March was the month of Ed Sheeran, in fact, the entire year may as well be his to own. His latest album completely dominated the singles chart with 16 songs in the top 40, 9 in the top 10. ‘Shape of You’ has been at #1 for 14 out of the 16 weeks we have lived through in 2017. Don’t fear, this blog is not a rant about how over rated Ed may be, it is more of a food for thought into the state of the charts and the way music is consumed since the dawn of streaming services as they only continue to grow.
The charts are not what they once were, when an artist or band released a single, you bought it, and then it charts depending on the amount sold. Simple as this may seem, since streaming services have been the choice of a new generation of consumers we are now in a position where just 11 songs reached #1 in 2016 compared to 41 in 2000!
What does this say about our audiences of today and future consumers? We are in an age of ‘On Demand’, ‘Instant’, ‘Now’. If I order something online, I expect it tomorrow, preferably the same day. Similarly, with music, we want any song at our fingertips, wherever we are. When is the last time you took your iPod out? Going out with just 10,000 songs in your pocket is not enough, we still have the fear of not fancying anything in that list, that desire to consume something new cannot be filled, what if I fancy listening to that one obscure track by Wu Tang Clan? What if your mate says ‘you gotta hear KMT by Drake, the bass is so deep’?
We are in an age of ‘On Demand’, ‘Instant’, ‘Now’. If I order something online, I expect it tomorrow, preferably the same day.
I am a daily Spotify user, being a musician I love discovering new artists and being inspired using the personalised ‘Discover Weekly’ playlist. I have heard artists and bands that I would otherwise never of heard of. But I am in the minority, Ed Sheeran’s entire album didn’t get in the singles charts through psychical copies, there is a sense of community on these services that encourages everyone to tap into what’s hot.
We now find ourselves in a world where we have millions of songs instantly available wherever we are, all the time, yet everyone wants the same 16 tracks by one artist. Streaming services are providing freedom of choice, to discover new music and be inspired – but do audiences want it? We essentially still want to hear the latest trend but the ease of accessibility has de-valued what was once ‘a fair game’.
If you do one thing after reading this, it should be listening to the Discover Weekly playlist. You give lesser known artists that all important 0.0000001p and as it is based on your listening habits, it will sound exactly like Ed.
Mitch Syrett, Campaign Planner