If People Have Access to Millions of Songs, Why Do the Charts Look Like This?

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28 Responses

  1. GGG

    Uh…because these acts have about a billion more dollars of marketing behind them?

    There’s always going to be huge, ubiquitous acts, streaming won’t change that. There’s a million places to buy shit online, everyone still goes to Amazon.

    • Anonymous

      The problem is that people don’t pay for music. Which means that the industry doesn’t have any money left for experiments and, dare I say the word, art.

      Instead, it needs to invest in hits — and hits only. This is just the beginning…

      • GGG

        Eh, there’s certainly something to be said about less profits for labels, but any major could market 2 or 3 acts very well for the price of trying to push one mediocre pop star to Top 40.

        • TMQB

          Not billions of promotion dollars, but many, many accounts streaming the material on behalf of the labels. We had a #1 on Rhapsody for 5 weeks before Rhapsody completely removed the artist- perhaps because it was messing with their system. No received no notification when it was removed and still have no idea why.

          ANYTHING that is charting on the streaming services is charting because rooms full of interns working for the major labels are streaming the releases of artists on those labels.

          How does Iggy Azalea suddenly show up on the charts when no one knows who this artist is? Because overnight, interns can cause her to chart.

          In radio, this was sort of like the fake call-in campaigns ‘creating phone-line request activity’ facetiously by promotion staffs trying to get their records played.

          • JTVDigital

            Yeah major labels are hiring hundreds of unpaid interns to stream their songs, hahaha…

  2. Chris H

    Pretty Simple, people for the most part, seek out what they know. What their friends know. Especially teenagers…so you can, like, stay, in the know.

      • GGG

        Yea, which pretty much everyone on this site (at least us argumentative commenters) has agreed on, so not sure what the point of this “article” is. You just say this same thing a new way once a month.

  3. Nissl

    The same stuff is the most popular across multiple digital access points, no surprise. How do you think the charts should look? I guess you’re disappointed it’s mostly relatively disposable tween/young teen-targeted pop nobody will care about in a few years? Been that way for decades. That demo has the most free time to listen to and discuss music, and they’re probably the biggest web users as well. Their taste for easily digestible hooky songs about love delivered by pretty young people probably isn’t going to change. It doesn’t mean there isn’t plenty of stuff going on outside the purview of top 40. I will concede that this has been a particularly kiddie-feeling summer for top 40.

    Also don’t forget mainstream radio is still a huge piece of the puzzle, and the majors still have a stranglehold on it. The occasional viral (and/or borderline pornographic) Youtube video aside, you pretty much need it if you want to break through into popular conversation. Look at the way Macklemore took off after doing his radio deal.

    Also there’s some evidence that blockbuster effects are becoming more pronounced than ever in this era. Partly just because people are struggling to keep finding cultural commonalities, partly because there’s so much available that we don’t have time for everything outside of a few niches we each select. I know I’m guilty of mostly just paying attention to the big hits in other artforms I don’t have time to follow closely, like movies.

  4. Cmonbro

    People dont want a million choices.. they want a few good choices…

  5. Me

    Also, some of the artists on these lists also have the advantage of also starring on major television shows (Nicki Minaj on American Idol, Adam Levine on The Voice, Ariana Grande (Sam & Cat and other Nickelodeon shows),

  6. Versus

    If you were trying to make the point about music conformity, these charts do not reveal that; of course different charts will show similar successful music at the same time. Rather, you should show how the same few artists dominate the charts over time.

    For example, this study shows the decline in song diversity on the charts:
    The Whitburn Project: One-Hit Wonders and Pop Longevity

  7. Anonymous

    because thats what people want and that is whats popular!

    its not easy to accept your music just plain sucks and no one likes it. I’ve had to swallow that pill and adapt to the reality that if i want anything to do with music ever i need to do it for the self satisfaction it brings me. Lots of other artists etc. will likely have to do the same in the near future…

  8. Patrice Lazareff

    Nothing new under the sky. Years before the internet, any music store owner would already tell you that 95% of its revenue comes from 5% of the catalog.

