resourceful traders, the streaming model has simply become a source of income, skipping the music part when streaming music. Fake artists with fake songs don’t exist outside the Spotify ecosystem, but the revenue generated by generated clicks is quite real.