Music is released every day, every second of every week. How are artists supposed to keep up with this rat race? The oversaturation of the music industry has prevented new artists from being heard, but also puts too much of an emphasis on artists we already hear too often. The truth is, if you want to become a superstar, the odds are not in your favour.
However, Spotify and Apple Music are just meeting the consumer where they are and trying to achieve the need in an oversaturated landscape of overwhelming choice. They are both just platforms for discovery and maybe, just by chance, you get put on ‘New Music Friday’, which may launch your career.
The market value in the music industry is shifting. Artists need to bring out more tracks more often, just to stay on ‘top of the list’ for companies like Spotify. People are listening to more artists than ever before. With playlists boasting a range of different artists, it should lead to an increase in that artist’s popularity. However, that doesn’t seem to be the case.
Customer validation of music has been on a steady decline since these music giants have come along. The sheer amount of choice has shifted people’s expectations and consumption habits.
When the audience becomes fans of a compilation playlist rather than an artist’s album, it leaves the artist with the short straw. Yes, there is diverse listening, but there is very little loyalty for the individual musician. In 2017, Spotify reported that their average listener was streaming “40 unique artists per week”, for which they credit their ‘Daily Mix’ and ‘Weekly Discovery’ playlists. However,these playlists are personalised for your type of music, which can mislead the consumer.
If we were to look at the hip-hop genre as an example, do you honestly think Eminem would make as much of an impact in today’s music scene? This is in no way discrediting his incredible music, but using this household name in order to highlight how it was easier back then. There was less music on the airwaves when the rapper first broke out, therefore a greater chance of being discovered.
There was no Instagram push, no Facebook ad campaigns, and no twitter feud to ignite the fire behind the record. Eminem grew his name solely based on the quality of his music, but it could be argued that there weren’t as many competitors at the time, nor was their streaming. Physical album sales and iTunes sales were what mattered. It was the Now That’s What I Call… CD sales which would determine what was hot in the world right at that moment. Fast forward to now, where we pay €4.99 a month as students to get unlimited artists streamed immediately to our devices. There is no limit to what we are offered, but there is a selection made by the apps we listen to, to align with our preferences.
With Spotify paying cents per stream it may not be a viable revenue for upcoming artists. The money-funded campaigns from record companies for artists like Ariana Grande, take advantage of the polarisation of the music scene, and drop single after single which Spotify favours to then build the anticipation of the album drop. This is great marketing by Ari’s PR team, however for that time, every other artist seems to be pushed under the carpet. If you want to do well in the music industry, it looks like you need more than just streaming apps for revenue, but you also need to build a solid fanbase or you will get lost in the oversaturated wilderness.