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Music Trends During the Pandemic

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Some of us made mix tapes back in the day or burned CDs. Today, we’re still creating playlists for everything from workouts to vacations to serve as soundtracks to our lives – it’s just that how we do it, well, looks a little different. And even though this year ushered in a few changes of its own, we didn’t stop listening to music. In fact, for many of us, music may have been a welcome distraction during tough times and something we leaned on to de-stress.

The number of people paying for music streaming subscriptions could surge nearly four-fold by 2030. 

Streaming away. While some people dusted off their old CD or vinyl collection, the rest of us turned to our devices. “Music fans enthusiastically stream away their time locked down at home,” Rolling Stone pointed out. The publication noted that recorded music streaming revenues at three major industry players saw double-digit increases in the third quarter of 2020.

Still, where and how we’re listening may have changed. Based on pre-pandemic figures from 2017, 40% of daily music consumption happened while driving or at work, but during lockdowns, streaming on TVs and gaming consoles doubled, according to industry and media audience research data compiled in a report by Goldman Sachs. And we weren’t just listening; music video streaming rose 8% during April. (Yes, music videos are still a thing!)

Songs from legendary artists like The Beatles or Fleetwood Mac were popular, as was country music.

Tapping their toes to tried-and-true hits. What were we jamming to as we baked, did puzzles, and tried to drown out the dog and kids to try and get some work done? Americans turned up the volume on songs by some of their favorite artists during lockdown, like The Beatles or Fleetwood Mac. 

And with introductions from social media, some people are listening to old songs with new ears. The 1977 song “Dreams” by Fleetwood Mac, for example, landed in the Top 10 on Billboard’s streaming songs chart in October, CNN reported – thanks to one viral video of someone drinking cranberry juice while skateboarding and lip synching to the song. 

Music fans have gone country. The country music genre seemed especially vulnerable because it thrives on physical spaces like concert halls, bars and tours, according to Time . Instead, country music has soared 15.8% on streaming services during the pandemic while the overall industry saw gains of just 2.6%, when compared with pre-Covid numbers, the magazine noted.

What’s on the other side? Despite all of the changes we’ve seen this year (including a pause for concerts), the beat goes on. Rolling Stone pointed out that the pandemic was good for some independent musicians who were making more music than ever,  while some “megastars” such as Drake, Ed Sheeran, Bruno Mars, Adele and Travis Scott are waiting until 2021 to put out new albums. 

Even though 2020 will be a “lost year” for live music, Goldman Sachs forecasts that streaming revenue will remain resilient: The number of paid streaming subscribers is estimated to surge to 1.2 billion people in 2030, up from 341 million in 2019. 

“The habits we’ve formed during lockdown, such as relying on social media and rediscovering old tracks, are set to accelerate the online shift and propel global music revenues to new highs,” Goldman Sachs concluded.

This article is for informational purposes only and is not a substitute for individualized professional advice. Articles on this site were commissioned and approved by Marcus by Goldman Sachs®, but may not reflect the institutional opinions of The Goldman Sachs Group, Inc., Goldman Sachs Bank USA or any of their affiliates, subsidiaries or divisions.