Streaming’s promise for listeners is also a gauntlet thrown down for creators. With tens of millions of songs just a few taps away, artists must compete or be skipped. The unprecedented wealth of data that streaming services use to curate their increasingly influential playlists gives the industry real-time feedback on what’s working, but this instant data-fication in turn risks feeding back on itself.
While streaming has undoubtedly coincided with a shift in the pop charts away from the caffeinated bravado of several years ago, streaming-era hits appear to be as rigidly defined and formulaic as ever—if not more so.
The music business is booming again after nearly two decades of decline, thanks to paid streaming services Spotify and Apple Music, according to a report from the Recording Industry Association of America.