The key to the lockdown: How the coronavirus crisis is impacting listening habits

The music industry may have dealt with a lot since Napster first disrupted its business model, but it’s never had to deal with anything like this. In just a few short weeks, the coronavirus pandemic has shifted a booming industry ...

What the 'broken record' streaming debate means for the music biz

One thing about all this time in isolation is, it gives you plenty of time to think. Forcing the music world indoors at a time when we would normally be wading through mud to watch bands at festivals has led to much pondering, as predicted in this column a month ago, about the state of the recorded music business model. The Ivors Academy and Musicians’ Union have launched the Keep Music Alive campaign, calling on the UK government to review the functioning of the streaming market – with the aim of getting songwriters and artists more money. It's gained plenty of traction on social media under the Broken Record hashtag and, in his Music Week Viewpoint on the subject, Ivors Academy CEO Graham Davies highlighted what he sees as "a disconnect between perceptions that all are benefiting from the huge riches streaming brings, with the reality that many music makers need hardship support". ERA, representing the streaming companies, responds by pointing out that you don’t fix a ‘broken record’ by smashing up the record player. The labels, having finally returned to growth after years of decline, are keeping a low profile but, privately, executives note how easy it is to under-estimate record companies’ contribution to breaking records and artists. After all, over 20 years after the Napster revolution, how many global superstars – or even successful mid-tier acts – have genuinely come through without label backing? The trouble with this argument is, nobody's completely wrong, but that doesn't mean somebody's completely right Music Week You see, the trouble with this argument is, nobody’s completely wrong, but that doesn’t mean somebody’s completely right. Artists and songwriters deserve more money from streaming, but that doesn’t necessarily mean DSPs or record companies deserve less. Spotify, rightly or wrongly often in the firing line over this debate, can afford to pay Joe Rogan $100 million for his podcast, the argument goes, so why can't it pay the musicians that built its business, currently valued on the stockmarkets at over $30 billion, more money? Yet Spotify is not yet a consistently profitable business – and might never become one if it has to distribute more than the 65-70% of revenues it already sends the way of rights-holders. And, given that the more time people spend listening to podcasts, the fewer royalties the streaming company pays to musicians, would artists and songwriters getting a bigger slice of the pie make further Rogan-style deals more likely, or less? The coronavirus crisis has added urgency to the creatives’ cause as revenues in other areas dry up, but it has also increased the need for cross-industry cooperation. As our lockdown analysis in the new issue of Music Week, available now, shows, music remains essential to the public even during the biggest crisis. And the music business, too, continues to function well despite unprecedented external disruption to its operations. So by all means let’s have an honest review of the streaming model, as long as it incorporates everything from subscription pricing to user-centric models, a path for streaming companies to make money, and a look at label deal structures alongside marketing costs (personally, I'd prefer to see the music industry work it out amongst themselves rather than involve the government, but that's by the by). But let’s also remember that everyone in this business needs everyone else in order to make a living. Some things may need fixing, but if there’s going to be a bright future, we need to make sure music industry unity isn’t broken in the process. * To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

