Richard Godwin’s article “Is New Music Dying?” suggested that pop music had “taken on the unearthly pallor of the undead”, with young artists pushed out of the charts and off festival stages by veteran musicians such as Paul McCartney because of the algorithms powering streaming. Instead of holding them back, streaming has in fact created exciting opportunities by empowering new talent and removing traditional barriers to reach audiences.
While it’s true that last year 72% of the UK’s streaming market was made up of catalogue, over half (54%) of this ‘catalogue’ were tracks from the 2010s, including recent big hits such as Don’t Start Now by Dua Lipa. Just 7% of the songs were from the 1970s and 4% from the 1960s. Older music’s presence on the charts has only grown because we can now monitor listening to it via streaming, which was impossible with CDs or vinyl LPs. Streaming hasn’t made catalogue releases more popular, just more visible.
There are many more points we could counter with to give a truer picture, but ultimately the biggest streaming hits are almost all current releases, while many new British artists are clocking up hundreds of millions of streams just in the UK every year.
Streaming is enabling new artists to make their music available instantly to the entire world. Rather than killing new music, it has given emerging talent a rich and vibrant platform, with more ways to reach fans than ever before.
Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI, BRIT Awards & Mercury Prize