Things Change, But The Music Charts Stay The Same

While so much has changed over the last days, in some ways because so much as changed, the music charts have stayed the same. In addition to the health and economic crises because of the global pandemic, the police killing of George Floyd in Minneapolis on May 25 gave rise to days of mass protests against racism and police brutality which have engulfed the nation and the world.

During this time, some songs from the past that represent the feelings of the people have returned to the charts. For example, last week Childish Gambino’s “This is America,” rose to number two on the Most Streamed Songs chart, even though it came out two years ago. Changes also began to happen within the music industry itself.

Last week, two music industry insiders, Jamila Thomas and Brianna Agyemang, launched an industry blackout they called #TheShowMustBePaused. The blackout went far beyond the music industry as #BlackoutTuesday. As many millions replaced their screens on Instagram and other platforms with solid black boxes on Tuesday, June 2, major entertainment and music companies like Apple, Spotify, and some record labels closed operations that day. Republic Records and Interscope Records decided to withhold scheduled album releases, and Universal Music and Sony Music pledged their own changes.

Artists like Lil Nas X, Drake, and The Weeknd meanwhile pressured the music industry to do more. The Weeknd wrote on Instagram that “no one profits off of black music more than the labels and streaming services,” and he challenged labels to match his donations, totaling half a million dollars, to the National Bail Out fund, the Black Lives Matter Global Network, and Colin Kaepernick’s Know Your Rights Camp.

Last Wednesday, coinciding with its multi-billion dollar Initial Public Offering, Warner Music then created a $100 million fund to “to support charitable causes related to the music industry, social justice and campaigns against violence and racism.” Sony Music followed suit on Friday by creating its own $100 million fund “to support social justice and anti-racist initiatives around the world.”

After all of these changes, the charts now look almost exactly as they did before they happened.

Why?

One answer is that some music labels said they deliberately delayed the release of albums, in the case of Republic, “to reflect on the injustices happening to the Black community in America, and discuss how we and our artists can use our voices to impact and create real initiatives for change in our communities.” Whether or not other labels made the same conscious decision to withhold previously recorded work, no label or artist released any album on the normal release day, Friday, that drastically changed the charts.

According to Music Maven’s proprietary technology, which provides the most current and accurate data on the performance of all artists and songs in daily music charts, this means that none of the top ten Most Streamed Artists at the start of this week reached their position by releasing any album this past week. This includes:

1. DaBaby, at 9M streams, who released his album, BLAME IT ON BABY on April 17, and “ROCKSTAR,” featuring Roddy Ricch, on April 24, still the Most Streamed Song, at 4.4M streams,

2. The late Juice WRLD, at 8.8M streams, with no album this year, but whose estate posthumously released his “Tell Me U Luv Me,” featuring Trippie Redd on May 29,

3. Post Malone, at 7.8M streams, with no album this year, but whose “Circles,” remains strong on the charts,

4. Lil Baby, at 7.3M streams, who released his album, My Turn on February 28, and

5. Drake, at 6.2M streams who released his album, Dark Lane Demo Tapes on May 1.

Of the other artists on the top 10 — Polo G, Lil Uzi Vert, Gunna, Lady Gaga, and The Weeknd — all have released albums this year, but none have released any album since Gaga’s Chromatica last May 29.

While much has changed in the last days, including in the music industry, the most important thing that has stayed the same is position of most of the top artists on the music charts. In this case, the more some things change, the more other things stay the same.

By Vince, June 9, 2020

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