One artist with multiple chart listings simultaneously. It was unheard of, many years ago. A musician releasing one song a month. It was a blog project once. Nowadays, these things are a lot more common. Do we really have such a hunger for new music?
The Pursuit Of Longevity In Music
Blog by Nora Tol
Music Releases; A Game Of Chance
Just last week, I blogged about how “You Say” by Lauren Daigle is still going strong, a year after its release. It’s not the only song still doing its rounds for so long.
Other big hits – “Blurred Lines” by Robin Thicke and “Somebody That I Used To Know” by Gotye – also lasted, uninterrupted, for over 12 months. Even new releases by the same artists couldn’t break the flow.
Nevertheless, a much different sign of the time is way more common today. It’s a high paced constant flow of new music releases.
Can We Keep Up?
I’m glad we’re living in the day and age of streaming services. Otherwise, I couldn’t keep up with stars like Camila Cabello or Ariana Grande. The latter describes her every whim in a song right now. She uses her music like we use our social media.
Personally, I love it, but I’ve discovered other music fans are a little confused.
Song Drop Or Single Release
The definition of various types of music releases is blurring. It has been ever since audio and video streaming services arrived.
Never before have we been able to spot the behavior of listeners and viewers, as clearly as we do now (I’m blatantly ignoring the possibility to manipulate the data of plays in this blog).
Are Albums Still Important?
Back in the old days, singles were released to promote an album. Nowadays, I sometimes feel albums lost their significance.
A theme is appreciated to tie songs together, but it’s not like a requirement anymore. After all, it revolves around individual songs, thanks to streaming.
Due to streaming, we now also see which songs on an album are fan favorites and artists adjust their single releases accordingly.
Thank You Beyoncé
Basically, we – as listeners – don’t appreciate album fillers anymore; tracks that aren’t good enough to be a single. Stars like Beyoncé, who’ve dropped albums with videos for each track made us want quality music, from start to finish.
Music Videos For Album Tracks
To make matters more confusing, artists create videos for the sake of dropping content for video streaming services.
A music video doesn’t equal the track’s release as a single. For instance, Madonna released 5 official music videos for tracks from the Madame X album, but I think “Medellin” is still the last official single.
Putting all the lyric videos aside, Ed Sheeran also dropped 5 official music videos for his No 6 Collaborations Project.
I actually don’t know which song is the current single, because various songs receive radio airplay, including songs that don’t have an official video.
Pushing An Album
So, is his album one massive collection of single releases or are all the individual songs still pushing the album? Wouldn’t it be great if Spotify would show the full total of plays per album, so I could tell…. (I’m pausing to let the suggestion sink in with Spotify).
Nevertheless, the strategy to drop as much music in a short time, is different from the 80s or 90s, in which the highest pace of releasing singles was 1 per 3 or 4 months.
Back then, most singles belonged to an album. That is not the case now either.
EPs And Mixtapes
There are many artists releasing non-album singles, more so from independent artists, but not uncommon from major artists either. I’m not even getting into the increase of EP releases and the revived Mixtape format, which is still an EP in hiding, in my opinion.
Devaluation Of Music
It’s all a collision of circumstance that created this. On one hand, streaming services pay out very little to artists, so artists need way more plays / views now than they needed record sales back in the ice age.
That’s not to say that the devaluation of music didn’t bring new opportunities either. Now, artists can also earn on all album tracks, not just that one album sale. There’s also a continuous income stream on all videos, not just that one time you release a VHS or DVD with your videos on it.
A Creation Is Simply Content
However, music is not only devaluated financially. Where before, a song was a creation – perhaps even art – it’s now simply “content”.
New players in the music industry, like YouTube, Apple, Google, Vevo, Spotify, Tidal etc. changed this. They all look at music and video as content.
The purpose of content to these businesses, is highly driven by attracting advertisers or/and paid subscribers, but it’s also a means to get an audience engaged on their platform longer.
Make no mistake that these new players are going for your money and your time (and most likely, the analysis of your behavior on their platform – aka Big Data, but that aside).
Impact Of Social Media
The addition of time is new for the music industry. And on social media, time always runs out.
Just regular followers of any social media account want to see something fresh and new – on the daily. But real fans can never get enough. That’s one thing time hasn’t changed.
Trying to keep a flow going, now means that life in the fast lane is not fast enough.
The music business is suffering from a severe case of FOMO (fear of missing out) and so, everyone has picked up the pace trying to keep people interested. Quickly releasing music is one of the ways of doing this.
Is It What We Want?
This reaction to just run a little faster, because it looks like the whole world is doing it, is what a lot of industries face. Everybody is experimenting, and everyone chooses their strategy. This is one path to choose, but there are others.
Even today, there are artists still choosing for a slow build: A smaller audience with a longer lasting connection, because the risk with the fast paced route is that people get tired of you as they can’t keep up.
And as for whether we – as listeners – want it. It’s like having a closet full of clothes, but feel like having nothing to wear? So, we keep wanting new things. It’s the same with music.
And yet still, with all those clothes you have, you just keep wearing your favorite items over and over again, because they are comfy. That’s the same when you made a real connection with songs. You keep coming back to those.
Though we all hate to admit it, the artists will go. Maybe the music will too. It’s all just a moment in time and we’re part of it.