Forget about the next discovery breakthrough app for a moment. What if most music fans really aren't that motivated to discover new stuff? Of course, radio stations tend towards mindless repetition, and homogeneity with other radio stations. But the strange part is that music fans typically behave the same way – even given infinite choice and endless options to do otherwise. For example, access to the entire collection of recorded music, with little-to-no-cost (or strings) attached.
Which raises the question: is there really something to unlock, at least beyond the niche fanatic? Because whether spoon-fed (ie, radio), on-demand (YouTube, Spotify), or a-la-carte (iTunes), the resulting meals seem very similar.
Here's a look at the ten most-played songs across terrestrial radio, Spotify, iTunes, and Youtube in the United States. Across 40 potential slots, we found just 16 different artists and 20 different songs.
Here's the stunningly-homogenous look.
ben Thursday, May 31, 2012
This is pointless, as the majority of people are still going to be finding out about music from tv and the radio, so they will then just go and search these services for what they here. For this to proove anything you would have to cut access to radio and tv completely and then see what they listen too.
These apps or services only provide people with the chance to listen to music for free or next to nothing and possibly find out about artists related to ones they already like.
Most fans of real music, don't listen to the radio and when they use these services they look for the artists they already know.
From personal experience I find most my music through the web - sites like stereogum and Aux, through music blogs, or from the local scene and occasionally from youtube. Then when I use spotify I look for the artists I already know.
How would someone really use these apps to find out about something completely new??
Julio Muniz Thursday, May 31, 2012
It has always been this way and theres no reason to change. It's impossible for everybody to be a programmer, people want to be entertained
Mike S Thursday, May 31, 2012
How is this different from any other time in history? I have extremely eclectic taste. A friend of mine is the same way. Our other friends refer to us as "music geeks." What that says to me is the average person doesn't really listen to a lot of different music. A minority do.
Also, the music you are highlighting is called POP(ular) for a reason. Pop music is pop music- designed for sales. They craft this stuff in studios the same way chemists came up with high fructose corn syrup.
Here's an illustrative story. My wife says my father-in-law always had music around for the family to listen to. I asked what he liked, and she said he liked what was popular. If an album was a hit, he bought it, and he bought all the hit albums. This pretty much explains the phenomenon in a nutshell. If only eight albums were smashing successes in a given year, that guy would only buy eight albums.
David Thursday, May 31, 2012
Of course the top handful of popular tracks at any given time are going to be much the same, on any mass audience 'channel'. What else would you expect? Do you suppose that Justin Bieber will be popular on the radio, while, say, Frank Zappa is top of the charts on a streaming service?
This really doesn't tell us very much about the uniformity of listening habits on different media. It would be more revealing to look at the number of different tracks being listened to, and the statistical variance of the number of listeners. I would guess (but have no evidence) that there will be more diversity on streaming services simply because terrestrial 'hit-based' radio stations have very limited playlists while streaming services don't.
Central Scrutinizer Friday, June 01, 2012
Good explanation bad example. Zappa Family Trust/Zappa.com is 100% DIY and does not license to itunes or spotify. King Crimson is the same. Whether this is a good distribution choice would be a good question to ask.
How about it Paul, can you call Gail Zappa or Robert Fripp and ask them how it's working out for them?
Deke Thursday, May 31, 2012
Looks like a mixture of Top 40/Hot AC which are the two biggest music formats at terrestrial and the most prone to turnover. Fans of those formats plough through music like speed daters at a singles bar ... no pun intended.
@johnbaltz Friday, June 01, 2012
Either music fans are boring or we need to change the definition of "music fan"
@scafidi Friday, June 01, 2012
Why does radio play boring homogeneity? Because music fans love boring homogeneity.
@georgeowhiteIII Friday, June 01, 2012
The most popular songs are popular everywhere. That's how popularity is defined.
mdti Friday, June 01, 2012
Where is the data about the audience of the radios that the article mentions ? what age especially....
You that, at a certain point in life, it's all about fashion and groups, so you either have the attributes of those groups, or you are out of the tribe.
A few years laters, it is not the same situation (but demographics decrease big time). hence the point about "who is the audience" of the 3 pictured radio playlists ?
Paul Friday, June 01, 2012
That's the top level radio ranking in the US, you can see it posted on Billboard's main site. Nielsen BDS is the source.
