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Music Industry

Here’s a stat that proves that THERE’S TOO MUCH DAMN MUSIC OUT THERE!

Streaming music technology is fantastic, almost magical. If, 20 years ago, someone suggested that we’d be able to instantly access virtually ever single song ever recorded, they’d be laughed out of the room and branded a science fiction fabulist. Yet here we are.

If, 20 years ago, someone suggested that a musician could instantly distribute their music worldwide for next to nothing, they’d be called a lunatic dreamer. Yet here we are.

The playing field for music has never been this wide, this long, and this deep. The barrier to entry into the world of music is so low that any musician with access to an internet connection can get involved. And that’s the problem. There’s simply too much music out there for humans can consume.

Take a listen to this SXSW presentation from Rob Jonas, the CEO of Luminate, the company that tracks music consumption. I’ll start by posting this slide from Rob’s talk. (Via MBW)

This stats are staggering.

  • Note the number “158M audio IRCS.” There’s a typo. It should read “ISRC,” which stands for the International Standard Recording Code. That’s the numbering system used by the recorded music industry to keep track of ever single song out there. According to Rob’s data, there are 158,000,000 million songs available on the streaming music platform.
  • Of those 158,000,000 songs, 67,100,000 have been streamed 10 times or fewer. That’s 42% of the total songs available.
  • It gets worse: Almost 38,000,000 have had ZERO streams. Not one. That represents 24% of the total music universe available for streaming. Of the hundreds of millions of people who have access to a streaming service, no one in the universe has heard these 38,000,000 songs beyond their creators. And judging from the Luminate data, not ever the composers themselves have listened to their own songs.

This is sad from an artistic point of view, but it’s also a financial conundrum. According to MBW again, Spotify alone spends at least US$150 million a year on cloud storage. And 38,000,000 songs are just sitting on Google’s cloud storage servers, taking up space and costing Spotify money. The other streamers have the same expenses (although Amazon Music probably gets to skate by because of sister company AWS).

There is a suggestion by some that if your music doesn’t get any traction that it should be removed from the streaming services libraries because it’s dead weight that’s costing the streamer millions in cloud storage.

There is a way you can help out. Forgotify specializes in streaming songs that have never been played. (If you don’t have a Spotify account, you can sample the songs. To hear the full track, you need to be a Spotify subscriber.)

Whatever comes up, know that you’ll be the only person in known universe who has heard that song.

Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 40+ 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.

Alan Cross has 38170 posts and counting. See all posts by Alan Cross

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