Spotify, YouTube, Amazon look to oldies for new music streaming subscribers

Music streaming services are trying to use older music to draw in new subscribers, according to a recent report.

The Wall Street Journal reported that companies like Spotify, Amazon and Google-owned YouTube are creating executive positions devoted to promoting older music as a way to attract broader audiences, not just young people.

Meanwhile, companies like Apple and SiriusXM's Pandora already have those positions.

According to Spotify’s head of catalog, Johan Lagerlöf, the company is working specifically to draw in older subscribers.

“This older demographic needs to feel at home when they enter Spotify for the first time, because if they don’t feel at home the first time, they won’t come back a second time,” Lagerlöf told the Journal.


Music streaming services like Spotify are trying to use older music to draw in new subscribers, according to a new report from The Wall Street Journal. (iStock)

The formal term for the older songs is “catalog,” which formally means songs released more than 18 months ago.

Ticker Security Last Change Change %
SPOT SPOTIFY TECHNOLOGY SA 308.16 +7.65 +2.55%
GOOGL ALPHABET INC. 174.99 +1.44 +0.83%
AMZN AMAZON.COM INC. 180.75 -0.30 -0.17%
AAPL APPLE INC. 189.98 +3.10 +1.66%
SIRI SIRIUS XM HOLDINGS INC. 2.75 +0.02 +0.73%

According to Nielsen Music analyst David Bakula, streaming services are focused more on catalog music than they ever have been. Currently, about 65 percent of music consumption on streaming services is catalog, the Journal reported.

Part of that is because subscription services can point toward older favorites rather than new hits since sales aren’t the primary focus of those services.

“In a buying world, that recommendation doesn’t exist,” Bakula told the Journal. “The lift of these songs is living longer than it would have in a sales world.”


Another drive to streaming older music is the recent release of music-focused documentaries and biopics, according to the Journal.