The Ever Changing Game of Music Consumption | Feature

Where is the future of Music Heading?

There was a time -many eons ago- where music fans prided owning their music. Your great taste music wasn’t official until a collection was displayed on your mantle for everyone to see. But with streaming services taking over all forms of entertainment, with its ability to be there right at your fingertips, any time you want it to be, it’s no surprise that the way music is released has now changed.

A prime example of the changing times would be the album of the year nominations at the Grammys. Two of the records – H.E.R’s self-titled debut and Cardi B’s Invasion of Privacy, both weren’t released in the form of physical CDs in the US. The first time since 1984.

The Physical Copy

Indicating the aforementioned lack of interest in owning music. Shelf space available for music in supermarkets seemed to shrink in the past few years. There was a time in recent times when the ownership of physical copies became trendy – with the vinyl revival. But 2018 brought the loss of gusto as far as vinyl are concerned. The decline of physical forms of music continued as 2018 saw just 32 million CDs sold. A 100 million drop in comparison to a decade ago.

But while CD’s, vinyl and everything tangible about music seemed to plateau, the online presence of the same music saw growth by leaps and bound. A growth which has only continued.  With a total of 91 billion songs played across services like Spotify, Apple Music and its various competitors, streaming accounted for nearly two-thirds – or 63.6%- of music consumption in the UK.

Stream, Stream, Stream.

Increasing popularity of on-demand music seemed to perfectly compensate for the drop in CD sales as 142.9 million albums were streamed or downloaded. With this came the fastest in UK music consumption since the late 1990s. Boasting an equal amount of growth where revenue was concerned. The US isn’t far behind either, sitting poised to record a second consecutive year of growth in the music industry. Overall, music streaming as of last year, had 100 million paying subscribers worldwide.

Moving from the business and statistics side of things to the people behind the music – aka the musicians. We’ve seen an increase in inclusivity, chart-topping and bingeing. Genres like K-pop were able to take over the world through accessibility. You can listen to music from any corner of the world at the push of a button. Artists also find it easier to top charts and hold that position for a great amount of time with help of on-demand services.

Whereas in the old days they would fight their way up the charts, be at number one for a blink of an eye before disappearing once again. Now artists like Ed Sheeran, Taylor Swift, Drake and Beyoncé all have achieved massive chart success through these services. Which in a way, allows fans of an artist to binge on each individual favourite musician. Boosting their position on the charts.


Using the appeal of “its available whenever and wherever  you want” they entice impatient music consumers. Pulling them further into it with exclusivity deals which offers ad-free listening with other perks at a seemingly affordable subscription price. Streaming services have changed the way people want to hear music. As more and more such services crop up, this trend seems like one that will stay.

Words by Malvika Padin

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