New Music Surpasses Classic Rock to Dominate Catalog Market – Billboard

Earlier this year, Luminate (formerly MRC Data) released its 2021 annual report, which showed that catalog music – which Billboard defines as a track older than 18 months – increased its share of overall US music consumption from 65.1% in 2020 to 69.8% last year, measured in album consumption units. The initial interpretation of this data was that, more than a year into the pandemic, listeners were winding down with nostalgia – chilling out with Fleetwood Mac, rather than blasting Doja Cat.

Catalog market share has actually increased since 2014, when sales still dominated the industry, when they accounted for just 35.8% of activity. Since then, the catalog’s popularity has steadily climbed, until its big leap last year – when consumption in the category increased by 19.3% and current music consumption fell by 3.7 % at a time when streaming continues to grow. This shift appears to be holding: In the first six weeks of 2022, the top 100 had 22 catalog tracks, up from seven in 2020, and the average age of the top 100 songs was 20 months, up from just eight months in 2020, according to a Billboard Luminate data analysis.

Most of this change was driven by on-demand audio streaming, where the catalog accounted for 70.2% of consumption in the United States in 2021. But it was boosted by TikTok, where songs of any age can go viral and get a transformative boost: In the first six weeks of 2022, Fleetwood Mac’s “Dreams” ranked 83rd among songs streamed on demand in the U.S., according to Luminate — well over a year after his spotlight on skateboarding.


Equally strikingly, the music that once dominated the catalog category, which at one time was practically defined by classic rock, now sounds much younger and more like new music than it ever has. fact. A Billboard Analysis of 2021 US on-demand streaming data provided by Luminate found that tracks released over the past 12 years account for nearly 79% of on-demand audio streaming in the US. And Drake can stream more than all the recordings released before 1980 combined.

Given that this latest catalog boost came around the same time that legacy artists like Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen sold their recording and publishing rights for record sums, it’s easy for those who don’t part of the industry to assume that this type of material is the source of these gains. This is not true, however.

“It’s a headline, but it’s not accurate” to assume that older recordings dominate the catalog category, says Kevin Gore, president of the worldwide catalog of Warner Recorded Music. “It’s best seen when you dig into it.”

A Billboard Analysis of the top 10,000 U.S. on-demand audio streaming tracks for the first six weeks of 2022 — a period in which those tracks accounted for 47.9% of total streams — shows who is now acting on the catalog. The top three artists, as measured by catalog music on-demand audio streams, are Drake, Juice WRLD and Taylor Swift. Drake has 82 catalog titles in the top 10,000; Swift has 81 and Juice WRLD has 59. (All three also have current leads.) By comparison, The Beatles have 28 and Fleetwood Mac has 15.

Some executives now refer to this type of music – released in recent years, mostly by still active artists – as “shallow catalog,” to distinguish it from the older “deep catalog.” (Billboard and Luminate don’t formally distinguish between the two.) And it appears to be driving much of the catalog’s growth — to the point of changing the financial dynamics of the industry.

The legacy artists who topped the catalog charts went nowhere. In fact, many of the catalog’s iconic songs have grown significantly in popularity: Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believin'” hit #329 in 2016 and #91 in 2021, while “Here Comes the Sun” by The Beatles, the highest-ranking song, jumped from No. 917 to No. 400. Many mainstays in the catalog have the same number of recordings among the top 10,000 streaming tracks on demand as two years ago , including Michael Jackson (17), Metallica (13), The Notorious BIG (11) and AC/DC (10) – and the number of tracks from other big bands haven’t changed much. But the growth is going to new acts. The Beatles have 28 Top 10,000 tracks, which generated 121.6 million streams in the first six weeks of 2022 – more than any other legacy act. But XXXtentacion had 30 tracks that generated 205 million streams. “Roll Over Beethoven”, indeed.

“As soon as you say ‘catalog,’ the assumption is that they’re all heritage icons and artists,” Gore explains. “But there is some really amazing, valuable content that gets cataloged just because of its age. You see Dua Lipa and Ed Sheeran and Bruno Mars – very successful tracks and albums.

The ever-artificial line between stream and catalog may be starting to blur as greatest hits stay popular longer – perhaps because playlists implicitly encourage consumers to listen to the songs for longer. . At this point, 42 of the top 200 on-demand audio tracks have been in the top 200 for over a year – and 18 have been there for over two. Among those with lasting power: Post Malone, J. Cole, Chris Stapleton, Ed Sheeran and Imagine Dragons.

In the first six weeks of 2022, the second biggest track in the catalog was The Weeknd’s “Save Your Tears,” which ranked No. 26 in on-demand streaming nearly two years after its release and one year after. having recorded the biggest gains among the top 100 streaming titles after the artist’s performance at the Super Bowl halftime. The first was “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals, originally released in June 2020 – en route to No. 1 on the Hot 100 on March 22.

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