Catalogue Is King

This week Rihanna tweeted her thanks to her fans for making her the most streamed female artist of 2017 on Spotify. Understandable maybe as of course she’s a global megastar. However the fact that blew my mind is that she didn’t release an album in 2017. Yes, despite having no new music at all in 2017 she was the most streamed female artist of the year. Mind blown.

This is huge. Think back to a few years ago when CD’s or digital downloads were the most popular way to consume music…this would never happen. In fact it couldn’t happen as shelves in retailers were always devoted to new releases as were the digital storefronts of iTunes etc.

If I fire up Spotify now, here’s what I see on the homepage….

5 of the 6 featured playlists that are presented when I open the app are made up of mainly catalogue (except Hot Hits UK) and there’s a very good reason for this, the public are consuming these kind of playlists like crazy. The appetite to discover or re-discover classic songs from the past few decades is just massive. One of the most popular playlists that I created at Topsify was 100 Most Uplifting Songs Ever and the consumption stats on this would regularly blow my mind.

My thinking is that this resurgence in catalogue is of course due to the availability and ease of on-demand streaming. With one click we can all now access these incredible playlists of classic songs and because we’re not paying per song or per CD then we’re more likely to explore and try new (old) music. And of course we’re all programmed to respond and listen to music that’s familiar to us so the nostalgia factor plays high in the popularity of these playlists.

Coincidentally Spotify’s Will Page published an article this week entitled. Does The Music Industry’s Definition of ‘Catalogue” Need An Upgrade? It’s an interesting read.

Side note: Taylor Swift was the second most streamed female artist in 2017. This won’t take in account her new album which she withheld and only released on Spotify a couple of weeks ago (and a subject for another blog post in itself) and also shows how popular her catalogue is given that her last album release was in 2014.

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