NYU Keynote: Music, Streaming, and Second-Order Effects
I had the pleasure of being the keynote speaker at New York University’s Annual Alumni Event for its music business department. Big thanks to Larry Miller, a professor and director of the program, for inviting me.
It was a free-flowing conversation focused on how technology is reshaping the music industry from top-to-bottom. We’re well into the streaming era now, but some of the second-order effects are barely starting to ripple — particularly the oversaturation of content. It’s easier and cheaper than ever to release music, which explains how tens of thousands of new songs are uploaded to Spotify on a daily basis.
On one hand, this has ushered in a golden era of independent artists making a career without the backing of a label. On the other hand, value is increasingly accruing to the superstar artists. Most of these superstars were “grandfathered” into this new era as they were already household names before streaming took off. Reaching that same superstar status is harder and harder for new artists due to the industry’s oversaturation.
Larry and I dove deeper into the issue during our conversation. Students also hit me with Q&A about burning topics such as ChatGPT, botted streaming numbers, and much more. Here’s what you can expect to hear on this episode:
[2:02 ] Introduction from Larry Miller
[5:09 ] Superstar artists like Taylor Swift and Drake shining brighter than ever
[10:22 ] Too many hits, not enough superstars
[17:23 ] How Curren$y “niched down” to break through
[24:18 ] Tradeoffs of going independent or the major label route
[26:47 ] Industry takeaways from Spotify and YouTube’s billions playlists
[30:32 ] YouTube’s competitive advantage over Spotify
[34:09 ] Evolving Trapital’s own business model
[39:43 ] Music’s bot problem in streaming and ticketing
[42:07 ] Is the music superstar dead?
[44:19 ] Picking a platform(s) as a new artist
[46:24 ] How oversaturated music landscape impacts listeners
[49:03 ] Is New York drill music the next wave?
[50:48 ] Pros and cons of AI music
Trapital’s first-ever Cultural Report for 2022: https://trapital.co/culture-report/
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Host: Dan Runcie, @RuncieDan, trapital.co
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[00:00:00 ] Dan Runcie: Both Spotify and YouTube generated a tremendous amount of revenue for the music industry. I believe Spotify had last shared that they generated 7 billion for the industry. YouTube generates six or seven, I think it's 6 billion. The last thing that I had seen them put in. So that is a sign. Okay, great. You know, you tie that back into the numbers you shared before. You can do a little bit of backwards math to see how much of that is responsible for the overall industry with where it is now. So you see that, and then you also know that like anything else, the most popular songs drive most of that revenue. So you can kind of get a good idea to be like, okay, what are the songs that are driving? The music industry right now.
[00:00:46 ] Dan Runcie: Hey, welcome to the podcast. I'm your host and the founder of Dan Ruey. This podcast is your place to gain insights from the executives in music, media, entertainment, and more who are taking hip hop culture to the next level.
[00:01:04 ] (Intro) Dan Runcie: This episode is a fun one. We're sharing the audio from a talk that I recently gave at NYU. I was the keynote speaker at an event there for several hundred alumni and students. For the music business program, it starts off with a 10 minute talk by me where I'm giving an overview on the lay of the land with where things lay right now with streaming and music and social media, and how artists are doing their best to navigate all of the noise that's happening right now. And then it pivots into a conversation. Which is a fireside chat with me and Larry Miller, who's the head of the music program at N Y U, and we talk even more about what certain artists are doing, right? We talked about Currensy, who I recently had on the podcast a couple months ago. We also talk a little bit about me and Trapital and building this and where I see things going in the future. Really fun conversation. I really enjoyed doing this event and I hope you enjoyed this. Here it goes.
[00:02:02 ] Larry Miller: Dan Runcie is the founder of Trapital. Trapital has become an amazing media platform and the quality and amount of content, really insightful content that Dan cranks out as remarkable. It's just remarkable. What it's about is the people who are taking hip hop and culture to the next level. That includes the artists who are becoming moguls, leaders who are reaching new heights and fans inspired by hip hop's growing influence. Dan, when he'd school, and I suppose even, you know, business school. This media company Trapital, because he wanted to see a change. The hip hop execs that he looked up to were becoming really successful business leaders, but he felt that they rarely got the coverage that they deserved. And he wanted to do something about it. So he launched Trapital in March of 2018, and the business has grown ever since. Tens of thousands of influential people read Trapital's weekly memos and listen to the Trapital Podcast every week to stay ahead of the latest trends. Trapital's been featured pretty much everywhere. Places like The New York Times and the Wall Street Journal, and the BBC and N P R, C N B C and lots of other places are turning to Dan for insights on the business of hip hop. Dan's recent coverage has focused on lots of things. He's focused on the surprising differences between Spotify's and YouTube's. Billion stream playlists. Just looking at the ones that have done a billion on each platform. There are actually some pretty interesting differences between those two platforms. He's done significant work on how a venture capital fund from a 16 Z, Andreas and Horowitz invest money that is raised exclusively from black leaders in entertainment, sports, and business. He's done a report on the so-called decline in the influence of hip hop culture. He's done work on the future of ticketing. He's done a lot on DIY careers in hip hop, and done some really insightful reporting around Joe Kelli's amazing new book, Rap Capital, the Rise and Reign of Atlanta's hip hop culture, which if you haven't read it, get it. Dan got his MBA from a school in the Midwest, I think it's called Michigan, and he lives in San Francisco with his wife, and small child, daughter. Please give a warm NYU music biz welcome to Dan Runcie.
[00:05:09 ] Dan Runcie: Larry, thank you to the entire faculty, alumni for having me. It's an honor to be here. And I guess to start things off, because she's been brought up a few times, Taylor Swift has been a topic I know a lot of you thought about. So just outta curiosity, how many of you tried to buy Taylor Swift tickets this week? Okay, a few hands. Keep those hands up if you actually got Taylor Swift tickets this week. Okay? All right. Well, people will have to follow up with you all after to figure out exactly how you did that, but I think that's an interesting place to start with so much of what's happening right now in the music industry, because Ticketmaster, as most of you know, the whole entire app and the site crash because of the high demand. Ticketmaster put out this blog post and they said that they had five times the amount of hits compared to the Super Bowl, compared to other high days worth of events for this concert alone for Taylor Swift, and she's someone that's been on tour before. She's someone that has done plenty of things in music, but to see this kind of demand is pretty surprising. But she also broke a bunch of records with the album that she just put out a couple weeks ago, Midnights, and it's made me think about something we've talked a lot about recently, in Trapital. Something we've done a lot of research on. Right now there is so much music coming. I see, I think a few of you probably saw that music business Worldwide article, Spotify releases it. A hundred thousand songs a day get uploaded to that service. Most of those songs don't get listened to, to be clear, but a hundred thousand songs a day is still something else. And then as Larry had mentioned as well, Live Nation and a lot of these other event promoters and ticketing companies are having their biggest quarters and biggest years. And artists like Taylor are probably going to be having record years. And on the flip side, you also look at someone like Drake. Him and 21 Savage recently