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Music Streaming Declines During CCP Virus Lockdown

As countries announced nationwide travel restrictions and lockdowns to limit the spread of the CCP Virus, it was expected that services like music streaming would see a substantial rise in demand since people would need to kill time. But surprisingly, the opposite seems to have happened, as early reports from the U.S. and EU suggests that there has actually been a slump in music streaming consumption.

Streaming decline

“During the week of March 13 through March 19 — the week restaurants and bars across the nation closed and more Americans self-quarantined — streams dropped 7.6 percent, to under 20.1 billion. Programmed streams on services like Pandora dropped 9 percent to just under 3.5 billion, while on-demand streams (audio and video) dropped 7.3 percent to 16.6 billion. Dropoffs of this magnitude are rare, with the exception being the week after Christmas,” according to Rolling Stone.

In Italy, which is the worst affected country in Europe, the top 200 streamed Spotify songs averaged about 18.3 million streams per day in February. But after March 9, when the country announced a national quarantine, this number barely touched 14.4 million over the next week.  The same declining trend was seen in France, Spain, and the UK. So how did music streaming drop when people have more free time on their hands? There are several reasons for this.

In the UK, there has been an uptick in radio streaming. The BBC reported a jump of 18 percent in the streaming of its radio stations as of March 25 when compared to the previous week. Global, that owns talk station LBC and Capital FM, saw radio listening rise by 15 percent. Music streaming has also been negatively affected since people have preferred to see more visual content rather than audio content.

People are choosing visual content over audio content. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
People are choosing visual content over audio content. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

“Fewer people are commuting to work or going to the gym and shops that use Spotify for their in-store music are closing their doors… People who stream music in the office also seem to be turning off and watching Netflix instead and there’s a big rise in radio listening — suggesting we’re seeking companionship alongside our music,” Mark Savage, a music reporter, said to the BBC.

Plus, people’s interest in streaming educational video content has apparently seen a massive spike. According to the cybersecurity company Cloudflare’s analysis of its clients, traffic to tutoring services rose by 400 percent in March as compared to the previous month. Traffic to Christian websites was up by 140 percent, gardening by 200 percent, and children’s education by 160 percent.

Movie industry struggling

The movie industry has also been hit pretty hard due to the viral outbreak. Many movies have shifted their release dates and will suffer some losses as a result. Warner Brothers’ Wonder Woman was due to be released in June and has now been moved to August. The latest installment of James Bond’s No Time to Die shifted its release date from April to November.

Movie theaters are losing revenues due to coronavirus. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)
Movie theaters are losing revenues due to COVID-19. (Image: pixabay / CC0 1.0)

Movie theater owners will also suffer from a severe cash crunch due to lower revenues. “This was going to be the worst year in movie theater history before the coronavirus hit… This is like pouring lighter fluid on the fire,” Richard Greenfield, a media analyst at LightShed partners, said to Time.  Shares of movie theater chains like Cineworld, AMC, and Marcus Theaters have declined.

Though some movies have been released early on streaming services, big blockbusters are not likely to follow the trend. Due to their huge budgets, only a theatrical release can bring in the profits the moviemakers look forward to. Theater owners are hoping that when the situation becomes normal and backlogged blockbuster movies get released, people will throng the theaters and help offset the losses they have suffered in the last few weeks.

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