Hit Or Miss? (aka Why We Know Sweet Home Alabama)

Last week, from the little radio on a colleague’s desk, I heard the dulcet tones of Lindy Layton, as lead vocalist on the 1990 Beats International hit Won’t Talk About It. Never heard of it? Or her? Or them? That’s not entirely surprising—it was 27 years ago, after all.

In mid-1990 UK outfit Beats International just missed the Australian Top 10 with their début single Dub Be Good To Me; Won’t Talk About It was the follow-up, but it stalled at number seventy and was largely forgotten, as were Beats International and poor Lindy. Of course, both songs had been hugely successful in the UK, and because I was into anything that was big in the UK back then, Won’t Talk About It became—and remains—one of my favourite songs of all time.

Somehow, it’s made its way onto the playlist of one of those “90s, noughties and now” classic hits radio stations, in spite of the fact that it was never actually a ‘hit’ here—at least not in the most commonly accepted meaning of the word.

But lovers of pop culture have always been a fickle bunch. What’s red-hot one minute is often passé the next—or vice-versa, depending on which end of the timeline you’re looking at it from. For pop music, in particular, it’s near impossible to define the required ingredients for even the most fleeting success, let alone lasting popularity. This makes some of today’s

For pop music, in particular, it’s near impossible to define the required ingredients for even the most fleeting success, let alone lasting popularity—which makes some of today’s favourite “classic hits” something of a mystery.

Said “classics” belong to that disparate collective of songs that get the punters at karaoke bars and work Christmas shindigs a bit too moist. You know them—the ones that get excitable folk shrieking and whooping and falling over each other to get onto the parquetry, where they proceed to kick up their dancing heels, badly mimimg select portions of misheard lyrics, and making comically exaggerated eye and hand gestures. Go on, you can admit it: we’ve all been there.

The tendency to call them “classics” leads to all kinds of misremembered truths. Unless you’re au fait with such things, you’d probably just assume they were all huge hits when first released and that they’ve simply stood the test of time, as pop music sometimes does. Why else would people who weren’t even born when a song was originally released still love it today?

It’s not an entirely unreasonable assumption—but neither is it entirely correct.

While many pop music gems somehow defy the transient nature of pop-culture, some of the songs that now have gaggles of girls (and guys) drunkenly singing along while dancing around piles of shoes and clutch purses, were never actually big hits at all; some of them were never even released.

How, then, did so many of these golden oldies attain “classic” status if they were never all that popular to begin with? And is this a phenomenon we can expect to see more of in the future?

Perhaps unsurprisingly, in the olden days, the success of any release was, with very few exceptions, almost entirely down to radio, such was that medium’s might over many decades.

The Buggles conjectured that video had already killed the radio star by 1979, but the end of radio’s hit-making dominance was still more than two decades away. In many ways, radio and video worked together to fuel some of the biggest album sales of the 80s and 90s.

The passing of time has, in some cases, seen the reputation of an iconic million-selling album morph into the mistaken impression that all of its singles (real or imagined) were also hugely successful—et voilà! A “classic hit” is created.

But not all the high-rotation favourites of today’s Classic Hits radio playlists originally featured on immensely successful albums either, so how they achieved their latter-day “classic” status is a bit of a mystery.

Let’s take a look at the evidence…

Exhibit A: Cold Chisel’s 1978 début Khe Sanh. It was a massive number 1 hit for months and months and months, right? Wrong! Khe Sanh just missed the Top 40 on its first release, radio airplay was banned on account of its “controversial lyrics” and the album it came from—the band’s—stalled outside the Top 30. Eighteen months later, a new recording of the song appeared on the band’s second album, which flew off record store shelves in huge volumes.

Cold Chisel went on to immense success before splitting in late-1983, but lead singer Jimmy Barnes’ solo career took off the following year, so it’s perhaps no coincidence that Khe Sanh became colloquially known as Australia’s ‘unofficial national anthem’, despite never having been a massive seller in its own right.


Exhibit B: the four singles from Fleetwood Mac’s bazillion-selling 1977 album Rumours. They must’ve been the biggest hits of the 70s, right? Wrong! The album outsold all others in Australia that year and it’s still the world’s 8th-highest-selling album of all time. But while none of the singles generated huge sales of their own, all four of them—Go Your Own Way (chart peak #20), Dreams (#19), Don’t Stop (#30) and You Make Loving Fun (#65)—certainly pulled their weight where Rumours‘ overall sales are concerned.

