Are streaming music services destroying songwriting? Maybe. Read this.

The changes came slowly at first but once certain secrets were discovered, the changes began to accelerate. Songwriters, artists and record labels started to figure out how streaming was changing the way people interacted with music. That’s when the music–or more correctly, the songwriting–began to evolve. And the results are disturbing.

From The Telegraph:

There’s no doubt that Spotify has transformed a music industry seemingly in terminal decline thanks to falling revenues. Yet if it has changed the way we access pop music, there’s growing concern that it’s also changing the music itself. Writers for some of the planet’s biggest artists claim the tech giant’s make-or-break power over what singles reach listeners has led to writers having to tailor their music for Spotify’s algorithms, transforming how music is written.

“If someone skips a track in the first 15 seconds, Spotify interprets that as a sign the song sucks, and punishes the song. The more skips, the less likely it is to turn up in playlists,” says the songwriter, who’s written chart-toppers for Grammy award-winning artists but who wishes to remain anonymous for fear that speaking out may damage his future releases’ chances of success on Spotify (several others declined to talk at all).

The only way around it, he says, is to start each song with its catchiest bit, or “hook.” It’s the reason why Ariana Grande’s latest single No Tears Left to Cry leaps straight into its infectious chorus and why Ed Sheeran’s Shape Of You begins with the marimba melody that carries the rest of the song.

“When everyone is having to tick the same boxes, everything ends up sounding the same,” says the songwriter. “It’s extremely damaging to what pop is supposed to be: eclectic, spontaneous and fun.”

It gets worse. Keep reading, especially the bit about how a song like Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean” would never, ever be a hit today.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.