The value of YouTube and Spolify exposure
YouTube offers another route to stardom for performers with no obvious connections to the industry, a notable example being the singer Justin Bieber. After posting a video of himself on YouTube as a teenager, Bieber was discovered by music manager Scooter Braun. Braun secured a record deal for Bieber with RBMG Records in 2008, resulting in an EP recording, My World, in late 2009. This was followed by several other hits. Bieber’s first studio album, My World 2.0 in 2010, debuted at number one in several countries. His album Under the Mistletoe (2011) debuted at number one on the Billboard 200. His third studio album, Belize (2012), generated the single “Boyfriend”, which debuted at number one in Canada and the UK and Mexico and number seven in Japan.
The wide global reach of YouTube is reflected in our sample of Australian artists. YouTube searches for Australian artists in the ARIA Top 50 Australian
Artists Singles Chart in the period 2018-2019 were compared using Google Trends. Google Trends does not provide figures on the actual number of searches. However, it does provide figures relative to the number of users in each country. While this does not provide an accurate measure of YouTube music downloads, the comparison indicates the countries where Australian artists generate relatively high interest among YouTube viewers. The top 30 countries are shown in Figure 2.19. When the size of the country (measured by the number of Google searches) is taken into account, some countries increase in importance. For example, Belgium, Ireland, Canada, South Africa, Slovakia, Hungary and Denmark show the highest interest in the top Australian artists relative to other countries, with the exception of Australia. These countries show greater interest than the United States in top Australian artists. It should also be noted that the ranking of countries by YouTube searches varies considerably by artists. For instance, the top three countries searching for AC/DC are Hungary, Slovenia and Slovakia (Figure 2.20). On the other hand, the top three countries for Sia are Albania, Slovakia and France (Figure 2.21). These are also not the same as countries ranked according to the number of Spotify listeners. Figures 2.22 and 2.23 show the top 20 countries for AC/DC and Sia according to Spotify listeners. In both cases, the
Figure 2.19 Top 30 countries for YouTube searches for ARIA Top 50 artists—18 February 2018-18 February 2019. Source: Google Trends.
Figure 2.20 Top 30 countries for YouTube searches for AC/DC—18 February 2018-18 February 2019. Source: Google Trends.
United States, Mexico and Brazil show the largest audience figures, followed by Australia in the case of AC/DC and Germany in the case of Sia. This suggests that artists may have a global YouTube presence over and above that which is indicated by Spotify streams, which requires a subscription.
While there appears to be no direct link between YouTube usage and export income, a high level of YouTube views and Spotify streams may be a necessary condition for high percentages of export income. [A necessary condition is a condition in the absence of which the outcome will not occur. These can be identified using necessaiy conditions analysis (NCA) (Dul, 2016).] As shown in Figures 2.24 and 2.25, the level of export income is zero at low levels of YouTube and Spotify streaming and export income only shows up at higher levels of YouTube and Spotify streaming. In other words, while having a high level of YouTube views and Spotify downloads does not automatically lead to high percentages of export income by musicians, it is necessaiy to have a sufficiently high level of YouTube views and Spotify downloads in order to be in a position to achieve high percentages of export income.
Figure 2.21 Top 30 countries for YouTube searches for Sia—18 February 2018-18 February 2019. Source: Google Trends.
Increasing importance of playlists
Given the global scale of streaming services, curators of playlists on streaming services have become very influential in recent years and have become a target for exporters. As one Australian industry interviewee commented.
If you're in this territory, we need to ensure that there’s an opportunity for Australians to be heard.
(Interview 23, 2018)
We remind them of the fact they’re the ones wanting to form relationships with local artists because they know from their own research and data that you’ve got to connect to the local community. No-one wants to just hear endless US hip-hop for instance; you’ve got to tailor to markets.
(Interview 23, 2018)