    Is it the public or does this mean that many songs do not deserve to be recorded ?

  9. JTVDigital

    Because people listen to what they are told to listen to.
    Thanks to millions of $ invested in marketing/brainwashing by major record labels…”simple” and efficient.

  10. hippydog

    There is now a weird disconnect between the tastemakers of before and the new digital world..

    at one time it was mainly word of mouth interspersed with some industry connected , who then got the attention of the powerful people (moguls)..
    IE: kids would talk to each other then someone in the industry would find out and take it the rest of the way..

    THEN more industry moguls started controlling the scene.. (taking out the local tastemakers)

    Then it became the labels

    the disconnect has happened because the labels are no longer really in control, but the old style tastemakers are not connecting with the mainstream either..

    IE: up until the 80’s it was the dance hall mangers and “DJ’s” that found the trends.. Then the labels took over.. and now we have no “middle men”.. The ‘local’ scene is not connecting, and the international one is broken.

  11. TuneHunter

    Industry that lost ability to sell music is grooming LIVE INCOME workhorses.
    Only mega stars can bring big enough cash to sustain leftovers of the industry.

    Very unfair environment to thousands of brilliant musicians!

  12. Blahblahah

    Ooh, ooh, I know! It looks like that because kids and adults who aren’t seriously into music will listen to the same crappy pop song OVER and OVER again. Been that way forever.

  13. Dave Marcello

    Co-founder of MusicBox here (http://www.mymusicbox.me/) – THANK YOU for this. It supports an argument we’ve been making for quite some time, that MORE does not equal BETTER. For fans, access to these huge bloated libraries don’t really help discovery, especially indie/undiscovered artists. For artists, it just means you’re yelling into a room of millions, along with millions of your competitors. The socially acceptable, mass-liked artists will always show up on these types of platforms.

    • GGG

      1) Making all tracks available isn’t supposed to be a discovery tool. It is what it is, so when you discover something elsewhere you can go listen to it/more. I know plenty of people in bands, besides the ones I work with, that 99.9% of the world has never heard of but they have tracks on Spotify with tens of thousands or even a couple hundred thousand plays. That access would not be available otherwise.

      2) Spotify CAN be a great discovery tool if you play through playlists. Although I’m sure I hear them out and about, since I don’t listen to the radio, I consciously hear top 40 songs from Spotify’s top lists. I’ve found stuff on other lists, as well. If you open yourself to it, it’s a perfectly good tool. Is it the best? I dunno, depends what you’re looking for I guess.

  14. JR

    I think numbers can create a false impression. Most of these heavy acts register on charts because they spike, a month ago there were other massive hits and six months before that yet another group of songs. The truth, and this is borne out by catalog sales, is that many of these acts will not endure, no one is really listening to Jay Z’s first record or Minaj’s. The labels of old called enduring acts “evergreen”. They had an internal chart of albums, that despite lack of promotion, would still sell and keeping up with demand was important to their bottom line, much more so than the hot acts. They had a stream of income that never quit. The Beatles or The Doors might not be charting, but they are routinely accessed every day and I daresay every minute of every day by someone. Bands like The Cars I still hear everyday as I go from store to store. Longevity may not be the flavor of the day, but it is the flavor of the decade.

  15. FarePlay

    It’s true, most people aren’t into looking for stuff and as a result end-up actually listening to the same stuff over and over. For the people who comment here, many of whom know a lot of music, a Spotify service could be interesting for a while, but ultimately the same thing will happen to them.

    But now we have a perception problem. The streaming sites have it all, so why buy anything? Spotify was created out of a piracy mindset and that’s the problem. Piracy was created so everyone could get whatever they wanted for free, there was no rhyme or reason, free was their marketing and it worked very well. There was no need for a marketing plan, because it was just a scam.

    All they needed was the alphabet.