JULIAN Casablancas, lead singer with the cult US band The Strokes, is not a fan of the streaming services that have shaken up the music industry.

He described them this week as a "waste of time" and said the reason that music had "gone so backward" were the advances in streaming technology.

"I don’t like them," Casablancas told Billboard magazine. "They’re the new MTV, the new gatekeepers, so labels make deals with them to basically… they’re all just ripping everyone off."

Though Casablancas is hardly the first musician to voice dislike of streaming services, music fans adore them.

A new report from the BPI, the UK record labels association, says that last year more than 90 billion plays took place on audio streaming services, an increase of 33.5% on the 2017 total. "We are now regularly seeing two billion streams per week occur," the BPI says.

The key subscription streaming platforms include Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music.

Streaming is the latest example of how technology can have a disruptive effect on music, and is further evidence of the radical change in the way we now consume music.

Streaming services pay royalties only for songs that are streamed for at least 30 seconds, and this has meant that many new songs containing samples or "ear-worm" hooks in the opening half-minute, so as to appeal to listeners.

On the other hand, it's said that paid-for streaming has resulting in artists making more money from their records for the first time in several years.

The BPI spoke this week of the public's "passion" for new music as well as its "enduring love affair" with classic catalogue.

The analysis examined the 15,000 most-played tracks of 2018 and gave each a "year of release" relating to the first day it was made publicly available.

Newer music dominated the top of the year-end chart. The top three tracks – God's Plan, by Drake; One Kiss, by Scots-born DJ Calvin Harris and Dua Lipa; and Shotgun, by George Ezra, enjoyed a collective total of more than 412 million plays between them.

Tracks originally released in the previous year, 2017, also claim some of the higher positions, including those from The Greatest Showman film soundtrack, Ed Sheeran's bestselling, Grammy-winning album, Divide, and Dua Lipa's self-titled debut album.

Tracks released in 2018 collectively accounted for 23% of all plays, with those first released the year before comprising 20%.

Encouragingly, however, music fans were also using streaming services to listen to "catalogue" songs (defined here by the BPI as songs released in or before 2016). Such songs accounted for 57% of plays on audio streaming services in 2018.

More than 500 tracks from this pre-2017 period were streamed over 10 million times.

Mariah Carey's festive classic, All I Want for Christmas, was in the top 100 streamed tracks of 2018.

Carey released the track in 1994. Olivia Olson covered it for the hit 2003 film, Love Actually.

Changing the landscape

STREAMING, the BPI says, is "undoubtedly" changing the landscape of music discovery.

"While new music can now potentially be found, heard, liked and 'saved' instantaneously, equally tracks can take much longer to break and momentum can take a while to build.

"Campaigns are being built over a significantly longer period than before and this steadier growth means that slightly older tracks now carry a greater weight of importance in analyses such as these than they might have done before. "Broadly the pattern is the same, however – collectively, tracks from the most recent years account for the greater share of plays."

That said, tracks from 2011 (including an Adele hit) were played more times than tracks from 2012.

And of all the years in the noughties, songs from 2006, including Snow Patrol's Chasing Cars, claimed the greatest play count.

The third most-streamed song last year dates from 2003 – Mr Brightside, by US band The Killers.

The sixties

THE sixties are commonly regarded as being a great era for groundbreaking music on both sides of the Atlantic, but songs from the decade made up a mere 4.1% of "catalogue" plays last year.

However, 13 tracks were played more than 10 million times, among them Van Morrison's Brown Eyed Girl (1967), Neil Diamond's Sweet Caroline (1969) and Jimi Hendrix's All Along The Watchtower (1968).

Only one was played more than 20 million times, however – The Jackson 5's I Want You Back, which was originally released in 1969 and, as was the case in 2017, was the most-played song from the sixties.

Big-screen boosts

SONGS that get exposure in high-profile films often end up doing exceptionally well on streaming services.

Queen's 1975 epic hit, Bohemian Rhapsody, ended up as the most-streamed song from that decade as a result of the Queen/Freddie Mercury biopic of the same name.

The film was one of the biggest of the year, winning four Oscars, including Best Actor for Rami Malek, and it led to no fewer than nine Queen songs ending up in the streaming top 1,000 at the end of the year.

Other streaming hits inspired by inclusion in films were The Spinners’ Rubberband Man, which cropped up in the film Avengers: Infinity War, and Pat Benatar’s We Belong, which was used in Deadpool 2.

The blanket TV coverage of last summer's World Cup in Russia prompted an increase in popularity of such songs as Fat Les’s Vindaloo, New Order’s World In Motion and Baddiel & Skinner’s Three Lions.

The seventies

THE resurgence of Queen's Bohemian Rhapsody (see above) meant the song dislodged the Earth Wind & Fire classic, September, from its claim to be the most-played track from the 1970s.

ELO's Mr Blue Sky (1977) was second, with another Queen track – Don't Stop Me Now – in third.

Songs from 1977 accumulated the greatest play count, with tracks from such globally famous acts as Fleetwood Mac (who released their Rumours album in February of that year), The Eagles (Hotel California, 1976) and Stevie Wonder (Superstition, 1972) ranking highly.

Coining it in

SALES of CDs continued to nose-dive last year.

The BPI said in January that sales declined by 23% in 2018, with increasing numbers of consumers openly preferring streaming services.

Figures disclosed that 32 million CDs were sold last year, a drop of some 100 million on 2008. It also represented a a drop of 9.6 million year-on-year.

Vinyl had been enjoying a resurgence but its 2018 sales of 4.2 million records sold was a rise of just 1.6%.

It was reported last month that music streaming services generated more than half of the income earned by record labels in the UK last year.

Streaming platforms operated by Spotify, Amazon Music and Apple Music achieved revenues of £468m in the UK last year, 54% of the £865.5m total income for the recorded music industry.

Geoff Taylor, chief executive BPI & Brit Awards, said last week: “The recorded music industry in the UK is showing consistent growth, driven by investment in new talent, innovative global marketing, and offering music fans outstanding choice, convenience and value.

"The outlook for the future remains positive, but there is still a long way to go to recapture lost ground. Long-term growth depends on robust Government action to tackle the Value Gap, promote investment, ensure online platforms take responsible action to reduce infringement, and secure the future talent pipeline by giving state school pupils the opportunity to discover and develop their talent.”