Their undoubted contribution to its success was textbook in terms of promotional singles doing their job. Those four songs are still among the most recognizable pop tunes of the 70s, and Fleetwood Mac’s perennial radio presence ever since means they’re all considered “classics”.


Exhibit C: some songs are successful just because they are, others almost by default thanks to the popularity of the artist or album (or the movie, TV show or advertising campaign) that spawned them. And then there’s Lynyrd Skynyrd’s 1974 single, Sweet Home Alabamathe “classic hit” status of which has more arcane origins. It was the band’s first U.S. Top 10, but it was never released in Australia. The album it came from barely caused a blip on the Australian charts and the band itself never had a high-profile here at all.

Even after a third of the band was killed in a plane crash in 1977—a tragedy which virtually guarantees sales for even the least-known of artists in today’s globalised world—any significant increase in local Lynyrd Skynyrd sales was still years away. Yet somehow, Sweet Home Alabama consistently made it onto radio playlists throughout the 80s and 90s—alors, a “classic hit” without ever having been one.


Exhibit D: they’d had some success over several years, but in 1977 The Eagles’ Hotel California only reached #60 on the Australian singles chart. It was the eighth Eagles single to chart locally, but none of the previous seven had been big hits—although they’d all gone significantly higher than #60. Even though this one went Top 10 virtually everywhere else in the world—it even hit number five in New Zealand—somehow it tanked in Australia.

The album of the same name, which the song came from, reached #1 six months before the single was released. While the two previous Eagles LPs had seen notable success, neither was exactly a ‘massive’ hit; Hotel California, on the other hand, spent twelve consecutive weeks at #1 and charted for an entire year—a bona fide massive hit, then, and very possibly the source of the song’s eventual “classic hit” status as well.


Exhibit E: seven Pink Floyd albums had charted in Australia by the end of 1979, the first three of which were relatively minor hits, while the last four all reached the Top 2, with two of them hitting #1. So it’s surprising to learn that Pink Floyd’s first appearance on the Australian singles chart was with Another Brick In The Wall in February 1980; no Pink Floyd single had ever charted here previous to that.

Eight years earlier Money, from the near-million-selling Dark Side Of The Moon album, charted in Europe and went to #13 in the U.S., but it was never released at home in the UK, nor here in Australia. Yet somehow it’s gone on to become one of Pink Floyd’s most recognised tunes. The band only achieved relatively modest success beyond 1980. There were no hugely successful compilations, and there certainly wasn’t another juggernaut on the scale of Dark Side Of The Moon so, presumably, Money’s “classic hit” status is solely due to the success of that album.


The 80s and 90s offered their fair share of “classics” that were also driven to radio either by volume-selling albums, or for reasons just as mysterious as for some of their earlier brethren.

Exhibit F: pretty much anything by Crowded House. There’s a long list of Crowded House songs that were never significant hits in their own right, but which nonetheless wound up indelibly etched on the Australian music psyche, thanks in very large part to ongoing TV and radio exposure and some massive album sales. Two albums by Australia’s

Two albums by Australia’s favourite adopted Kiwis are among our biggest sellers of all time. But, believe it or not, only three of the 24 Crowded House singles released between 1986 and 2016 actually made the Top 10—Don’t Dream It’s Over peaked at #8 in 1987, Better Be Home Soon reached #2 in 1988, and Everything Is Good For You (arguably one of the least-recalled Crowded House singles) spent a single week at #10 on début in 1996.

So what about all those other Crowded House songs everyone seems to know at least part of? There was also Weather With You, Something So Strong, Into TemptationFall At Your Feet, World Where You LiveFour Seasons In One Day, It’s Only Natural, Now We’re Getting Somewhere and Distant Sun—almost inevitably you know some part of each and every one of those songs, without any of them ever having been huge hits.

Exhibit G: anything by Hall & Oates. Hall & Oates have been the darlings of AOR/MOR radio ever since their releases were brand new. They only ever had two Top 10 singles (Rich Girl in 1977 and Maneater in 1983) and one Top 10 album in Australia. And four of their best-known hits—Kiss On My List (1981), Private Eyes (1981), I Can’t Go For That (No Can Do) (1982) and Out Of Touch (1984)—all missed the Top 10.

