Music streaming platforms have been unpleasantly surprised by an 11 percent drop during the last week. Those in the streaming industry had been expecting a surge in users because so many people are being made to stay in their homes to curtail the spread of COVID-19. Unexpectedly, Spotify and Pandora did not benefit from social distancing in the way that Netflix, Amazon Prime, and HBO did. One can speculate that people use music when on the go and the epidemic is forcing people to go nowhere.
Over the week between Friday, March 13th and Thursday, March 19th, there were 1.822 billion streams, 226 million fewer than the week before. This is the lowest number of streams since January 3rd, when the number of streams only reached 1.779 billion. A significant drop is normal during the early days in January, as the holiday season comes to an end.
Another reason for the drop is that there have been very few new album releases. Right now, the Top 10 of Billboard’s Hot 100 Chart doesn’t include any newly-released singles. The lack of streaming in clubs, bars, restaurants, and stores also contributes to the drop.
Interestingly, streaming of music videos, for both Apple and YouTube, actually increased in number, by 1.3%. It would seem that quarantined people are craving visual media more than audio-only content, which supports the notion that they use audio-only music when moving around.
Those in the music industry have been hurting due to cancellations of their live performances. Musicians have become ever more reliant on live performances for their income and streaming services are their way to reach out to fans. Evan Greer, a folk musician, started a popular online petition requesting that Spotify triple royalty rates to artists. Because musicians are receiving fewer streams on Spotify and because they’ve lost the income from gigs, Greer says, “This is a moment when Big Tech companies need to do their part to help.” Seeing as streaming services owe their entire business to musicians, this seems fair.