Opinion: Music superstars such as Drake and Post Malone are clogging up the streaming market

Opinion: Music superstars such as Drake and Post Malone are clogging up the streaming market

Words by Christie Eliezer

It’s tough for new names to make inroads.

Streaming has not democratised the music industry as first hoped.

In fact, it seems to have created a steeper pyramid where older superstars are not allowing newer ones into the circle.

A music consumption report by BuzzAngle Music on the US music market – the biggest in the world and one which shapes the other markets, including Australia’s – showed that it was in a glowing healthy state in 2019.

On-demand music streams (the hits through streaming platforms) hit 1 trillion for the first time, with audio streams up 32% to almost 706 billion and video streams rising 10.6% to just over 304 billion. On-demand streaming now represents 85% of all music consumption in the US, up from 77% in 2018.

The most audio-streamed artist in the US last year was Post Malone (6.7 billion), followed by Drake (6.3bn).

However Music Business Worldwide (MBW) pointed out an interesting titbit. In 2018, the most streamed artist was Drake with 7.74 billion while in 2017 it was Drake again, with 5.53 billion.

MBW said, “So, despite a 32% YoY (year on year) rise in overall audio streaming activity, the biggest streaming star in the States actually attracted fewer plays than the equivalent artist in the prior year.”

They concluded, “The top 15 artists … collectively lost over 2% market share in the past two years alone.”

The same scenario plays out in the live sector. In 2017, Princeton University economist Alan Krueger said in his book Rockonomics that in the US concert industry, 1% of performers – including Beyoncé, Taylor Swift and Justin Bieber – made 60% of all concert ticket revenues. The top five artists grabbed 85% of the revenue.

“The middle has dropped out of music, as more consumers gravitate to a smaller number of superstars,” Krueger wrote after analysing 10,808 touring acts.

He added that acts benefitting most from finding new audiences from streaming and social media were those starting out.

The ones in the middle were caught between declining record sales and discerning streaming – he stated rock acts were affected most negatively, compared to hip hop who are strongest on streaming services.

It hadn’t changed in the following two years. Pollstar reported that in 2019, that only four of the top 20 live grossing acts could be considered “young”. They were South Korean boy band BTS, Ariana Grande, Post Malone and Shawn Mendes.

The others were long time superstars, with the top five positions fiercely guarded by Pink, Elton John, Ed Sheeran, Metallica and The Rolling Stones.

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