Charli XCX interview: how artists optimize for streaming

Charli XCX interview: how artists optimize for streaming

(electronic music) – I was never intentionally
really thinking about, I wanna break the system. Like I just, for me it’s just like, I was feeling very creative and wanted to release my music rapidly and when I wanted. Without streaming it would be so difficult to be able to do that. – [Female Narrator] We all know streaming is changing the way we listen to music but it’s also changing
how artists release music. Charli XCX is a singer and songwriter, known for hits like Boom Clap, (“Boom, clap”). Boys, (“I was busy dreaming about boys”.) and “1999” with Troye Sivan. (“I just wanna go back, back to 1999”). She’s known to release music
however and whenever she wants. Often with little warning. Which would’ve been
unthinkable before streaming. Now artist can instantly
put their music online but this also means they have to find ways to stand out among the millions
of songs at our fingertips. As a result, the idea of what an album
is has completely changed. (upbeat music) – I wanna release music
when I feel like it and how I want to. And I find that particularly major labels, who have like a very like strict structure of how they want artist to release music. That just doesn’t really work for me. And I don’t think, especially now, it doesn’t really work for my fans. – What do you mean by that? – Well, I think fans
are hungry for content and for music from their favorite artists. And there’s so much out there
at the moment, you know? They can get whatever
they want all the time. So it’s very, everything’s
very like rapidly digested and people want more. So, yeah everything moves
so much quicker now. – But first, let’s take a step back. Technology has always dictated
how artist release music. The flat record was
commercialized in the 1890’s and for decades, singles were popular because early kinds of
records could only hold about three minutes of audio. Around the 1950’s, the LP was introduced Which could hold up to 52 minutes of audio and the album, as we know it was born. The traditional album lasted for decades, continuing with the
cassette and then the CD, all the way until the 2000’s, when digital services
like iTunes popped up. This let people pick and choose what songs they wanted to buy from albums, ushering the singles market back. Now, with the rise of streaming services, how artists release music, whether it’s singles,
mixed tapes, or albums, has dramatically changed once again. (relaxed music) – Traditional album cycle is, you put out a single, maybe a second single, if you’re crazy you’ll
put a third single out before an album comes out. As a way of sort of teasing the larger product that is to arrive. – What are you seeing now
that’s different from that? – I think the best way of
putting it would be that sort of waterfall method, where
artist are putting out single, single, more singles, and
maybe a single every month, that maybe would lead
into an EP or an album and sometimes it will take years. – And this waterfall strategy
is used by tons of big artists like The Chain Smokers, Bebe
Rexha and Billie Eilish. – I’ve heard that term for
like three or four years now and its like whenever I go
to a meeting with my label and they’d be like, yeah you know we’ve been
thinking about this new strategy its called the waterfall strategy. You drop one song and
then three months later you drop another one and
then three months later you drop another one and
that’s the waterfall. I’m like wow okay, every
body got paid today great. (laughing) Like its just, its just, that’s just dropping songs. – What is the difference to you between a mix tape and an album? – Literally nothing (laughing) the ones recently that I did like “Number 1 Angel” and “Pop 2” I called them mixed tapes because then my label felt
more relaxed about them. Because I think for a major label, we’re making an album,
then we’re putting it out there’s expectations like we
want it to hit this, this, this like blah, blah, blah whatever. And so like for me the
mix tape thing like, I just wanted to like bang bang like two albums in one year, like lets go. – [Zane Lowe] Artists are putting out more and more individual
songs because you can. You don’t have to wait around anymore, get into a cue, wait for a record label or some company to tell you
its your turn up to bat. I think you’re seeing
younger artists coming up who were raised in a free space using things like Sound Cloud to a degree, watching iTunes democratize
the release of songs and now looking at streaming
services and go well, I can fill this with as
much or as little music as I want and I just want
to be creative all the time. I don’t necessarily want to wait. – [Female Narrator] Charli has a new album and in the five months leading up to it released the four stand alone singles; “Flash Pose”, “XXXTC”,
“Spicy” and “Dream Glow”. As well as six songs from the album including the hit “Blame It On Your Love”. Which roughly breaks down to
a single every twelve days. (techno music) – I think streaming really lends itself to artists being artists, streaming is determined by the user right the person using the platform so they can click on Billie Eilish and stream her as much as possible and they can also like go
to her Instagram account and like work out pretty quickly that she’s like a very
unique and cool person and its driven by like the kids and the people who are
listening to her music. Which I think is really good
for pop music and for culture because its not like a
bunch of like white males at radio stations and
record labels deciding like what the general
public should listen too. – The boundary between can people get my work
could not be lower right? Its at the lowest point in history. We could make a track right now and we could go put it on the internet we could get it on Spotify
almost immediately, that’s not the problem, the problem is how do you get peoples
attention once its out there? How am I going to be noticed in that crowd of music that’s being
released every single Friday? There’s like this tension between the business of music
and the artistry of music. There’s I think also a
lot of people crying wolf of like music is over because of this new streaming economy, songs are only going to be one minute and twenty five seconds long, they’re not going to be meaningful. But the thing about attention is that people get bored of fads, they get get bored of things
that are just pure tricks. You ultimately have to grab someones attention and sustain it. – How do you think streaming has changed the way people write music? – Oh extensively. I’ve heard from multiple song writers that they are actually thinking about the song structure differently because of how they are going to get paid via song streaming. (upbeat music) – [Female Narrator] Which means, streaming isn’t just changing the album, its changing songs. – [Charlie] Like if its not for me and if I’m writing like a song that is for another big pop artist, that’s where I get really
into my commercial zone. So I want to play all the games and I want this song to be huge, be the perfect little
package that will make it as most maximally appealing to every body. – So what are some of
those tricks that you use to make sure that the skip
rate is as low as possible? – Like chords within the
first thirty seconds, no like weird like self indulgent intro which basically are on all
the songs I put on my album. Hook at the top, in the intro, maybe even start with the chorus. I think that radio songs should
be like two minutes twenty, like get in and get out like everybody just get on with your life. – So you just try to front load as many of the catchy bits as possible? – I think so. The formula and tricks I think are used and paid attention too so
much in the streaming climate because its all about like making sure the person doesn’t change the song. Now its like all about
like did you like grab them in that first five seconds. – Do you think that what you’re doing represents more what people
will be doing in the future? – I kind of think its the norm now, I mean like Ariana
Grande is one of the most huge artists in the world and to me it at least it felt like she is like
doing what she wants. She just like put out an album and then like straight away
dropped like “Thank You, Next” and I think that’s
happening a lot more now. I think the new landscape really like lends itself to
artists who are unique and have a different language and a very specific vision in that sense I think streaming is good because it just opens everything up and every thing becomes
much more cross pollinated and there’s for so many you know genres and its not about radio which is great and so I think that’s a good thing, I think that’s great. (electronic music) – [Female Narrator] Thanks for watching this video is brought to you by “Loft Hotels” different by design. For more videos like this, like and subscribe. Before we talk about anything else, one thing that I’m dying to know about is why you call yourself Charlie XCX. – It was just my MSN screen
name when I was younger and then I would just make
MP3’s and put them on MySpace and I didn’t have a stage name so I just panicked and
used my MSN screen name and – [Woman With Pink Hair]
The rest is history. – The rest is history yeah. – God you’re such a child of the internet. – Yeah (laughing) – An MSN screen name and then
putting it up on MySpace.