Charts analysis: DaBaby extends lead at No.1

Increasing its sales by an impressive 28%, Rockstar by DaBaby featuring Roddy Ricch further extends its lead over the competition to spend a second week at the top of the charts, bringing to a halt the churn of the last month or so. Making the top of the market look slightly healthier than it has in recent weeks, the single posted 57,429 chart sales last week, of which 55,093 were from sales-equivalent streams. It was pointed out to me in the week that Rockstar has become something of a charmed title for hit singles in recent years. This is the fourth different song of that name since 2007 during which time it has produced a brace of No.2 hits (for Nickelback in 2007 and Dappy/Brian May in 2012) and now a pair of chart-topping singles, (the other by Post Malone/21 Savage in 2017). Rockstar is still one of only a small handful of titles to be attached to two entirely different No.1 singles, although the 21st century has seen more than its fair share of them. In the past 20 years Let's Dance, Sorry, Closer, Promises, Sing, Diamonds, Burn, I Don't Care, Hello, Perfect, River, and now Rockstar have all been added to the list of No.1 hits using recycled song titles.  There genuinely was no chart race to speak of this week, so everyone else must content themselves with lining up some distance behind. Say So by Doja Cat rebounds back to its No.2 peak (37,026 sales), Toosie Slide by Drake down to No.3 (36,854 sales), and there is a new peak for Rover by S1mba featuring DTG which jumps 8-4 on 35,594 sales. The singles chart overall is going through one of its periodic periods of becalming. This week's Top 10 singles are identical to last, save for some reshuffling of the pack. Those not so far mentioned: Death Bed by Powfu featuring Beabadoobee (No.5, 35,282 sales), Savage by Megan Thee Stallion (No.6, 30,483 sales), Blinding Lights by The Weeknd (No.7, 29,352 sales), Stuck With U by Ariana Grande and Justin Bieber (No.8, 28,955 sales), Dinner Guest by AJ Tracey featuring MoStack (No.9, 27,127 sales) and finally Gooba from 6ix9ine (No.10, 23,746 sales). A notable riser in a market of fallers is Breaking Me by Topic featuring A7S, the German/Swedish collaboration breaking into the Top 20 at No.15 (20,700 sales) whilst Don't Need Love from 220 Kid & Gracey also rises to a new peak of No.20 (19,214 sales). There are also solid sales and corresponding chart jumps for Secrets by Regard & Raye (45-30, 13,083 sales) and Party Girl from StaySolidRocky (53-34, 11,973 sales). The highest new entry of the week is technically a re-entry. Watermelon Sugar by Harry Styles has already enjoyed a notable chart run, wandering as high as No.17 in November last year when first issued as a teaser for his Fine Line album. Clearly there were always bigger plans for the track and it has now been upgraded to full single release status with its official video debuting online during the week. The resultant boost of interest propels the song back onto the chart at No.35 (11,729 sales) to rejoin its predecessors Adore You and Falling which still linger at 17 and 21 respectively. Two places below we finally find the first actual brand-new hit of the week. Daisies is what we are told is the first official single from Katy Perry's forthcoming sixth studio album. As the most high-profile release of the week it is hard to escape the feeling this could have been bigger, landing at a mere No.37 with 11,591 sales although at a stroke it beats the peak of her last two singles Small Talk and Harleys In Hawaii which both fell short of the Top 40. Overall it is the singer's 31st chart hit. The Coronavirus pandemic put paid to last weekend's planned Eurovision Song Contest, fully cancelled for the first time in its history, but based on public chatter it is not unreasonable to assume that Iceland's Dadi Freyr would have emerged somewhere near the top of the scoreboard. Certainly the British public have voted with their ears and so his song Think About Things sweeps majestically onto the chart at No.43 (10,787). Of the planned British entry My Last Breath by James Newman there is no sign, although it does post its highest chart sale (2,258) since its release 11 weeks ago even if this is some way short of the numbers needed to register its first chart position. Other new arrivals this week: Solitaires from Future featuring Travis Scott, a cut from his High Off Life album (No.59, 8,182 sales), Lose Somebody from Kygo and OneRepublic (No.65, 7,795 sales) and Surrender from Natalie Taylor (No.75, 6,405 sales) which was first released in 2015 but now surfaces as a chart single after gaining popularity as a TikTok accompaniment. Singles sales are up 3.37% week-on-week and stand at 21,235,727. Paid-for sales however take a plunge, down 3.31% to 581,506 to hit a seven-week low.  * Click here to access the full range of Music Week's charts data. To make sure you can access Music Week wherever you are, subscribe to our digital issue by clicking here.

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Sound of lockdown: BMG's Alistair Norbury on how labels & publishers are working during the pandemic

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