In the past five years, the number of times you visit a band’s Wikipedia page can tell if a band is going to break in the next year or so. For instance, about eight months before The Weeknd began to play across radio stations throughout the country, there was a huge spike of views on their Wikipedia page. And there are now firms that create analytics of data of the number of YouTube clips that are played. Another way record labels or representatives of an artist are able to tell if an artist is going to break is through the use of Shazam (an app that identifies the media playing around you). Shazam is able to show the most “Shazamed” song in your particular area.
Previously, record executives would instinctively know this song or artist was going to be a hit. But that led to repetitive-sounding music that often was the same thing time and time again. Now we have songs and artists that sound really distinct, and that diversity is in part because it’s possible for the data and technology to draw attention to people’s taste.
The millennial generation is the first that has been able to experience music almost entirely out of chronology. Because of the internet, we are able to explore any era or kind of music at any time. As a consequence, there are fewer successful albums and more one-hit wonders. Technology has influenced the way we define a successful album. Earlier generations have a tendency to create links with the ownership of music through cassette tape and CDs. At the same time, radio is pulling us in a more conservative direction in terms of playing fewer songs with little diversity.
But the millennial generation associates music and music ownership with the internet and cellphones. For them, the access to music via the internet results in almost a paralyzing effect of having so many choices. For instance, with so many opportunities, if you choose restaurant A, you are missing out on restaurant B, C, or D. It’s similar with music.