100 thoughts on “Charli XCX interview: how artists optimize for streaming”

  1. I just download the songs that I liked on Spotify. Back in the day I used to buy CDs and there'd only be one or two songs that I like and never listen to the other songs at all.

  2. No longer are artists releasing albums, they are creating content and growing single by single just like Lewis Capaldi who only just now released an album. Spotify is the only way an emerging artist can break without the help of a major label. Sure, Spotify is part-owned by the major labels, but the Spotify algorithm can help an artist get 1 million streams without the need for any promotion budget. In our latest videos this is explained in detail.

  3. I stream all the music I listen to initially, when an album releases. Then, if I like it and I've listened to it 5-10 times, I buy the CD and replace the album of the streaming service with my own rip. If it is only a digital release, I buy that on Bandcamp or whatever platform it is on. I don't like that fact that I do not own the music I get via streaming services.

  4. I discover new music mostly through Twitter, Spotify or Apple Music. Tbh I prefer Spotify more than Apple Music as its more easier to use and has the best playlist. On the other hand, I hope Spotify will have REAL live radio just like Apple Music's.

  5. The "Waterfall strategy" is what Katy Perry doing right now. As listeners consumes music differently than ever before.

  6. The 'Waterfall' strategy is crucially about how the older tracks are bundled together when a new track is released … and on and on with each subsequent track until you bundle into a bigger product/album. It is not just releasing music frequently.

  7. First Charli XCX ft. Chris, now Charli XCX on The Verge, a lot of my favorite people are collaborating 🥰 Thanks for the video, very interesting topic

  8. I miss good full albums. Kendrick’s To Pimp a Butterfly is a great album experience but most of my favorite cohesively conceived albums are decades old now.

  9. thankfully streaming also means artists who make hour plus albums full of 9+ minute songs can also find an audience and fund their work. never have i enjoyed more new music, but never have i had more freedom to ignore the 'music industry'.

  10. i think it's interesting that the cultural shift for putting out music has changed from dropping a full album to releasing songs at a constants basis but tv shows changed from coming out in weekly episodes to a full season dropped at once

  11. Great vid. Its always the same story. Early adopters: this is new, I like it. Everyone else: its rubbish and killing the better way things were but then 5-10 years later, what a great time!

  12. Loving this music show verge producers. Thank you everyone involved. It's really informative and gives me access to a world I would never otherwise know about.

  13. I love charli but her saying music is marketing basically to hook anyone for longer than 15 seconds it just sounds lame and I think artists should have a higher standard when it comes to releasing music and hits, but that's just me.

  14. They talk about artists wanting to release when they want and not being constricted by the major label rules, but she's on a major label – how does that work?

  15. I think albuns and mixtapes SHOULD be different, in a way. Albums, in my opinion, should be composed of music about, roughly, the same subject. Mixtapes should be whatever song you wrote and wanted to put there, hence why it's called a mixtape. A mix of different songs, with different genres and such.

  16. Number 1 Angel is the album/mixtape that really made me start paying attention to Charli. It'll always be close to my heart. Pop 2 made me a stan. Charli ripped my wig off and sent it flying to Pluto and Neptune

  17. Please, more videos like that! It’s was interesting to get know the other side of music industry. Charlie is adorable. I would love to see second part

  18. You may notice that throughout the entire video, every single person was talking about strategy, monetary compensation, and limitations imposed by modern streaming and short attention spans. Not the art of making music. The art of music has been replaced with the industrialized manufacture of music, and it's pretty sad.

  19. I've heard a Charli song here and there over the years but this new album was the first thing I properly listened to. Now I'm seeing all these videos from her. I think I'm starting to Stan

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