But with their inoffensive melodies and catchy singable choruses, they achieved almost permanent “classic hits” rotation.


Exhibit H: Hit Me With Your Best Shot by Pat Benatar. Released in early 1981, Hit Me With Your Best Shot was the second single from Pat Benatar’s second album and her fourth single to hit the local charts. Thirty-five years later it feels like it’s always been around—surely it was a massive hit, a cracker classic of the 80s?—and yet, it only went as high as #9 in the U.S. and, despite spending four months on the Australian singles chart, it stalled at #33 here.

Such was the perceived retro popularity of Hit Me With Your Best Shot that it was among the tracks released on the 2008 interactive video game Guitar Hero III, though no doubt more due to its U.S. hit status than anything else… which, come to think of it, is possibly responsible for the “classic hit” status of a load of other songs too.


Exhibit I: Sounds Of Then (This Is Australia) by GANGgajang. When you think of iconic Aussie ‘theme’ songs, a few stand out above the rest. There’s our actual and quite glorious national anthem Advance Australia Fair (replete with second verse that hardly anyone knows the words to) and, of course, the aforementioned unofficial national anthem Khe Sanh. We also have the 1988 Bicentennial song Celebration Of A Nation, and that favourite of marketers and advertisers across the land, We Are Australian, a song so utterly patriotic that there’ve been multiple pitches for it to become our national anthem. A handful of other songs, like I Still Call Australia Home, are notable for being the one-time signature tunes for Tourism Australian, the Rugby World Cup, the 1987 America’s Cup, the AFL, the NRL, Telstra, Qantas… basically, anything quintessentially Australian.

And then there’s this little mid-80s pop gem, from slightly obscure Australian band GANGgajang. It featured in a Coke ad in 1993, it was the theme for the Nine Network’s new year promo for 1996, and it’s also found its way onto numerous film and television soundtracks over the years. Yet in early 1986 it became the most successful of GANGgajang’s ten charting singles by ascending to the dizzying heights of #35.


Exhibit J
: Show Me Love by Robin S. Show Me Love was a stock-standard 120bpm house tune that scaled the lofty heights of #78 in Australia in February 1994; unless you frequented nightclubs at the time, or were especially enamoured of dance music, you probably never heard it. Robin S never charted in Australia again but, elsewhere in the world, it seems Show Me Love still had legs. Aside from a handful of other songs, Robin S largely stuck with remixes and reissues of that one track: Show Me Love ’97, Show Me Love 99, Show Me Love 2002, Show Me Love 2006, Show Me Love 2008, Show Me Love 2009… talk about milking it.

But since 2003 Show Me Love has also been sampled in at least 17 other tracks—you might recall its keyboard riff throughout Jason Derulo’s 2011 Top 5 hit Don’t Wanna Go Home; it’s also been covered by countless other artists over the past decade, including Sam Feldt’s version which reached the Australian Top 20 in 2015. It’s a pretty impressive roll call for a song with a “classic hit” status that’s largely due to its success for others, rather than for its original artist.


Exhibit K: Angels by Robbie Williams. Williams had never had a significant hit here until Rock DJ went to #4 in 2000. Angels had been six UK singles earlier; it, and the intervening five singles, had all made the UK Top 4. Angels hit the UK chart at the end of 1997, where it bucked the trend of the day by taking nine weeks to hit its peak and spent 20 weeks on the chart—nearly twice as long as most singles charted at the time. Stranger still, it amassed another 46 chart weeks by the end of 1999, a feat virtually unheard of at the time—and every one of those weeks off the back of physical sales alone.

Angels was already the favourite singalong hit of drunken Brits by the time it belatedly charted here in April 1998; then, it just kinda bounced up and down between #100 and the #40 peak it achieved nearly two years later, after 24 very interrupted chart weeks. In December 2005 Williams’ Greatest Hits was certified 7xPlatinum, having made the upper reaches of the annual list of highest-selling albums two years running; by then, Australians were also loving Angels instead.


So can this whole thing of ‘old-song-becomes-classic-without-ever-being-a-hit’ carry on? Will today’s tweens, teens, and 20-somethings see the same kind of “classic hits” we see today, in another twenty or thirty years?

