No Radio Play, No Album Sales, No Problem Getting To #1
If you’re looking for evidence of streaming’s growing influence over the music charts, and a Sign of the Apocalypse for radio stations and record labels, look no further than the phenomenon known as Boogie Wit Da Hoodie. Last week Hoodie’s (am I ok to call him that?) single “Hoodie SZN” reached the top of the Billboard Top 200 Album Chart with zero radio play and next to no album sales.
Over the past few years artists who’ve come up through YouTube and the streaming platforms have started to see commercial success without much support from the traditional music industry. After Hoodie released Hoodie SZN online it became a viral sensation with over 83M streaming plays in just two weeks. During this window no radio stations picked up the song – in fact the entire radio industry only had 261 spins of the song the week it went to #1. At the same time only 863 Hoodie albums were purchased, which is a record low for unit sales of a chart topping single.
So what does Hoodie’s example tell us about the future of music? First, great songs by emerging artists will find their audience via the internet regardless of what the broadcasters and labels do. Second, radio’s role as a maker of hits is fading – instead of being leaders in music they’ve become followers of internet trends. And finally, label contracts are no longer needed for artist development.
Over the next few years I’d expect more and more Hoodies to emerge as self-made online stars. Every time this happens the legacy music industry infrastructure will fade further into irrelevance.