“Has streaming made it harder to find new music?” The Guardian asks

U.K. news website The Guardian posted an article today by journalist asking the question, “Has streaming made it harder to find new music?”

Petridis writes, “We live in a world where music has never been more abundant, or available. As has frequently been pointed out, the rise of streaming in its multifarious forms essentially means the entire history of popular music is available, free, at the touch of a button. We have more-or-less eradicated obscurity: even if something is too recherché for Spotify or Apple Music, the likelihood is that someone will have ripped it from somewhere – radio, tape, vinyl – and uploaded it to YouTube.

“One theory that’s gained traction recently is that music is now so abundant as to be completely overwhelming in its availability, and that listeners, faced with everything at once, are increasingly playing it safe and sticking with the tried-and-tested.

“That theory would explain both the tiny handful of current artists who seem to have a stranglehold on the album charts – despite the statistic that says 60,000 new tracks a day are uploaded to one streaming service alone, only one or two new artists a year join the stranglehold ranks – and the fact that around half of said album chart is invariably made up of greatest hits collections by a small clique of “heritage” acts… Presenting the public with infinite options hasn’t broadened tastes, goes said argument – it’s actively narrowed them.”

“In 2022,” he notes, “it seems, the most effective way of promoting music is to get it placed on a TV show, film or advertisement – a notion bolstered by an unexpected spate of renewed interest in Gerry Rafferty’s “Right Down the Line,” which went from dimly remembered 1978 album track to Gen Z favourite overnight after it was used multiple times in the latest season of US teen drama Euphoria.

“The people whose job it is to place music on soundtracks thus wield a degree of sway over public taste unimaginable by even the most high-profile rock critic or radio programmer in their respective medium’s heyday.

He argues, “Streaming encourages a kind of decontextualised discovery. It’s a world where albums are less important than single tracks, where you’re encouraged to focus not on the artist, but the song; where music is served up with any accompanying visuals relegated to a tiny corner of the screen; where historical context, image, subcultural capital – all the other stuff that was once part of the package – no longer really matters…”

It’s an interesting piece!  Read the full article here.

Kurt Hanson

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