What the Jingle Bell Ball tells us about pop right now

What the Jingle Bell Ball tells us about pop right now

I bring you news from the future: the streaming revolution that has turned 2016’s music business upside down may just be getting started.

I say this, because I spent the weekend before last at Capital’s excellent Jingle Bell Ball. To be honest, I went there more to rack up some Dad points with my daughter than to check out Olly Murs, but it was also an absolutely fascinating event for anyone with an interest in the modern music business.

The JBB is, essentially, a live version of a streaming playlist. It features all the big current pop names – Little Mix, Calvin Harris, Ellie Goulding.

It features no rock music at all. And it will ensure you have Dua Lipa’s Blow Your Mind (Mwah) stuck in your head for the next week.

As long as you’re singing one of the year’s biggest bangers, you’re guaranteed to go down a storm. If you’re not, well, you’d better have something else going on.

It’s quite something to watch an entire arena lose interest and get their phone out/wander off for a drink just because someone plays a single song they aren’t familiar with in a set stuffed with monster hits.

If there was a skip button, most of the (almost exclusively) teenage crowd would have pressed it.

Many execs have told Music Week that the streaming revolution means artists really have to raise the bar.

But if anyone doubted it, a few hours in the company of Britain’s teenage screamers and streamers confirms just how brutal modern music appreciation can be if you don’t press all the right buttons.

So ask not for whom the Jingle Bell tolls. It tolls for us all.

Mark Sutherland, Editor

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