Mid-Year Streaming Spikes, Concord Continues Its Buying Spree, And Measuring Streaming 'Hits'

Jul 07, 2017

Benom Plumb, Assistant Professor of Music Industry Studies at the University of Colorado Denver, reviews the biggest stories of the week affecting music royalties. He is a music industry professional, not an attorney.

The Music Industry At Mid-Year Mark: Streams/Subscriptions Explode While Sales Continue To Slip (Variety)
Benom’s Take: These 2017 mid-year numbers once again solidify the two data points we are seeing in a pattern: A streaming/subscription boom and dropping physical sales/downloads, save for vinyl. Vinyl sales are up 20% over 2016 and have contributed to 5% of all album sales, up 1.5% from 2016. However, the most telling piece of growth data from this mid-year report is that we are now seeing an average of 10.8 billion on-demand streams a week in 2017 - and it’s only July.  In all of 2016, we never saw 10 billion streams in a single week and now we’re averaging almost 11 million a week. It will be very interesting to see where we end up for all of 2017, but so far, so good.

The New Definition of a “BIG HIT” is 2 BILLION Streams (Hypebot)
Benom’s Take: The new world of the recorded music business is rapidly changing from an “ownership model” (buying CD’s and downloads) to an “access model” (accessing/streaming any song we want, whenever we want). One of the results of this change is understanding the new streaming numbers in relation to hit songs. Though I don’t agree with everything in this opinion piece, it’s pretty accurate. The biggest hits of the last few years are all members of the “BILLION” club with billions of views and streams. Notable mentions are Psy’s “Gangnam Style” and Meghan Trainor’s “All About That Bass”.

What I take issue with in the article is when the author says it takes 10 million streams to get noticed by the music industry. That’s simply not true and perhaps there’s some hyperbole in that statement? If an artist has 1+ million views or streams, they certainly will be noticed by industry decision makers. Social media numbers matter because it shows what an artist is able to accomplish on their own. It creates a basis and foundation for industry professionals hoping to take the artist to the next level. Independent artists with millions of views and streams can usually capitalize on that attention and grow their careers with the help of a capable team. It doesn’t take 10 million before anyone notices!

Nevertheless, the point here is clear - we have to change our thinking in terms of what successful numbers are for “HIT” songs. It was only last year that the RIAA added streams to their criteria for RIAA Certified Gold and Platinum records. Though slow to adapt, the industry is starting to understand what the new numbers are for today’s hits.

Concord Bicycle Music Acquires Assets From Warner Music’s Divestment (Music Business Worldwide)
Benom’s Take: Divide and conquer, Concord Bicycle makes another big acquisition move. In recent weeks we spoke about Concord’s purchase of Imagem Publishing, as well Warner’s many years-long process of divesting recorded music assets from Parlophone Records. Notable mentions of recordings acquired by Concord Bicycle include some of Jewel’s Atlantic Records catalog as well as recordings by Sergio Mendes. With all the recent acquisition activity and heavy investment backing Concord has obtained, it makes you wonder: Who’s next on Concord’s “need it, got it” list?