Whilst the ‘oldie-but-goodies’ artists are still making their mark on the streaming charts, the youngsters of pop appear to be grasping number ones more often than the rain falls in Britain.
Following the release of 20-year-old Camila Cabello’s solo debut album ‘Camilla’, she has officially debuted at No. 1 on the Billboard 200 with 119,000 units, making her the youngest artist in history to achieve this milestone since Shawn Mendes with “Handwritten”. 22-year-old Troye Sivan ia also “taking over the streaming world”, with his latest single “My My My!” averaging just above 1.5 million streams daily on Spotify since its first day on Thursday.
With 22-year-old Dua Lipa leading the BRITs nominations with a whopping 5 nominations, she is just one of the “30 under 30s” leading the entertainment industry. With the incredible recent success of younger artists, an important question arises: are the youth beginning to take over the music industry?
According to Forbes, the top five most streamed artists of 2017 in the US were Drake, Kendrick Lamar, Future, Ed Sheeran and The Weeknd – the oldest being Future, aged 34. Interestingly, not only are all these artists all aged 34 or under, but they also all appear to be male; perhaps highlighting that the issue lies not within ageism in the streaming industry but instead gender inequalities.
Whilst there has been a gradual sense of progression within Western societies surrounding gender inequalities, such as the recent #MeToo Twitter campaign, patriarchal ideologies still somewhat appear to remain within the entertainment industries. For example, Taylor Swift stated in an interview with 2 Day FM Sydney that patriarchal values are still deeply embedded in the music industry, raising the point that she gets negatively labelled as “going on about her ex boyfriends” when male artists such as Ed Sheeran do the same but don’t receive any negative labelling or criticism for it.
In a recent interview with BBC, former singer Kate Nash discusses both ageism and sexism within the music industry, stating that “the music industry makes every musician feel like they’re failing. It’s so much about putting women down. A lot of artists are quite mentally fragile,” she continues. “I don’t think they’re thinking about the mental safety of a lot of young artists.” Here, Nash raises a point about the vulnerability of young artists, highlighting that they are treated improperly, particularly female artists.
So why do ageism and gender inequalities still remain in the music industry despite social change? Perhaps one explanation for the inexplicit sense of ageism in the streaming charts is fuelled by the demographics of Spotify users. In a recent survey, Statista revealed that 21 percent of respondents aged 18 to 29 stated that they used Spotify several times per day – a significantly higher figure in comparison to older Spotify users. Streaming music is still a fairly contemporary term, which is perhaps understood greater by younger generations than the older generations.
In addition, technological advancements such as social media platforms have perhaps had an equal participation, as fans are now enabled to connect with artists and musicians in a unique way. Social media applications such as Instagram, Twitter and YouTube have allowed artists to share personal affairs and additional content with fans that have never been available in previous years.
However, whilst this perhaps explains the success of younger artists in the streaming charts, it fails to depict why a gender division is still existent.
The gender pay gap is still very much existent and women are still battling for equal rights globally. Only over the past twenty-four hours there have been both women and men marching through the streets of Washington D.C., Las Vegas, New York, Los Angeles, London and other major global cities, protesting against President Donald Trump and other patriarchal issues such as women coming forward to open up about experiences of sexual harassment and assault and the #MeToo campaign.
Whilst streaming services have many benefits such as convenience and immediateness, perhaps technology has also had a negative impact on the music industry – not only in terms of sales and royalties but also in terms of reinforcing harmful ideologies by inadvertently forming age gaps and underpinning inexplicit patriarchal values.