Aug 25, 2019

Generation Z knows how to own the pop charts

Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X. Photos: Jonas Walzberg/picture alliance via Getty Images; Johnny Nunez/Getty Images

Generation Z artists have figured out how their peers consume music in the streaming era, and they're tailoring their release strategies to give their songs an otherworldly longevity on the charts.

Why it matters: A traditional single launch with a big-budget music video isn't enough to create a mega-hit in 2019. True staying power requires a savvy use of memes, remixes and videos to sustain buzz — and the recent war for #1 between Billie Eilish and Lil Nas X utilized all 3, previewing the music industry of the future.

  • Eilish's "Bad Guy" ended the record 19-week reign of Lil Nas X's "Old Town Road" at the top of the Billboard Hot 100 this week, making her the first artist born in the 2000s to hit #1 on the chart.
  • If Eilish hadn't succeeded, "Bad Guy" would have spent a record-tying 10 weeks at #2 without ascending to the top spot.

The big picture: Streaming is already the biggest factor for Billboard's charts. Last year, Billboard changed how streams count toward the Hot 100, granting the most weight to songs played under paid subscriptions with services like Spotify and Apple Music.

And on-demand songs from ad-supported services (think YouTube and streaming services' free tiers) have more weight than songs played on programmed services, like Pandora.

  • 84% of Gen Zers use their smartphones to consume audio content daily, according to a Consumer Technology Association survey. It also found that their 2 most popular sources of audio content were streaming services and online video.
  • A Music Business Association survey found that 15- to 19-year-olds are far more likely to opt for paid streaming than other age groups because of their preference for mobile streaming — even though 24% said they weren't the ones paying for it.

Eilish and Lil Nas X fought a months-long battle for #1, targeting their peers across their preferred platforms the whole time.

The bottom line: The world's biggest record labels have already caught on — and soon, these promotional strategies won't be limited strictly to the young.

Go deeper: Taylor Swift unloads on Scooter Braun's Big Machine deal

Go deeper

Trump walks to historic St. John's Church outside White House as protests rage

President Trump walked to the historic St. John’s Episcopal Church, located just steps away from the White House across Lafayette Park, on Monday night as protests linked to the murder of George Floyd raged across the capital and cities around the country.

What we're seeing: Military police and park rangers used physical force and tear gas on peaceful protestors to clear the area so that Trump could "pay respects" to the church that was damaged by a fire on Sunday.

Trump threatens to deploy military amid national unrest

President Trump announced from the White House Rose Garden Monday evening that he is "mobilizing all available federal resources, civilian and military" to stop violent protests across the country, decrying "professional anarchists, looters, criminals, antifa and others" whose actions have "gripped" the nation.

The backdrop: Trump's announcement came as police clashed with protesters just outside of the White House, using tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse crowds chanting, "Hands up, don't shoot," and other slogans. Flash bangs used outside the White House could be heard from the Rose Garden.

Updated 2 hours ago - Politics & Policy

Autopsies say George Floyd's death was homicide

Police watch as demonstrators block a roadway while protesting the death of George Floyd in Miami. Photo: Joe Raedle/Getty Images

Preliminary results from an independent autopsy commissioned by George Floyd's family found that his death in the custody of Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin was "homicide caused by asphyxia due to neck and back compression that led to a lack of blood flow to the brain," according to a statement from the family's attorney.

The latest: An updated official autopsy released by the Hennepin County medical examiner also determined that the manner of Floyd's death was "homicide," ruling it was caused by "cardiopulmonary arrest complicating law enforcement subdued, restraint, and neck compression."