AA Friday, June 01, 2012
This tells us as much as the fact that the most popular ice cream flavor is vanilla. While these songs, and vanilla, may do what is necessary to qualify as "most popular" at any given moment, they are not likely to actually express the true preferences or be the most favored choice of any of the individuals that make up the mass audience. The common term for this is "lowest common denominator."
Versus Friday, June 01, 2012
Was pop music always so inane, vulgar, and boring, or has it gotten worse?
(I never really listened to pop past or present, so my occasional experiences do not clarify the answer to this pressing question).
Mike27 Saturday, June 02, 2012
50 years ago, there were plenty of inane pop songs, certainly with the potential to be boring... yet there seemed a much greater variety. There were far fewer stations (mostly AM) but they featured dozens of new songs every week. Of course, in those days the DJs were music lovers who had some discretion in choosing what to play, within limits. But I'd stack the cheesiest 60s bubblegum tune against almost anything I hear on the radio today, and the oldie would come out way ahead in terms of song structure, musicianship, etc.
Or maybe I'm just a grumpy old codger.
pop music is dead Saturday, June 02, 2012
I don't know if quality has changed that much, C'mon we are talking about pop music.
However, 60 years ago when the music biz was starting to market music as product for teen and preteen consumption at the very least it seemed like you would hear a new sound, a new song structure or a new trend every couple years that would keep people interested. Now it seems like there is nothing new now or about to come for years .......maybe never.
You really have to dig into those millions of songs to find something that does immediately remind you of something you have already heard
POP MUSIC MORTE Saturday, June 02, 2012
I meant does NOT immediately remind youof something else
Versus Monday, June 04, 2012
P.S. Just a follow-on ramble:
Is (popular) music even about music anymore?
When was the last time instrumental music was popular? Probably the jazz/swing era.
Notice how much louder vocals are mixed now than in previous decades.
So: popular "music" seems to be more and more only about the beat, the inane lyrical content, and of course the non-musical factors like meat dresses, "shocking" and "transgressive" videos, and, if all else fails, "accidently" leaked sex tapes.
One factor is certainly the decline in music education. Hence the oversimplification of popular music.
Compare to a time when, say, Pink Floyd was at the top of the charts. Go earlier, to bebop. Or go further back, when Duke Ellington's music - mostly instrumental - was considered popular.
(Of course, there is brilliant, sophisticated, deep music being created now, perhaps more than ever, it's just that now it is considered alternative or underground, and almost never touches the popular charts).
Just Another Voice Tuesday, June 05, 2012
There have been plenty of instrumental hits in popular music history ..
Cliffs of Dover - Eric Johnson 1990 - won a grammy and charted in the top five nationally. The Theme from Mission Impossible by Clayton and Mullen from U2 charted in 1999. Instrumental pop was esp popular during the late 50s to mid 60s. There have been no instrumental pop cuts that have charted since 99 I believe.
As to Dark Side of the Moon - while immensely popular as an album on the sales charts over the years, only the radio edit of Money ever managed to crack the TOP 20 of radio airplay in 73/74.
Re music education. We'll have to disagree there too. Nearly every musician I've worked with in the past 15 years as a promoter has some level of music education in their background. All three of my children had exceptional music programs in their public schools from grade school thru high school. They are now 22-32 yrs old.
Versus Friday, June 01, 2012
So much for the dream of the Long Tail.
@christianward Friday, June 01, 2012
What to make of this?
@omacadams Friday, June 01, 2012
We all like to think music fans crave the new and unusual. The truth, however....
@mattscheidler Friday, June 01, 2012
Before you complain about radio playing the same songs over and over...
@mediajorge Saturday, June 02, 2012
Same as it ever was...
@steffanlykke Monday, June 04, 2012
Endeløs adgang til musik, men vi lytter alle til det samme!
@gimlesoundtjek Monday, June 04, 2012
Vil den gennemsnitlige musikforbruger ikke udfordres, men bare underholdes?
Just Another Voice Monday, June 04, 2012
I book for small muni-events and clubs ... guess which I get a higher return on?
If you're over 40 you haven't bought NEW music in 15 years.
If you're over 50 it's been 25 years .. and like my friends you're still listening to Abbey Road and Dark Side of the Moon.
Want adventurous music? Trust the 25-34 post college set. ;) j/
dogmatic Tuesday, June 05, 2012
If you are over 40 and haven't bought "NEW" music in 15 years then you are either lazy or not a true fan of music.
You need to interact a little bit more and find the new music worth buying because it is out there