Music Industry

Today’s big stars aren’t as big as the big stars of the past. Here’s statistical proof.

Is mainstream the new niche? That’s the contention of the music research boffins at Midia, a company that dives deep into the music industry and the consumption habits of us all.

Every week or so, we get a story about the hugeness of artists like Taylor Swift, Beyonce, Drake, and few others. But the truth is that when compared to the stars of the past, they’re not all that huge at all. Everything big is now small, relatively speaking.

With so much music to choose from–more than 100,000 new tracks are uploaded to the digital streaming platforms every day–even mainstream artists are drowning in the noise. Add in the fact that we’re all our own music directors now–we choose exactly what music we want to hear and when–individuality has overtaken mass broadcasting.

There’s so much music that there’s no consensus anymore, no centre to muisc. We’re not all listening to the same thing like we used to in the pre-internet era, this concept that we all should–need!–listen to a small and finite group of artists and records. Only a thin layer of music fans are paying attention to what passes for “mainstream.” Everyone else is off doing their own thing.

Check out this Midia chart. Pre-internet, the biggest global stars would have far greater penetration into our psyches. Taylor Swift bigger than The Beatles? Hardly. (If you want to go into the weeds to discover why this is so, go here.)

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.

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