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  • Siren Creative

Nostalgia listening during lockdown - and how to work with it

Updated: May 4, 2020

Listened to any Pandemic! At The Disco playlists lately?

You might have noticed a spate of recent articles pondering a new trend towards nostalgia during this period of lockdown. People stuck at home are breaking out Gameboys, watching John Hughes' movies and baking comfort food from scratch. And according to data from streaming services, this includes our music listening habits.

Spotify reported a 54% increase in user-made nostalgia themed playlists during the first week of April. Initially we saw a lot of pandemic themed playlisting - definitely more than one Pandemic! At The Disco out there, and The Police's Don't Stand So Close To Me saw a huge 135% spike in plays. But outside of the opportunity for puns, what's driving this golden age living - and what does it mean for those releasing new music?

Fiona Apple reckons that "you can hear our sad brains screaming: Give us something familiar, something similar to what we know already, that will keep us steady. Steady, steady going nowhere". And it's a sound point; most people have never experienced this level of unknowingness, this inability to move. Inherently we feel like we're in stasis.

There is also the thought that when overloaded with information or emotion, humans find it hard to engage with new information. Encapsulated by the idea of 'comfort viewing'; when we're sad or distressed we often turn to shows or movies that we know intimately. Usually it's something light or entertaining, with minimal stress. Which is exactly where music fans are turning during lockdown.

Interestingly, music from the 1950's has seen an enormous revival. The concept of golden age living relates to an essentially rose-tinted view of a bygone era. For most music fans in 2020, they have only experienced older music through the filter of romanticised movies or TV shows. Combined with continual recycling of fashions and the vinyl revival in Urban Outfitters, bands like The Cure or Fleetwood Mac take on a special place in today's culture. Basically, Woodstock '69 seems like the perfect antidote to lockdown right now.

When it come's to 90's music and throwbacks from the 2000's, you just have to look at streaming user demographics. Across the top three DSPs (Spotify, Apple, Pandora) the largest user age range is consistently 25-34 year olds. So it's an easy jump to what music was playing during our fondest memories and first experiences.

It's also worth noting that music has in technically changed over the last decade; it's got sadder and slower. In 2001 Beyoncé, Outkast and pop punk ruled the charts... I mean, let's cast our minds back to Wheatus. Fast forward and Billie Eilish and Lewis Capaldi are taking the top spots. Obviously these are brilliant artists, however it's a strong likelihood that audiences are looking for something more uplifting during this time.

So what does this mean for new music coming up during lockdown?

There have been a few industry pieces published already on this topic, including a marketing playbook from Believe specifically for artists in lockdown. Here are the key takeaways for whether you should go ahead with a planned release;

/ If the foundation of your release plan is digital marketing and engagement, if you can still rely on your audience on DSPs and social media... go for it!

/ If you rely on physical sales or your release is a vehicle for a live tour, see if you can postpone - or transfer any committed marketing resources to a digital campaign.

They also recommend keeping an eye of streaming trends as they develop. But in terms of continuing your digital marketing as a new artist, what can you do with this nostalgia trend?

/ Firstly, don't overlook the DSPs as networking or content building platforms. The moment for pandemic playlists is probably over, but artist curated playlists are a great way to connect with your audiences. This is also good moment to reacquaint yourself with who your audience is - How old are they? Where do they live? Use that information and look at your own musical influences to curate some great playlists.

/ You can also use your socials for throwbacks and inspiration - images of artists who've influenced you, or let your fans know what you've been listening to.

/ If you're a DJ or producer, look into putting up Soundcloud mixes with a good blend of old and new.

For us, we're all about 2000's indie and pop punk from our high school years right now. Add in some 70's rock because our parents listened to it, and because Woodstock does look like a nice time when you're stuck at home.


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