Grandpa, what’s an album?
Forget about 25 or 1989. Because those are extreme exceptions to a totally new rule, which is that most music fans never listen to complete albums. And the proof is in the data: according to the results of a study now disclosed by Universal Music Group, a vast majority of Spotify listeners never finish an album front-to-finish, much less start one.
More specifically, fewer than 10 percent of Spotify ‘freemium’ users have listened to even one album in the last month. “Based on research that we did at Universal a year and a half ago, we looked at free users, we looked at their album listening habits within a one month period, and we found that fewer than 10% of them listened to an album in full within that period,” said Justin Barker, a former UMG employee during Music Ally’s ‘List for Life’ symposium (full discussion here).
“That’s something everybody’s got to wake up to.”
Most artists are getting the post-digital memo, with drip-drip release strategies designed to puncture the monstrous media noise-wall. Indeed, hip-hop has long been a frontrunner in this category, with streams of mixtapes and guest appearances peppering awareness between more formal album ‘drops’ since the 90s.
EDM is also a firmly post-album genre, though all of this begs the question: is the playlist the evolutionary replacement? “We’ve never had access to more music… but in playlists, it’s resurfacing back catalogue that has potentially never been monetized before,” Sammy Andrews, MD of Sabotage New Media, noted during the same panel. “I don’t think the album is dead by any means: a few albums this year have proved that. But we are maybe consuming differently, and entering albums in different ways than before.”
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