On the balance of probabilities, considering the variable outcomes of Exhibits A thru K, I’d say the answer is “probably not”. So many of the examples cited above seem to be considered classics on the basis of either album success, or ongoing radio airplay.

But albums hardly sell in any significant volumes anymore, and radio airplay has been largely superseded by YouTube and streaming services; it’s difficult to see how today’s “classic hits” would ever have evolved under those conditions.

Still, Aussie music lovers across the country are safe in the knowledge that Sweet Home Alabama will still have them singing along, at least to its chorus, for years and years to come… even if they’re not entirely sure how or why they actually know it.

Internet Killed The Radio Star

Last week was record-breaking on pop music charts all over the world. It was also quite a telling week regarding the state of music in the digital age.

Here in Australia, Ed Sheeran’s third album ÷ (aka, Divide) debuted at number one, already certified 2xPlatinum for first week sales of more than 140,000 units. During the 90s and early-2000s plenty of albums racked up multi-platinum first-week sales and debuted at number one, but these days it’s a double-whammy that almost never happens; in fact, it’s a feat only achieved so far this decade by two other albums.

Sheeran also set a chart precedent ten weeks ago when Divide’s first two singles were released at the same time and debuted at numbers one and two; no other artist had ever sent two singles to the Top 2 of the Australian chart, on début, in the same week.

Six weeks later, while Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill were still on the two top rungs, the third track from Divide, How Would You Feel, also crashed into the chart at number two, pushing Castle On The Hill back to number three; the same artist occupying the entire chart podium had only ever been seen twice before—when Beatlemania took off in 1964, and, inexplicably, when Karise Eden won The Voice in 2012.

Last week, the remaining thirteen tracks from Divide all debuted within the Top 40. Yep, every single track.

And if you think that sounds weird—it certainly is, at the very least, highly unusual—then spare a thought for Irish music lovers: the entire Top 16 of last week’s Irish singles chart was the tracks from Divide!

Shape Of You and Castle On The Hill were, officially, Divide’s first two singles, while How Would You Feel was designated as a ‘promotional single’. And the other thirteen? Well, at least for now, they’re just tracks on the album. And this is where the modern way of things starts getting a tad confusing, if you actually try to understand how it all works. So let’s forget the complexities of the present for a bit, and take a step back in time for some context.

In the olden days (but, really, not that long ago at all) a single was a single, and in 99% of cases its prime objective was to promote album sales. A single had a physical release in at least one format, it was played on radio (sometimes) and on music TV shows (sometimes) and it only hit the chart if enough people went to a retail outlet and paid for it; subsequent singles from the same album would follow more-or-less the same pattern. Total sales volumes and resultant chart positions were determined by a physical exchange of cash for product—a CD, a cassette, or a black vinyl platter that, as if by magic, had somehow been infused with music. It was a pretty straightforward process: 1 payment = 1 exchange = 1 sale. 100 payments = 100 sales, 35,000 payments = 35,000 sales and, in the latter case, a gold record accreditation.

It was also extremely rare in the olden days for any non-single album track to ever see the light of day on TV or radio.

In the olden days, albums were always the big-hitters. Other than any singles already released, we were largely unaware of an album’s content until we actually bought it—and so, there was a vested interest in buying it; invariably, we enjoyed some tracks more than others, and there were sometimes even tracks that we didn’t like much at all. But we still viewed an album as a body of work and we listened to each track in the order in which it appeared on the album; even in the age of random play and ‘shuffle’, some music lovers stood firm in the belief that this was the order in which the artist wanted us to hear the album.

These days, the content of any album is readily accessible online, at least to ‘preview’, without necessitating any kind of purchase whatsoever. Individual album tracks can mostly be paid for and downloaded, whether they’re a single or not; in fact, as far as digital downloads go, these days there’s virtually no discernible difference between an album track and an actual single, other than the fact that some singles are available before an album’s release and some have their own bespoke cover art; some also contain additional tracks or remixes, both of which usually leads to an ‘EP’ designation and a price hike.

