The RIAA reports that music streaming rose 92% in 2017, with Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon reporting growth to 70 million, 36 million and 16 million paid subscribers respectively. This continued growth trend has huge implications for recording artists still working with the LP format, with the typical 1 to 2-year life-cycle of an album falling each time on a market that is practically new again.
Additionally, Billboard has shifted their charting methodology, giving slightly preferential weighting to paid subscribers, vs. ad-based or free users of streaming services.
So what does this mean? One area comes to mind right away – the genres of music that will hold chart positions.
As free streaming services drove chart success for hip-hop and R&B – statistically a group with a larger base of ad-based listeners – we may see the return of Rock & Alternative artists to the charts, where audiences are more likely to subscribe to streaming services.
What’s especially interesting, is that this potential change in chart position may drive behaviour while having almost nothing to do with a change in listener behaviour. The change only reflects how listenership is reported. It just goes to show that we are an industry working to keep pace with (and get ahead 0f) the market itself, which makes it an incredibly exciting and opportune time for artists and labels alike.