Streaming audio is one of the few digital services that did not experience a boom during the pandemic. They did grow, but at a more modest pace than gaming, teleworking tools, and even video streaming. Nevertheless, Sony Music Brazil is way ahead of that curve.
Since the beginning of the pandemic, the company has seen a growth of over 5,400% in Filtr Brazil, a platform that originally emerged as a global brand of playlists, and which currently functions as a “music community”, bringing together artists and fans, working in event production, licensing and advertising. Results have been so good that Sony recently decided to invest on a new e-commerce channel linked to this division.
The figure, even considering it derives from a low base, draws even more attention when comparing it to the market in general. A Comscore survey indicates that, during the first half of 2020, the average daily consumption of audio streaming increased 32% over the same period last year.
At the beginning of the pandemic, as soon as the first measures of social isolation were implemented, the volume of audio streaming hours at home increased, while consumption during commuting fell, a move that was also highlighted by Spotify in its latest quarterly results.
“Filtr Brazil’s performance has been excellent, far beyond what we expected. We have grown our audience consistently, producing and posting content daily,” says Wilson Lannes, vice president of Sony Music Brazil, to LABS. “We started practically from scratch in March this year and today we are more than 220,000 followers on the YouTube channel alone.”
Sony Music’s good performance in Brazil contrasts with the group’s decision to end the electronics manufacturing and the division’s business in the country. In a statement issued last Tuesday, the company said it would close its factory located in the northern city of Manaus, but would keep technical assistance services for TVs, audio equipment, cameras and other devices. Sony stressed that the decision does not affect its gaming, professional solutions and musical entertainment branches, which will remain in Brazil.
Filtr currently has more than 55 million followers worldwide, 8.5 million in Brazil alone. With good numbers in the local market, Sony Music Brazil launched in mid-September the online Filtr Store, which sells exclusive pieces, developed in partnership with artists and that will only be available on its e-commerce website.
“Filtr Store avoids traditional layouts and offers collectibles. We offer something 100% original on it and artists are directly involved in the creation of each item, which makes the store another channel for the art of Sony Music talents”, says Lannes.
Various touch points with the public
The Filtr Brazil community has other pillars to meet audiences, such as Filtr Game, which sets targets to users in exchange for benefits; Filtr Live, a division for events and shows; and original Filtr podcast series; and the Filtr Brasil channel on YouTube, which in the last few months has promoted shows with artists Samuel Rosa, Lagum, Rogério Flausino, Pretinho da Serrinha, Cat Dealers, Dilsinho, Natiruts, among others, in the #FILTRemcasa series.
According to the executive, the audio market keeps its accelerated growth, at over 30% this year. At the beginning of quarantines, there was indeed a decline in consumption of audio streaming, but without a corresponding reduction in the number of subscribers. And Sony benefited from another movement: the expressive increase in the consumption of video streaming, which led to more views of video clips, webcastings and music shows on online platforms. “Now, consumption levels of audio streaming have returned to normal and the video format continues to perform above levels seen before the quarantine”, says Lannes.
New habits have emerged
Brazilian fans’ enthusiasm for live-streaming musical performances has cooled if compared to the stratospheric levels registered in the first weeks of social distancing, when local artists broke global audience records. Google Trends data revealed a 67% drop in searches for live music webcasts in Brazil in July compared to April.
Lannes reckons that live webcastings do not replace the experience of live shows, but have consolidated themselves as a new working format for artists and consumption for fans. “Since March, Sony Music Brazil has attracted millions of people to more than 20 live streamings, sharing unique moments with their favorite artists in country, pop, rock, electronic, samba, pagode and gospel genres,” he enumerates.
In addition to the new habit of watching webcastings, audio consumers have changed their behavior in other ways, intrinsically linked to increased time spent at home and reduced commuting time to work, school, leisure and other external activities.
“Consequences were seen in an increased consumption of certain musical genres, such as children’s music, instrumental music, and demand for the catalog of established artists”, says the vice president of Sony Music Brasil. “The artists who kept a presence with their audiences through webcastings also noticed an increase in the consumption of their music.”
It is interesting to note that the music-business real was one of the first in which physical media was disrupted, in a phenomenon that began almost two decades before the pandemic.
“Today the physical market represents less than 1% of the total market. And the digital market has been growing at rates above 30% per year”, says Lannes, who reckons that it is possible, in the future, to create a specific market niche for the CD, following the steps of vinyl LPs. “But today it is already difficult to explain to young people what it was like to choose music on a CD-player or even what life was like without the possibility of an immediate choice among thousands of songs.”