In a nod to the increasing share of music that is getting listened to via streaming platforms, Billboard has added a Streaming Songs Chart to its weekly listings. Last spring Billboard started charting top songs played by On Demand services, this list will cover those and add the songs played most by streaming services. Macklemore & Ryan Lewis holds the top spot on Streaming Songs with 1.45 million total streams in the U.S. Services included in the reporting are “such services as Spotify, Muve, Slacker, Rhapsody, Rdio, MySpace, Xbox Music and Guvera.”
The data comes from Nielsen Soundscan and Nielsen BDS data – Nielsen SoundScan measures U.S. point-of-sale of recorded music product. Nielsen BDS tracks U.S. radio airplay and music streams. Both systems power many of the Billboard charts. Nielsen recently reported that music purchases are at an all time high, up 3.1% over last year, driven by digital sales. For 2012, sales of albums and track equivalents are down slightly at -1.8% vs. 2011. Digital Albums are up 14% and Digital Tracks are up 5%. CD sales declined 13%.
Pandora meanwhile has posted a recap of sorts of last year on its blog, noting that last year listeners to Pandora created 1.6 billion stations and listened to more than a million different songs by 100,000 different artists. I’m thinking that data is probably at least as deep in terms of sample size as the stuff Nielsen is collecting…
It’s Monday but I want to talk about Friday, Rebecca Black’s teen pop song and video that has had tens of millions of views. The video, as you probably heard, was produced by a place called Arc Music Factory, where Rebecca’s mother paid a couple thousand dollars for her daughter to record it. On youtube the video took off virally and suddenly everyone was talking about it.
There were a lot of snarky comments about how bad it was, particularly in the professional programming trades. It’s definitely a song that can rub you the wrong way – limited lyrics repeated over and over, annoying pop tune. But like it or not, it was the kind of thing that grabbed people’s attention, particularly kids online. They were all talking about it. My daughter, who’s 16, and her friends hated it, but they were watching it, quoting it, making fun of it on each other’s facebook pages.
By March 25th, Black’s song had more than 43 million views and had generated 37,000 digital download song sales, but had been played only 12 times on the radio. Billboard magazine said of the song’s lack of play :” While morning drive talents are discussing (and, thus, adding to) the song’s buzz, it garnered just 12 plays in its entirety in the March 16-22 tracking week among the more than 1,200 stations monitored by BDS for Hot 100 Airplay.”
Unfortunately, radio is so entrenched in their own methods of adding whatever songs the record labels tell them to add that they didn’t play the song that in a week captured the musical buzz of the country. You can call it what you want, say it was a bad song, say it wasn’t worthy of airplay, the bottom line is that the week it came out, that song WAS what everyone was listening to – but not on the radio.
Message: if you want to hear what everyone is listening to, don’t turn to radio.
This is all about radio’s inability to create, capture or capitalize on compelling online content. Figuring out why that’s so difficult and changing the way things are done to overcome those challenges is critical…