Are we witnessing the death of the streaming megahit?
MBW’s Stats of the Week is a series in which we show why a single data point deserves the attention of the global music industry. Statistics of the week are supported by Group Five Music, a record label, distribution and rights management company focused on technology.
For decades the recording industry has focused its attention and investment on one thing above all else: the hit record.
Still, new numbers from the United States this week suggest that hits – like in blockbuster megahits, dominating the industry – are increasingly becoming a less spotted beast.
Despite millions more people playing music on streaming services every year, the industry’s biggest streaming hit in mid-2021 is significantly smaller than its biggest streaming hit in mid-2021. year 2020, 2019 and 2018.
To illustrate this point, we must turn to the new semi-annual industry report, covering the U.S. recording industry for the first six months of 2021.
MRC figures show the biggest success of the first half of 2021 in the United States was that of Olivia Rodrigo Driving license, which drew 460.2 million on-demand audio streams over the past six months.
It’s a lot of games.
But 460.2 million is the smallest amount of on-demand audio streams collected by the U.S. No.1 hit mid-year in four years:
- In the first half of 2020, Roddy Ricch’s The box pulled in 728.7 million audio stream in the first half of the year, according to MRC / Nielsen Music data.
- Streaming track n ° 2 over the H1 2020 period, Life is Beautiful, from Future (Ft Drake), also scored more plays in mid-year than Driving license, with 476.2 million.
- In the first half of 2019, Lil Nas X’s Old town road pulled in 596.1 million audio stream.
- And in the first half of 2018, Drake’s God’s plan pulled in 655.0 million audio stream.
We should go back to the first half of 2017 – when Ed Sheeran’s Form of you ruled with 354.2 million streams – to find a time when the mid-year US No.1 audio streaming record had more plays than Driving license.
All of this is particularly strange, of course, when you consider the massive growth in streaming popularity between 2017 and 2021.
Although the last MRC mid-year report do not give specific figure for the US industry’s total audio streaming volume in the first half of 2021, it reveals that this number has increased by about 15% compared to the same figure in 2020.
A previous report from MRC Data shows that on-demand audio streaming volume in the United States at mid-year was 419.8 billion in the first half of 2020 … which means we can be sure that the equivalent number in the first half of 2021 weighs about 482.8 billion.
That number of 482.8 billion, in turn, is up 80% from the total amount of on-demand audio streams recorded by MRC / Nielsen in the first half of 2018 (268.2 billion).
And yet, the number of streams accumulated by the # 1 audio streaming record in mid-year in 2018 (God’s plan, 655 m) was almost 200 million flows bigger than the biggest record of the first half of 2021 (Driving license, 460.2 m).
So what is going on?
Could anyone reasonably argue that the “death of the megahit?” story here actually has a simple explanation: Olivia Rodrigo Driving license just isn’t as popular as the other songs mentioned above. It’s a big hit, that’s for sure – it’s just not a megahit like Plan de Dieu, road to the old town, orThe box.
One could also consider the fact that the first half of 2021 was mired in Covid lockdowns (and the associated uncertainty) – not exactly ideal conditions for superstars to release a plethora of chart-topping bangers.
Still, digging deeper into the numbers suggests that the murmurs of “the death of the megahit” may actually reflect a longer-term empirical trend – rather than just a pandemic anomaly.
Below, MBW has calculated the cumulative volume of on-demand audio streams shared by the top 10 audio streaming hits in the United States in the first half of each year, according to tables by MRC Data / Nielsen Music.
As you can see, that cumulative mid-year Top 10 figure peaked in the first half of 2019 – 3.81 billion audio streams – after sustained year-over-year increases in every year. last year.
Last year, for the first time, that number dropped slightly.
And in the first half of 2021, even with Driving license doing its best to pull the market up, it fell again – this time by 17%, or a whopping 647 million reads, year over year.
Statistics of the week: The cumulative mid-year market share of the 10 best on-demand audio streaming tracks in the United States has been halved over the past three years.
In our following chart, we show how these top 10 cumulative audio stream numbers behave as a percentage of US market share. total audio streaming volume during each semester.
There is a very clear pattern.
Between the first half of 2018 (1.26%) and the first half of 2021 (0.64%), the top 10 titles in audio streaming saw their common market share in the middle of the year halved.
As catalog music dramatically increases its market share in the United States in the first half of 2021, are we seeing a dramatic shift in the makeup of the recording industry in the world’s largest market?
Or will it turn out to be more of a Covid-inspired blip, which will be fixed as some of the world’s biggest stars (Ed Sheeran and Drake included) will inevitably release hit singles in the second half of this year?
The global music rights industry – not to mention its most powerful investors – will be watching closely to find out.
Five Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy Awards, dozens of RIAA Gold and Platinum certifications, and numerous No. 1 positions on a variety of Billboard charts. His repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, TI, Sean Kingston, Anuel and hundreds more.Music trade around the world