The Age of the Curator: Streaming Services Leading the Way in Music Discovery

The Age of the Curator: Streaming Services Leading the Way in Music Discovery
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Human history has been marked by a series of notable eras. In music specifically, eras have been recorded through the prominence of artistic styles. To date, the curation of these artistic styles has been led by appointed music specialists, from early religious leaders through to modern-day radio hosts and DJs. Throughout much of history, these were the sole gatekeepers to mainstream music discovery.

However, looking back, music history shows definite – and often technologically-driven changes that have altered how music is curated. In the 1950s, dancehalls served as the largest form of social gatherings and a source of music discovery. In the 1960s, radio served as the main source of curation. Although radio first began in the 1920s, the 1960s saw the birth of more prominent radio stations and pioneered the route for so-called ‘pirate radio,’ or illegal radio broadcasts, which allowed for wider access to new stations and their music. The 1990s were arguably the peak period for dance-driven nightclubs, with house, techno and hip-hop scenes keeping revelers awake until dawn and opening them up to new genres, artists and instruments.

Although previous models of music discovery and sharing have focused on broadcasting, the rise and mainstream use of digital within the music industry – as well as the ongoing expansion of social media - has changed how, where and when music is discovered and subsequently shared.

Deezer and other music streaming services have become an integral part of a wider cultural change that helps people discover new artists and refine their music tastes. It also brings attention to grassroots, up-and-coming artists who might have struggled under previous models of music discovery, opening them up to a wider audience that would have been exclusively available to larger artists in previous eras.

Additionally, music streaming has shifted the influence away from a select group of specialists setting the music agenda, allowing the masses to share their discoveries through social media. This level of sharing allows for anyone to become a tastemaker as long as they understand how to effectively engage through distribution channels and content curation. To date, Deezer users have created nearly 140 million playlists, and in the last six months alone, there has been an 18% increase in streams of user-created playlists. By sharing these playlists, curators can identify others with similar musical interests and passions, increasing their music tribe and influencer status.

Deezer’s editors represent the epitome of these music curators. Our editors constantly monitor what fans, influencers and tastemakers are listening to, liking and sharing, and use this information to identify new trends and artists. Music streaming has the capability to create a modern grassroots movement by facilitating the discovery of rare and undiscovered artists. In the US alone, over 80% of playlist streams on Deezer are from curated editor playlists and, in the past year, daily streams per user of curated playlists have increased by 33%.

These recommendations – the rare, undiscovered talent, new trends and popular tracks – aren’t just shared through editor-created playlists but also incorporated into Deezer’s unique Flow feature. The best of man and machine, Flow is a personalized tool that curates a non-stop, press-and-play soundtrack that is tailored to each individual’s tastes and can predict exactly what our listeners want to hear.

So regardless of whether you’re listening to your personalized Flow soundtrack or the latest editor-created playlist, the music discovered, shared and ultimately streamed on Deezer has all but certainly been curated by a music fan. Whether they’re a professional music editor, an influencer or one of these in the making, everyone has the chance make their mark on music history during today’s Age of the Curator.

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