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The Impact of Live Streaming on Today's Growingly Digital


The Impact of Live Streaming on Today's Growingly Digital

Although streaming has continued to grow in popularity, it seems to be that as it stands now that it is only a good development for struggling artists but not for top music superstars who have continued to see their play counts slip and not be able to make the amount of revenue they are used to. 

For some time now, the music streaming services have provided what could be regarded as unfair payouts where top music stars with many tracks reap all the benefits because of the numerous tracks they have. The tables have been turned a bit so that top music stars no longer get as many streams as they used to as compared to mid-tier artists.

This development is good news for mid-tier and upcoming music artists on various streaming services. According to Rolling Stone and Music Business Worldwide in their recent article, there has been a general rise in overall streaming consumption, but top music stars have seen their streams decrease.

BuzzAngle/Alpha in their yearly report shows that the top 50 streaming tracks of 2018 in the United States had about 3.7 billion plays between them. This was far less than what was recorded from 2017 where the total number of plays was about 14.7 billion, which was almost four times more than what was recorded in 2018.

Another thing I noticed was the fact that streaming actually grew by 42% in the United States in 2018 but the streaming of the top 50 tracks went really down compared with that of the previous year. 

Even the top 500 streaming tracks of 2017 were up by just 4% as against the 42% rise in the overall streaming. The implication of this is that despite the increase in music streaming, most consumers prefer to listen to songs outside the top 500.

To me, I will actually say that this is a healthy trend because it looks like new artists are being listened to more than old tracks or the already established music stars. This shows that mid-tier and new artists also have the chance to make a living from their tracks.

Let’s take Spotify for instance, pays artists royalties based on market share. This means that the more an artist song streams, the more revenue generated from that song. And as any artist would know, the pay per song is just an average which depends on the country from which the song is consumed and the artist in question.

For example, even if you pay $9.99 to Spotify just to listen to one artist over and over doesn’t mean the artist takes all the money but it goes into a pool where big hitmakers like Drake and Arianna Grande are taking the major portion of it. But note that the portion is declining now.

According to Daniel EK, the CEO of Spotify, their mission is to enable over one million artists to make a significant amount of their work. The goal is to ensure that more musicians earn a significant amount of money on streaming service as against only the top music stars making all the profits. 

This is commendable and according to my research, it’s happening already because BuzzAngle’s report, shows the effective market shares of the United State’s most streamed songs across all plays on audio platforms. 

This idea is not totally bad at all since the biggest artists in the world will have to share the number of streams with smaller artists and therefore the total money distributed to both the big artists as well as the small ones. This is a perfect way to ensure that revenues are distributed to as many artists as possible.  

In case you are still wondering what this means, for three years in a row, Drake had been the most-streamed artist for audio-only. In 2016, 2017, and 2018, he was the number-one USA streaming artist.

By my calculation, this should comfortably make Drake receive the highest revenue by a wide margin. But with what is going on in the global music business, new artists are increasing their share of the format’s economics where there is a commercial ecosystem in which more artists can make a living.

This trend now forces the biggest-earning superstars in the world to share a chunk of their annual wealth with smaller and newer artists.  This way, the mid-tier artists can generate revenue on streaming platforms faster than superstar artists.

Personally, I will say this development means nothing but good for every artist who has not yet become a superstar. This will give them the chance to also make some significant amounts of money from their streamed songs. 

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