They say that music is infectious but in order for anything to spread, it needs a vehicle to drive it forward. In the past, music producers, record companies and artists had to rely on the radio and then TV music stations to get their songs heard by people who would then, hopefully, purchase a record.
However, fast-forward a few decades and things have changed dramatically. Online downloads, YouTube and streaming apps have made it easier and more efficient for artists and producers like Supreme Wilder to get their voices heard. Not only that, but it's also become markedly easier for people to share their favorite tunes.
In fact, according to the latest stats from IFPI, 2014 saw digital music channels generate the same revenue as physical sales (46% each). And, thanks to a 6.9% increase in online activity, the digital music industry was worth an impressive $6.85 billion in 2014.
Playlists Helping People Share Music
Spotify is arguably the market leader with Manhattan Venture Research valuing the company at $5.74 billion in 2015. That valuation makes Spotify almost twice as valuable as its closest streaming rival, Pandora ($3.2 billion). One of the reasons for Spotify's huge growth since it launched in 2006 is its sharing functionality.
Instead of users simply listening to their favorite songs in isolation, Spotify allows people to share the latest tracks they're enjoying via their social media accounts and public playlists. These days, various companies and celebrities publish their Spotify playlists to the general public. From comedians like Jimmy Fallon to poker players such as Vanessa Selbst, and even musicians like Rihanna, everyone who is anyone now share their playlists on Spotify.
A Desire To Excel Through Musical Inspiration
Given that poker is an extremely cerebral game where every decision counts, it's little wonder that the PokerStars-sponsored pro uses music to improve her performance. According to her PokerStars playlist, Selbst draws her fierce attitude from tracks like Big Jet Plane by Angus & Julia Stone and Hospital Beds by Cold War Kids. At the other end of the spectrum, Selbst's fellow pro Andre Akkari prefers to chill out to the likes of Zeca Pagodinho's Deixa A Vida Me Levar when he's playing online.
Elsewhere, the culture of gym tracks represents a similar phenomenon. Over the last decade, people who are looking to get in shape have increasingly been turning to highly toned specimens on Instagram to find out how they exercise and what tunes they listen to when they're working out. According to Beats Music, the app by Beats by Dre, Britney Spears likes to work out to Madonna and Usher, while personal trainer Tony Horton’s Spotify playlist includes the Crystal Method and the Decembrists. Naturally, Spotify has become the medium of choice for sharing motivational gym music.
Aspiring Artists Reaching For The Clouds
Let's say you've solved the problem of output latency and created a killer Android audio track. In order to post your track to your social media accounts and generally give it some exposure, you could add your few minutes' worth of material to the 12 hours of content added to SoundCloud every minute.
And SoundCloud isn't just for people who have used an Android app like Syntheogen to make some simple drum beats. Over the last decade, a number of artists have actually launched successful careers after making it big on SoundCloud. Indeed, because the streaming platform gives an artist the ability to reach the masses without the help of a record label, performers such as the Bay Area's Kehlani and PartyNextDoor have become viral stars thanks to SoundCloud.
Discovery Broadens Horizons And Drives Sales
Spotify has allowed us to see what other people are listening to, SoundCloud has given emerging artists a platform to promote themselves and Shazam has given people the ability to discover new sounds. Originally founded in 1999, Shazam now has 100 million monthly users and more than 2 billion followers who all want to learn more about the song they just heard.
By using an Android mobile's microphone, Shazam creates a digital fingerprint for a snippet of audio. It then compares this fingerprint to its database and not only tells the user the song title and artist, but it provides them with a link to iTunes, Spotify and beyond. Essentially, what Shazam is doing is twofold. On the one hand it's broadening users' musical horizons and on the other it's helping to increase digital music sales.
A New Era For The Music Industry