The big music industry news that broke earlier this month was the fact that Billboard and Nielsen are now including Youtube views/streams in their process in calculating the Top 100 charts. Now I know some of you might be thinking, why Youtube? Traditional music streaming platforms like Spotify and Apple Music makes sense, but Youtube; which is mainly viewed as a platform to watch video content, may seem kinda odd to be considered a major factor in determining music charts. The fact, is that Youtube is the most “popular” (in regards to most users) platform to stream music. A 2017 report from IFPI states that out of all Youtube users, 85% went there for music; during the time the research were being conducted. That establishes that Youtube, regardless of what it was intended to be, is just as much a music streaming platform as the others.
So what does this means for artists? The jury is still out on that, however there are some pushback and controversies over the issue. Some label execs believe this move is bad for the music industry as a whole. One point, is that because Youtube is free, as opposed to paid subscriptions like Spotify and Apple Music; the numbers are a bit misleading as far as a songs validation to how hot it is. Also because of this free consumption, artists are hardly getting paid for their art. An artist has to rack up a ton of views before they can start receiving any substantial royalties, and even then, the number pales in comparisons to number of views. So basically Youtube is just padding the stats to get a chart topping single, which for a lot of artist, thats the goal anyway. Share your music (for free if you have to), rack up view, gain exposure, get a chart topping single; then make money on the back end with touring and merchandise sales. However this a method that music executives frown upon, and feels need to be change. They feel it puts too much power into streaming services, thus taking power away from the labels, and prevents artists from getting paid properly through their “music”.
Until (or if) change happens, this is the reality of the situation, and artists and the industry will have to make adjustments as always to stay competitive. Youtube now has it’s “Red” subscription, that allows users to be able to stream songs offline. This will only add to its popularity in the stream wars