MBW’s Stat Of The Week is a series in which we highlight a single data point that deserves the attention of the global music industry. Stat Of the Week is supported by Cinq Music Group, a technology-driven record label, distribution, and rights management company.
It was inevitable, but it’s no less eye-popping: approximately 100,000 fresh tracks are now being uploaded to music streaming platforms every day.
That’s according to two of the most influential figures in the modern music business: Universal Music Group CEO and Chairman, Sir Lucian Grainge, plus the outgoing CEO of Warner Music Group, Steve Cooper.
Addressing the Music Matters conference in Singapore on September 27, Grainge said that 100,000 tracks were now being “added to music platforms every day”.
He argued that this vast volume of music, plus additional “associated content” on social platforms, is making it increasingly difficult for artists to break through to a substantial audience online.
Therefore, suggested Grainge, record companies – with their ability to market, promote and develop artists – are only becoming more critical to musicians’ careers.
Steve Cooper, speaking at the Goldman Sachs Communicopia event on September 12, said: “Today, on any given day of the week, roughly 100,000 tracks of music are uploaded to SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple, [and] so on.
“The complexity of being able to separate one’s music from the other 99,999 tracks uploaded that day is incredibly complex [and] incredibly difficult.”
Cooper suggested that the emergence of Web3 platforms would add to that complexity for artists, due to the “interactivity required to bring a creator to prominence and to keep [them] prominent”.
The WMG exec added: “Most creators don’t have the capital, the skill levels, [or] the expertise to do all of that and be successful.” As such, Warner is looking at Web3 as a “tremendous opportunity” to further assert its role in helping artists to get noticed, said Cooper.
“Today, on any given day of the week, roughly 100,000 tracks of music are uploaded to SoundCloud, Spotify, Apple, [and] so on.”
Steve Cooper, Warner Music Group
This confirmation of the 100,000-tracks-a-day figure arrives just 18 months after Spotify announced (in February 2021) that over 60,000 tracks a day were being uploaded to its platform.
That 60,000 milestone was surpassed nearly two years after Spotify told investors (in April 2019) that “close to 40,000” tracks were being added to its service every 24 hours.
Before this, in the first half of 2018, Spotify said that 20,000 tracks were being uploaded to its platform each day.
Putting those stats into perspective: From 2018 to 2022, the volume of tracks being uploaded to Spotify et al daily has multiplied by five.
This information arrives just as one major streaming service – Apple Music – confirms that the total number of tracks on its platform has now surpassed 100 million.
That figure was itself up from 70 million less than two years ago.
Announcing the 100 million milestone this week, Apple’s Global Head of Editorial, Rachel Newman, said: “Today, anywhere in the world, in 167 countries and regions on Apple Music, any artist of any description can write and record a song and release it globally.
“Every day, over 20,000 singers and songwriters are delivering new songs to Apple Music — songs that make our catalog even better than it was the day before.”
(An interesting side-note: If we’re to believe Lucian Grainge and Steve Cooper’s 100,000-per-day stat – and they both run publicly-traded companies, so we’re gonna go ahead and do so – that would mean each of the 20,000 singers/songwriters cited by Apple are uploading, on average, five tracks a day. Depending, of course, on how Apple defines a singer/songwriter.)
Obviously, this 100 million statistic won’t be unique to Apple Music: the rapid recent growth in volume of music uploads has been driven by the indie distribution sector, where companies pride themselves on the number of services (Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube Music, Amazon Music etc.) they can deliver music to in one go.
Question is, is Rachel Newman’s statement really true? Do 100,000 new tracks swarming onto Apple Music every 24 hours actually make its catalog “even better than it was the day before”?
Or do they actually only make it bigger, more overwhelming, and less manageable?
In reality, do they just increasingly dilute the good stuff – making it harder and harder to find?
A hundred million tracks, if all of those tracks evened out at 3 minutes a piece, would take you approximately 571 years to listen through back-to-back – with no sleep.
That’s obviously impossible in one lifetime. Or, indeed, in five lifetimes. So who does this ever-mutating morass of music actually benefit?
Indie artist distributors like DistroKid and TuneCore, of course, are getting a fee from every DIY artist whose music they upload to streaming platforms. So there’s a financial win for those companies (DistoKid wasn’t recently valued at $1.3 billion for nothing.)
But is 100 million tracks better for audiences than, say, 20 million? (Especially when you consider that, statistically, some 80% of all tracks on Spotify have fewer than 50 monthly listeners. And that, according to one senior major record company insider, “everyone knows that most of that music hasn’t even been listened to once”?)
Is it better for the platforms like loss-making Spotify, whose expenditure on cloud-based storage and hosting for its digital music catalog continues to spiral?
(In FY2021, according to an annual SEC filing, Spotify spent an additional EUR €33 million vs. the prior year on “information technology costs” primarily due to an “increase in our usage of cloud computing services”.)
And is it better for the honest partners of streaming services – artists and labels alike – who are uploading the best music they can, in the simple hope of finding an audience that enjoys it? (Dinosaurs!)
We all surely live in hope that companies like Spotify and Apple Music are building (or buying) sophisticated tech that prevents dangerous and/or hateful content ever reaching the ears of young users.
But what about basic quality control?
How certain can we be that a significant bulk of tracks amongst the 100,000 now being uploaded daily aren’t – in the words of Sony Music Group Chairman, Rob Stringer – mere “flotsam and jetsam”?
By which he essentially means: piles upon piles of 30-second ‘sleep’ or ‘sound effects’ tracks solely designed to game the pro-rata royalty payout system favored by music’s biggest digital players?
So: 100,000 tracks a day. Over 100 million tracks in total.
We’re a long, long way from “1,000 songs in your pocket”. But, perhaps, not for the better.
Cinq Music Group’s repertoire has won Grammy awards, dozens of Gold and Platinum RIAA certifications, and numerous No.1 chart positions on a variety of Billboard charts. Its repertoire includes heavyweights such as Bad Bunny, Janet Jackson, Daddy Yankee, T.I., Sean Kingston, Anuel, and hundreds more.Music Business Worldwide