To help address the global music industry’s concerns about the COVID-19 pandemic, US-based music analytics company Chartmetric is continuously monitoring 2M+ artists across 20+ streaming and social media data sources.

We hope our data-driven analysis of COVID-19’s effects on music-related consumption helps artists, songwriters, labels, agencies, distributors, and other entertainment-related entities sustain and improve their well-being during these unprecedented times.

All data is collected, organized, and analyzed by Chartmetric. Data science by Nuttiiya Seekhao. Analysis by Rutger Ansley Rosenborg and Jason Joven.

Key Takeaways

  • South Korea: Top 100 Artist YouTube consumption tended to have an inverse relationship with both coronavirus cases and web interest, indicating Koreans traded music for information as infections peaked. However, as a result of effective testing and tracing, the country rebounded quickly to normalcy on all fronts.
  • Italy: Daily videos views for the Top 100 Italian artists dropped as infections increased but quickly rebounded with quarantine, generally following the infection curve from there.
  • United States: The US Top 100 YouTube artists surged during lockdown, but as daily infections continued to rise, that demand failed to keep pace, perhaps because consumers turned to other non-music content or other sources of entertainment as the reality of sheltering in place indefinitely started to set in.
  • South Africa: Web- and YouTube-based interest in coronavirus correlated with a late-March spike for both daily infections and also daily Top 100 Artist YouTube views. Unlike other countries, for South Africa, music and information seemed to go hand in hand on YouTube during COVID-19.
  • Brazil: Once the celebratory period of Carnival died down for Brazil, the coronavirus crisis started to become real for the country, and Top 100 Artist YouTube consumption started increasing, followed by a slow decline for the next month — a decline, unfortunately, that's not mirrored by daily infections, which numbered close to 6K by the end of April.
  • India: There was a striking decline in Top 100 Artist YouTube consumption here, perhaps a result of national school closures — or maybe because of over-the-top (OTT) mediums and news taking attention away from the YouTube platform altogether.

Setting the Stage

In Part 1 of our analysis on COVID-19’s effect on music consumption and the global music industry, we looked at changing Spotify Monthly Listener trends across nine different genres.

What we found was that global quarantine and social distancing measures appeared to be widening listenership for Classical, Ambient, and Children’s; narrowing listenership for Latin, Rap, Rock; and having less of an effect on Pop, Country, and Dance. The inflection point for these changes seemed to be happening around mid-March, correlating with a global peak in interest in “coronavirus” as a Google search term and lockdown orders going into effect in major markets like the United States.

Yet despite the success of audio-based streaming, Google’s video-sharing website YouTube stands as the second most visited website in the world, and one of the world’s primary sources for music consumption. According to the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI), on-demand video streaming, of which YouTube makes up the vast majority, accounted for 47 percent of global on-demand music streaming. Premium audio-based streaming accounted for 37 percent, and free audio-based streaming accounted for just 15 percent.  

As if that weren’t enough, YouTube’s market share is likely increasing even more as a result of quarantined consumers shifting their attention toward mediums that require multisensory engagement.

YouTube Consumption by Country During COVID-19

To better understand YouTube music consumption during COVID-19, our strategy was to look at a diverse subset of countries, both in terms of their representativeness of a certain region and also how differently COVID-19 lockdowns affected each in March and April.

Search portal Google and its subsidiary YouTube established themselves as the 1st and 2nd most visited websites in the world in 2018. (Source: Data Is Beautiful)

To select the group of artists we wanted to examine from each country, we recorded the Top 100 artists, in terms of YouTube video views during the week of Feb. 28-March 5, 2020, for each of the six markets we chose: South Korea, Italy, United States, South Africa, Brazil, and India. We attempted to focus on an international collection of music markets that also presented an assorted set of lockdown stories.

We then analyzed how their daily video views changed from the beginning of Jan 2020 to the beginning of April in order to get a better understanding of how different COVID-19 timelines and different cultural considerations impacted consumption behavior on YouTube for each country. We used the same "normalized average" calculation to best detect the YouTube music trends of each market, you can read our explanation of that trend-focused methodology in Part 1. (Note: Where applicable, we removed seasonality for the “weekend bump” in views that most music content experiences on YouTube to focus on the overall trend.)

Combining this data with coronavirus infection data from the World Health Organization, we found a diverse set of music market stories.

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