Streaming music services are running full steam ahead these days, fueled by exclusive album releases, big money from investors, and increasing numbers of people who want to listen to their favorite bands anywhere. In fact, the last six months have seen five of the biggest weeks ever for individual albums on streaming services, according to a new report from Billboard.
Each new blockbuster album that hits streamers this year seems to break the presumed ceiling on streaming plays, with no end in sight for steadily climbing play numbers for new releases. Albums that have broken records in the past half year include Drake’s Views, Beyonce’s Lemonade, Justin Bieber’s Purpose, and Kanye West’s The Life of Pablo.
Views set a new standard for massive streaming plays when it was released in April, with 245 million plays on Apple Music during its first week on the market. That record more than doubled the 115 million plays achieved by Beyoncé’s Lemonade on Tidal just the week before, and further cemented the ideology that services like Apple Music and Spotify, which have tens of millions of subscribers, are probably the best place to release albums for massive plays during a debut week.
Further evidence of that is The Life of Pablo, which only broke into the top-five streaming weeks of all time after the album was removed from Tidal exclusivity and made available on Apple Music and Spotify.
But regardless of where artists choose to release their music, streaming plays continue to be on the rise, and the streaming industry looks poised to take over the iTunes model of purchased, downloaded digital music from a decade ago. It also does away with the idea that the era of the album is over, as subscribers pay for streaming access to full records, rather than for individual song downloads, to save money.
As many embrace the Netflix model for film and TV consumption, it makes sense that they would embrace it for music as well. After all, why pay $10 per record, when you could pay $10 per month for all (or almost all) records?
The numbers don’t lie: Streaming music is gaining steam, and album plays will only grow as the year continues.