Chart Of The Week. Playlists 1, Albums 0 – How Streaming Is Changing Music Listening
The album has been under assault ever since Napster first gave consumers the ability cherry pick their favourite tracks and leave the filler behind. Apple formalised the process with the iTunes Store and in recent years streaming has hammered the nail in the coffin by supercharging the consumption shift towards playlists.
Looking at behaviours across all consumers at first glance it appears that albums are holding their own against all this disruption. 31% consumers mainly listen to playlists, 29% mainly listen to albums. Not too shabby. However streaming is still a minority activity and so these figures are diluted by the more traditional behaviours of CD buyers and music downloaders.
Music subscribers however are firmly on the transition path, with 68% mainly listening to playlists while for free streamers the rate is 45% (compared to 31% for albums).
The album is not dead, certainly not as a creative construct, but as consumption method it is losing traction among some of the most engaged music fans. Labels and artists alike need to think about how they can make the most of the new realities of music consumption rather than deny the realities of the brave new world of streaming.