These days, album tracks, as with singles, can also be streamed. While downloads count towards a track’s total sales just as physical purchases did in the olden days, the part played by streaming involves a more complex equation. According to ARIA CEO Dan Rosen, it goes something like this: “Say for example it was 175 streams equating to one sale, once you work out that conversion you tally up all your streams, divide it by that number, tally up all your iTunes downloads and add the two and that’s the number for the ARIA chart”… clear as mud, right?

These days, there are virtually no physical sales of singles—although, the vinyl revival of the past few years has seen that changing, if only in small numbers. Specifically in the case of the thirteen Ed Sheeran tracks, though, it was the enormous number of times they were streamed that saw all thirteen of them hit the chart at once; purchased downloads only accounted for the tiniest proportion of this seemingly bizarre outcome. Such is the way the charts are calculated these days that three of the tracks made it all the way to the Top 10, joining the first two singles that were still sitting pretty at the top of the chart—and streaming volumes just keep getting higher and higher, to the point where digital services accounted for more than 60% of total market value in 2015.

Meanwhile, Divide, saw an almost 50/50 split between physical CD sales and digital downloads, which in itself is also quite unusual for any album these days.

Measures of success have also shifted. In the olden days, whether a single was successful or not was largely inconsequential as long as the album it was promoting sold like hot cakes; and if it did, then even the least successful of singles could go on to be fondly recalled as a massive hit.

In 1970s and 80s Australia, full-length LPs were still relatively expensive. Nevertheless, Australians snapped up albums like Cold Chisel’s East, ABBA’s Arrival and Fleetwood Mac’s Rumours in massive numbers; it was as if everyone everywhere knew every word of every song on every big-selling album. Some of those albums also featured singles that were hugely successful in their own right, although that certainly wasn’t always the case, but at any rate albums were the artists’—and the record companies’—bread and butter; singles were merely promotional tools.

Fast forward a decade or two and the radio producers and presenters who were air-guitaring and lip-syncing to all those songs in the 70s and 80s were now adding them to their playlists; even if they were never big hits to start with, their status as pop and rock classics was now assured, thanks almost entirely to radio and music video airplay decades after their release.

But there was trouble brewing. Long before the Internet started to skew how we watch TV and movies, it also had a significant hand in the slow demise—or, at very least, the destructive realignment—of the music industry.

In the olden days, the only way to hear those non-single album tracks was to preview the album at a retail outlet—some larger retailers, like Virgin and HMV, offered ‘listening posts’, others had a stereo at the counter to serve the same purpose, while smaller stores would simply play whatever you wanted to hear through their speakers, in turn allowing everyone else in the shop to hear and thusly pour scorn all over your questionable taste in music… or was that just mine? In most cases, though, the only way some people ever heard those tracks was to actually buy the album.

Since 1998 the Internet has given rise to a constant evolution of how we consume music. Today, anyone can go online, preview album tracks, largely ignore them, buy individual songs, or use streaming services to listen to some or all of any given album, the latter of which avoids a purchase and results in artist royalties that are, at best, variable and, at worst, contemptuously minimal—for example, a track apparently needs at least 1,000 streams on Spotify to earn the artist a paltry $1.

Industry bodies have acknowledged artists’ record sales for decades. In Australia, the first sales accreditations were established by record companies in the 1970s. The numbers weren’t always consistent between the companies and levels were sometimes different between singles and albums but, generally, a Gold accreditation was awarded for 50,000 sales and Platinum for 100,000 sales. The physical award that was presented to the artist was generally a gold or platinum-coloured copy of the vinyl disc, in a great big frame with a plaque—thus the terms “gold record” and “platinum record”.

Having taken end-to-end management of the national charts in-house during 1988, in 1989 ARIA revised accreditation levels down to 35,000 for Gold and 70,000 for Platinum—possibly something to do with the organisation having been created by a conglomerate of the four major local record companies in 1983.

Even though the reduced numbers meant greater recognition of singles sales, albums were still far and away the biggest hitters. Throughout the 90s, high-selling albums regularly achieved certifications of between 5 and 10xPlatinum, while the really big ones—Alanis Morissette’s Jagged Little Pill, Savage Garden’s 1997 début, and Shania Twain’s Come On Over—were certified up to 15xPlatinum. Earlier mega-sellers, like The Best Of ABBA, the Grease soundtrack, Michael Jackson’s Thriller, John Farnham’s Whispering Jack, Meat Loaf’s Bat Out Of Hell and Dire Straits’ Brothers In Arms, have all, over time, been accredited for sales in excess of 20xPlatinum.

