The COVID-19 pandemic has left millions around the world house – (or apartment) bound. This has given new meaning to the term “essential businesses” when it comes to music streaming services.
Encouraged to stay indoors, music streaming services allow people to at least let their ears roam (free or not) over a vast musical landscape, bingeing on “comfort music” – favorite songs by favorite groups – or using this downtime to broaden their horizons and sample artists and musical genres new to them.
Just as there is a surfeit of viewing choices, so, too, are there endless grooves from which to choose – anywhere between a reported 10,000 songs to 45 million across the various streaming services – which, ironically, can make choosing what to listen to much more difficult.
While there has been a fluctuation in the usage of streaming services since the COVID-19 lockdown, one market data report projects the music streaming market to generate $12.4 billion this year.
Around the world, a substantial majority of music listeners are already partaking of free and premium services. According to a Nielsen Music report, 83 percent of United Kingdom residents are engaging these services. At least 70 percent are similarly engaged in Germany, Canada, and Japan.
While the country-wide shutdown is just over a month old, some interesting streaming trends have emerged. According to data analytics provided by Alpha Data, three music genres have seen an increase in streaming: Classical, folk, and children’s music. Kidz Bop, a franchise that creates a kid-friendly version of popular rock songs, has seen streaming of their music increase by roughly 10 percent, according to Buzz Angle, which studies music consumption.
With so many people working from home, another study by MRC Data and Nielsen Music finds that more than half (60 percent) of Americans are engaging with more entertainment. Roughly one-quarter have added one new subscription service and almost 40 percent added music. Of these households, those with children were most likely to do so (this helps to explain that Kids Bop boost).
With so much musical content at our fingertips, it helps, as with film and television content, to have a game plan in making the most of the music streaming experience. Here are some tips to select streaming musical content to last through the pandemic and beyond:
The greatest hits
You will find online no end of lists charting the greatest recordings of all time. Rolling Stone magazine’s website, for example, has compiled rankings of “The 500 Greatest Albums of All Time” along with the 500 Greatest Songs and 100 Greatest Singers. This is an excellent place to start filling in the holes of your music education.
A little help from your friends
Everyone knows someone who has a pipeline into the most obscure (read “coolest”) bands and singers. And what is the fun of being a fan of a band that no one’s heard of if they can’t turn on their unhip friends to the next best thing?
Social media influence
A 2018 MusicWatch study found that nearly all regular social media users on the most popular apps have some form of activity related to music or artists. Thirty percent of the study found, discovered an artist or music through a social connection. Roughly the same percentage indicated they shared songs, albums, or playlists from a streaming service to a social channel.
Make your own kind of music
Based on what you stream, some music streaming services will compile a personalized (albeit algorithm-driven) playlist of songs to which you have listened as well as deeper cuts by a favorite artist as well as artists who play the same type of music.
More enterprising DIY music streams can use this downtime to create their own digital mixtapes to serve as the soundtrack to this new normal, such as playlists for a home workout, doing jigsaw puzzles or, to encourage even further social distancing, a playlist of music by an artist your fellow quarantiner hates.