How Big is Social Streaming of Music? Big. And It’s Getting Bigger.

Next Big Sound is a data company owned by Pandora. Its job is to look at how people are consuming music and how best to serve those new wants, wishes and demands. They recently released their summer report.

It feels as though a week hasn’t gone by this year without another media frenzy about either a streaming service or a social platform. Charged with sharing industry updates with the team at Next Big Sound, I could barely keep up — Instagram launching their “@music” account to support artists, Apple premiering their long anticipated on-demand streaming service, major label takedowns on SoundCloud, rumors of Facebook launching a streaming service of their own. Everybody and their uncle buying an analytics firm (yours truly included). Oh. Did I forget to mention Tidal?

As such, it seems a pertinent time to step back and once again explore the state of the online music industry through the lens of data. How rapidly are we adopting streaming? (Rapid may be an understatement.) Which platforms are we using more frequently to keep tabs on artists? (Pics or it didn’t happen!) What impact does withholding content from any given service have? (I’m looking at you Taylor.)

Streaming is fast becoming the primary way we consume music, whether that be through the more interactive on-demand services, algorithmically-driven lean-back experiences, the increasingly popular format of human curation and playlists (think Beats One radio or Spotify’s discovery feature), or some combination of the above. In the first six months of 2015, Next Big Sound tracked more than a trillion online plays in total. twitter

That’s right, I said One. Trillion. Plays.

Let me write that out: 1,000,000,000,000. Now you know why you need to keep reading.

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.

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