For the year of 2022, the number of on-demand audio streams in America alone was 1.1 trillion – up 12.1% on the previous year. It’s fair to say that music is now, in being so easily accessible in just about any location, listened to and enjoyed by more people and more frequently than it ever has been before.
Whilst that may seem like obvious news, the great discovery to be found within it, is that the highest-profile acts of the mainstream industry are simultaneously becoming distinctly less popular.
That’s right – the top 10 biggest hits in America (from acts like Harry Styles, Dua Lipa, etc) accounted for just 4.7 billion plays across platforms like Spotify, YouTube Music, Apple and Amazon. This means the remaining trillion+ streams were shared among the less renowned artists and bands; AKA, the smaller and, for the most part, independently-supported creatives. Hurrah!
Could it be then, that given the overwhelming rise of platforms like Netflix, Spotify and TikTok, the mainstream realms of scheduled television and radio are beginning to finally have less impact on the naturally free-thinking civilians of the modern world? Damn right!
If we look back just a few years, for 2017’s statistics, one in every 100 audio streams was a top-ten track. That number is now far closer to one in every 250, and with the continued and even exponential growth of the indie realm, of so many sub-genres and indie-famous groups residing and thriving within it, surely we’re on the verge of seeing a level and fair playing field within music?
The good news still doesn’t say much on behalf of the funds earned by songwriters and artists for their increasing streams, but that’s something most hardworking creatives have remained vastly aware of when carving out their ambitious plans for a lengthy and sustainable career. In time, hopefully, the funds will follow.
Until then, we can all appreciate and even celebrate the fact that our favourite artists are making it big – it’s just that ‘big’ means something very different right now; and perhaps that’s a good thing. Your best-kept musical secrets can remain feeling that way, yet still reach a significant enough audience to continue putting out content and music for the rest of our time.
Everybody wins, and nobody needs the extravagant award shows and obsessive paparazzi to reinforce their own ego anymore.
So, whatever you’re doing, as an indie artist or a fan, you’re doing it right – keep it up! Support the bands who matter to you, don’t worry about top tens or checking in with the big-wigs at the BBC or wherever your grandparents get their societal updates – enjoy life under the radar, and with a little perseverance and further good luck on our sides, the future should be incredibly bright for independent music.
Header Photo by Pixabay.