Contrary to popular opinion, the increased number of Americans staying home amid the Coronavirus scare has yet to benefit music streaming services. In fact, a new report shows that social distancing and added safety measures across the globe may in fact be causing a streaming decline.
According to Alpha Data, which provides streaming data and other analytics for the Rolling Stone charts, streaming figures in the US actually saw a steep decline in the week of March 13-19th. Despite this being the same period in which many restaurants, bars, and other establishments closed for public safety, streams dropped a sizable 7.6 percent to under 20.1 BILLION.
The illuminating new report from Alpha Data reveals that on-demand streams (audio and video) dropped 7.3 percent to 16.6 BILLION, while programmed streams (ex. Pandora) dropped 9 percent to under 3.5 BILLION. Streaming also dropped among the Top 500 songs by 12.9 percent from the week before. Rolling Stone’s analysis of the report notes that declines like these are rare and usually only occur the week after Christmas.
Italy, one of the countries hit hardest by the Coronavirus, is also seeing a decline in streaming numbers. A recent study by Quartz shows that streams of the country’s Top 200 Spotify songs dropped 23 percent from Tuesday, March 3rd to Tuesday, March 17th. Daily cumulative streams of the Top 200 songs have not topped 14.4 MILION since Italy’s prime minister announced a national quarantine on March 9th. In February 2019, the daily average was 18.3 MILLION.
What these studies are unable to tell us, though, is exactly why we’re streaming less. Is it because less people are listening to music while working out, commuting to their job or getting ready for a night out on the town? Or perhaps it’s a result of record labels hitting the brakes indefinitely on marketing efforts? It’s also possible that a lack of new music videos, promotional performances (Jimmy Fallon, SNL, Ellen, etc.) and willingness to drop new music during the scare are helping contribute to these figures.
Streaming isn’t the only victim of the Coronavirus scare. Alpha Data’s study also reveals a dip in digital sales of 10.7 percent (3.9 MILLION), marking the first time this figure has dropped below 4 MILLION in the four years since they began tracking these sales. Additionally, physical sales dropped 27.6 percent while digital album sales dropped 12.4 percent.
The Weeknd‘s ‘After Hours,’ which is arguably the first major project to drop during the first wave of Coronavirus shutdowns in the US, didn’t appear to be phased by the virus. The project earned over 60 MILLION Spotify streams its first day and is projected to move over 400k copies in its first week. Meanwhile, the single “Blinding Lights” is currently doing major numbers on Global Spotify with a high of 8.45 MILLION streams on Friday, March 20th.
Only time will tell how the Coronavirus affects other projects both big and small on streaming. While the virus will likely cause many album delays (HAIM‘s ‘Women in Music Pt. III’ being one already), the pandemic is also encouraging some artists to take creative risks that redefine the “proper” album cycle. Take Dua Lipa for example, who just moved up the release date of her sophomore album, ‘Future Nostalgia’ to Friday, March 27th despite not knowing what the next few months will have in store:
.@DuaLipa pushes forward the release of her sophomore album, ‘Future Nostalgia,’ to THIS Friday – March 27 – amid the Coronavirus pandemic:
“I hope it brings you some happiness, and I hope it makes you smile, and I hope it makes you dance. I hope I make you proud.” pic.twitter.com/tZOCZTnSSo
— Pop Crave (@PopCrave) March 23, 2020
Troye Sivan is also making the best of the Coronavirus scare. After jokingly (or not jokingly) teasing that he was going to leak his own music, Sivan put out a public call to freelance artists to help him launch his next era. Unable to put together his own music videos and other promo materials for the indefinite future, Sivan has found a way to crowdsource his album launch while doubling down on fan engagement.
Sivan recently shared the lyric sheet for his new single, “Take Yourself Home” which was created by visual artist @lanning on Instagram:
View this post on Instagram
Take Yourself Home – April 1. lyric sheet by @lanning, sourced through instagram ?
It’ll be interesting to see how Lipa‘s ‘Future Nostalgia’ and Sivan‘s “Take Yourself Home” fare in streaming and pure sales as the US continues to put measures in place to fight the Coronavirus. Let’s hope these projects are enough of a success to encourage other artists to keep their original release schedules (we’re looking at you, Gaga).
Do you think the Coronavirus will have a major impact on streaming services? Share your thoughts with us on Twitter at @PopCrave!