The New Logic of the Poster Heads in the Post-Streaming Era


Having Stormzy as the first Grime artist to head the Glastonbury, it is worth reflecting on what this represents in terms of the relationship between the new economy of streaming and live music.

This became much less noticeable because of the controversy surrounding the fact that it is now mandatory for Worthy Farm headlines to be not established rock bands (as happened with Jay-Z and Kanye West at the festival), but this should to be seen as a movement that will tell us what the audience will be waiting for from the next repertoire of the headliners.

Those who complain that Stormzy is not a good material to be a headliner (despite the fact of having a successful album and a successful single too), do not seem to understand the point in the transformation that is taking place in the industry Live – the headliners of last year came under a completely different paradigm to the paradigm that dominates within the music industry.

Also, if people expect the live music industry continue to exist in the same way at the same time you want it to reflect modern music, then you are in a huge contradiction:

  • The genres of streaming and live shows are reversed: 20% of Spotify's 25 best artists for February 2019 are hip hop artists, compared to 12% of top global artists. Meanwhile, rock represents only 12% of the top 25 artists of Spotify, but it manages to represent 28% of the top of live artists. This is disconnected with respect to what people are listening to and what they are paying to see live; being then that they are two sides of the business of music globally. Live music has always been the belated indicator of taste, being that the live careers of the artists are always behind their careers in recording (sale of records, etc).
  • The boom of festivals tells us the future: Listeners are less likely to invest in artists over an extended period of time, a trend caused by increased choices among consumers, who have facilitated downloads and reproductions. While it is true that festivals are better for this type of audience than individual shows, it could be said that in the coming years it is possible that extended shows no longer make sense for someone who only plays a couple of songs for each individual show . Festival attendees want shorter sets, but this could create a conflict with the artists, as they want longer shows to get better pay. The current format of live shows with longer sets seems to be disconnected from the listening habits of consumers. The sites are already preparing for the future post-concert, which bears a strong resemblance to the variety of format that was present in Britain until the early 60s, when the arrival of rock gave the concert format we know today.

The downside is that the live music industry should definitely catch up with streaming if you want to have this kind of headliners in the future. Even if the Stormzy figures are not yet enough to be "worthy" of being a headliner, the festivals need NEW artists to go on that level, if they want to continue maintaining the format. Something will have to happen, whether the festivals are going to be divided into small niches (a trend that is already in process when we look at the British calendar of events) or that the streaming shows are going to become something more important in a shorter period of time than expected.

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