Fans or Just Numbers?
Fans or Just Numbers?
Submitted By Peter Åstedt
You know what? Your song might not be a flop just because it doesn’t have any numbers. The numbers just show how much marketing that has been done. The numbers don’t tell you if the song is good or bad. The numbers just tell you how many people that listened to it and that doesn’t even tell how long they spent of their time to listen to the song.
We have a problem in the music industry because too many people believe that they can find the next thing strictly by the numbers. Not statistics, you can actually get info from statistics. Only information on things that are not the future (yet). I have seen new programs that can predict a little bit of how songs will perform in the future from the statistics, but just if nothing major happens.
The problem is the number crunching. People just go on Spotify and see that “wow! This has 12 million listings!” and automatically think it is a hit. To be honest you can easily get those numbers with a crappy song and put it into the right channels to get the numbers up. The problem is that the fans are not actual fans, they are just people getting shot in a drive-by music shooting in the different digital outlets. A victim of how someone managed to fool the algorithm to place the song in front of you and you click on it just to listen the first 20 seconds and realize that it is so bad you just want to turn it off. Switch the channel to something else and forget about the song. The problem is that mistake is now a figure in the listing’s statistics for that song. Another way to lure the algorithms is to share it with another victim of bad music.
So now you think I will tell you that it was better before. Not really, this has been this way for too many years. Before this was done by blowing up your sales in cheating ways. An artist in Sweden for example sold his new single for one cent in the ice cream trucks. Then reported the sales. One way to cheat the algorithms. At the same time Virgin used housewives in the 70’s and the 80’s. Gave them money to go down to buy the records they wanted in the charts. The phenomena is not new in any way. The problem here is that now it’s so easy and cheap that any average Joe can do it online because now suddenly it’s easier to cheat the numbers than actually have a real career.
The truth then was exposed when the artist went on tour. Suddenly even the most streamed artist in the world could only get 500 people to a show in a major city. A good marker was if an artist could draw an audience on a live show if they really had any fans or just numbers. Now during COVID this function is off. There are no measurements at all. There are no live shows and no real audiences. This has never happened before and the reactions I see right now are very strange. Okay a lot more PR is done for each new release. The cheating is now through the roof. At the same time, nothing new comes out from all the noise. No new artists are on the horizon. It’s mainly the old that we already had and are trusted that get any attention. If anything the noise is so loud so even that AC/DC has released a new single which people never thought would happen since members have died and so on. Still, the noise was so loud that they were drowned. It passed me I found out by mistake that there was a new single out.
I was recently checking the numbers. The song has been out for less than a month and has just passed 6 million streams. That is what an average Joe rapper from Hackensack can cheat up to in a week. Okay and the song will climb on if it gets traction. But my guess is that if they manage to tour again the song will reach quite high numbers. Like I wrote at the beginning of this article, it’s all about marketing, the problem right now is that the number one tool is shut down (live performances) and we don’t know for how long or when it things will be able to return to some sort of normal.
One thing I will be thrilled to see is what happens when COVID is over and how will live appearances change the top lists.
Editor’s Note: Peter Åstedt has been working in the music industry for over 30 years. He has started record labels, distribution systems, and publishing companies. Peter also runs several major showcase festivals and is an advisor for INES and co-founder of MusicHelp/Discover Sensation. He has worked with the Top Ten most streamed songs and had music on both the Olympics and Super Bowl. Peter has currently taken up the seat of Station Manager of Cashbox Radio, working with MD, PD and station owner, Sandy Graham. His latest venture is a new Showcase Festival in Sweden, Future Echoes scheduled for September 16-18, 2021.