In the first 6 months of 2021, streaming services saw a total of 555.3 Billion streams; an increase from last year’s 511 Billion according to MRC Data. Of those 555.3 Billion streams, 33.6% of them were new releases, a decrease of 2.5% from 2020. MRC Data counts 1,250 premium streams as a sale, or 3,750 ad-supported streams as a sale. Of the 434.7 Million sales MRC Data equivalents given the number of streams, 288.6 Million of them were from catalogs. Catalogs are noted as songs or albums released more than 18 months from current day.
Of albums and singles released so far this year, Morgan Wallen’s “Dangerous: The Double Album” was streamed a total of 2.315 Billion times, and Olivia Rodrigo’s smash hit single “Drivers License” saw a total of 460.2 Million streams. If the upward trend in streaming catalog releases over newer releases continues, catalog music could control 75% of the streaming market by the end of the decade.
But why are catalogs earning more streams than new releases?
Considering that a release only needs to be 18 months old to qualify as ‘catalog music’, there are far more songs in the catalog than new releases. Several of the top 20 artists on Spotify including Ed Sheeran, David Guetta, Bruno Mars,13 Drake, Khalid, Post Malone, Marshmello, and Travis Scott have not released albums since the end of 2019 and so would be considered catalog. New releases also typically target younger audiences, possibly to the exclusion of older demographics.
Catalog music even goes viral. Fleetwood Mac’s 2004 Remaster of “Dreams” surged in popularity last Fall after a TikTok user’s video featuring the song went viral. “Dreams” currently has over 750 million streams on Spotify.