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News March 30, 2020

Australia’s streaming market holds as U.S. sees decline in music plays during Coronavirus outbreak

Australia’s streaming market holds as U.S. sees decline in music plays during Coronavirus outbreak

As hundreds of millions around the world face the strange prospect of a house arrest for the foreseeable future, streaming technology has come to the rescue. Netflix, Apple, Zoom and an army of digital white knights are here for your attention, to keep you connected and fight off boredom.

Against all logic, however, music streaming has been on the wane in the United States, with the March 13-19 tracking week seeing a 7.6% in plays.

TIO can confirm that hasn’t been the case in Australia.

“We’re not seeing the same thing here,” says a label source. “At least not yet. The Australian streaming market continues to hold.”

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Since the COVID-19 outbreak, album music streams are up slightly while the singles market has dropped by low percentage points. There’s been no cratering of the chart, which can swing based on the release cycle.

On the albums side, streams are up by several thousand during a run of strong Australian releases and a new set from the Weeknd, After Hours, which rules the current ARIA survey.

“So far,” the label source notes, “we are not seeing a drop in Australia.”

At a glance, the U.S. situation seems downright bizarre. But scratch under the surface, and the answer lies in the competition for eyes and ears and the thirst for news.

Alpha Data, the tracking service that provides music data to Rolling Stone, Variety and MBW, crunched the numbers for the March 13-17 period and found on-demand streams from Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music and others shrank by 7.3% (16.6 billion plays ) during the period, Variety’s Geofff Mayfield reports, while programmed streams at Pandora and others were down about by 9% (3.5 billion).

Where did all the people go, if they’re stuck at home? TV and news, it would appear.

Add a global health crisis and take away those moments in the day when people tend to plug into music – the commute to work – and American consumers, for the time being, are chasing a different content stimulant.

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Netflix

According to Nielsen Media Research, TV viewing spiked by 60 per cent for the tracking week ending March 20, with CNN, Fox News and MSNBC among the big winners. Video streams on YouTube are also on the rise.

Australians are also hungry for information during the Coronavirus pandemic. Radio consumption is spiking across the country with Commercial Radio Australia today reporting a 20% increase in users and a 22% jump in the amount of time spent listening to radio on smartphones via the industry’s RadioApp over the past week.

There’s been a similar hike in the volume of requests for radio streams using the Alexa voice assistant on Amazon smart devices, with streams up 26% last week compared to a month ago, notes CRA CEO Joan Warner.

Also, podcast downloads are on the rise, posting a 15% gain overall in the week commencing March 16, with consumption of news podcasts up around 30%, compared to the same week in February, according to data reported by The Australian Podcast Ranker, launched last October by CRA and Triton Digital.

“People are craving news, but are also looking for a sense of community and seeking new forms of entertainment that they can enjoy while isolated or working from home,” Warner said.

In the weeks and months ahead, notes Warner, the trade body anticipates a clamour to podcasts as consumers either “seek information or to escape it for some light relief.”

That doesn’t mean a boost for Australia’s music community and the nation’s content industries aren’t making any assumptions.

APRA AMCOS, ARIA and Screen Producers Australia have joined forces in a campaign calling on consumers and platforms to support local during these tough times.

“With everyone at home, now is the time for all Australians to get behind our local artists and screen professionals” said Dan Rosen, CEO ARIA, on the announcement today of the Aussie Made initiative, starting from April.

With thousands of live events and gigs cancelled and screen productions shut down during the health crisis, “we have the opportunity to show we are behind them and ensure that income and support keep flowing to Australia’s vulnerable creative community,” Rosen notes.

Broadcasters and digital platforms “have a huge opportunity to build on Australia’s appetite for local content by exposing them to even more Australian music and screen content, ensuring that people can find it easily,” notes Dean Ormston, CEO APRA AMCOS.

“The depth of talent in our music and screen industries is already capturing the imagination of people around the world. By further promoting AUSSIE MADE, even more Australians can fall in love with the great Aussie content making its way around the globe.”

Read more here.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.

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