In 1993, Whitney Houston’s mega-hit I Will Always Love You became the first single ever accredited 4xPlatinum by ARIA, recognising local sales of more than 280,000 units. Five years later Elton John smashed that record when his tribute to Princess Diana, Candle In The Wind, achieved an unprecedented 14xPlatinum certification, a record that went unbroken for seventeen years. But, under ‘normal’ sales conditions, Houston’s achievement technically stood for two decades, although it looked like it was about to be bettered multiple times before then—Lou Bega’s Mambo No. 5 and The Offspring’s Pretty Fly (For A White Guy) had also joined the 4xPlatinum club in 1999, but it wasn’t until 2003 when, after twelve weeks at number one, Eminem’s Lose Yourself was well on its way to becoming ARIA’s first 5xPlatinum single. Then… nothing. But finally, after the best part of a decade of a consistently small volume of digital sales, Lose Yourself was, all at once, awarded seventh Platinum certification (and therefore, by inference, its fifth and sixth) in mid-2013.

But by then, a 7xPlatinum accreditation for a single had become so commonplace that, in July 2014, LMFAO’s Party Rock Anthem was certified a whopping 15xPlatinum—not only making it the only single to ever sell more than a million units in this country, but also placing it just behind the only eight full-length albums that have ever sold more. And since 2013, ten other singles have also been certified between 10 and 13xPlatinum.

That’s how much things have changed, certainly since 1993, but most significantly in just the past five years.

In the olden days albums were, by far, the bigger sellers—singles just propped them up—but these days it’s the reverse. As a general rule, singles now sell by the (digital) truckload, sometimes bouncing around the chart for up to two years. But long-player sales have been so depleted that it’s not uncommon for an album by a niche artist to début at number one off the back of a couple of thousand sales, before disappearing from the chart altogether within three or four weeks.

The divergence between olden days volumes and today’s—and the very reason why Divide’s opening week tally of 140,000 units is so significant—is crystal clear with a few historical comparisons. In December 2003, for example, Guy Sebastian’s Just As I Am had opening week sales of 164,000 units; in 2006, Anthony Callea’s A New Chapter couldn’t edge any higher than number 45 with sales of nearly 5,500 units. By January 2014, the entire Top 500 albums combined sold just under 182,000 units; in March 2015, one-time superstar Madonna’s Rebel Heart debuted at number one on less than 7,000 sales, before nosediving to a measly 1,300 sales in its second week; three months later, just 3,777 sales pushed Ed Sheeran’s previous album X back to number one; and even in the UK last week, Sheeran’s new album sold more units than the rest of the Top 500 albums combined.

As well, the hugely reduced volume of overall album sales results in a whole lot of super weird in/out up/down activity on the albums chart that simply wasn’t seen before about five years ago; ultimately, it calls into question the relevance, or even the validity, of the chart, particularly given outcomes like the one seen last week with Ed Sheeran—for example, why should non-single tracks appear on a singles chart, rather than their streaming and download volumes being combined to reflect sales of the album they feature on? Surely that makes more sense and it couldn’t be that hard, could it? I mean, I’m no mathematician or statistician, but it seems logical to me that each download of a single track from a 16 track album should amount to 1/16th of a sale of that album… shouldn’t it?

At any rate, it’s unlikely any of the thirteen Sheeran tracks will see the light of day on the radio again, once post-release hysteria has been quelled, unless they’re released as a single.

Cue the question of ‘what does the future hold?’, because, at the current rate of change, music seems to be evolving in ever-decreasing circles.

Radio’s been around for a century, and for much of the last sixty years it was the go-to source for music that people wanted to hear; today you’re more likely to see people gathered around a smartphone’s Spotify playlist, while radios merely generate background noise in kitchens, on desks and in mechanics’ workshops across the country.

Music television took off in the early-80s and, for music lovers, was an essential resource for at least twenty years; today, a music video isn’t even guaranteed for any release and, more often than not, if there is one they’re usually not much more than an ultra-fancy YouTube lyric video. Music Television, as we knew it in the olden days, is virtually dead; the ABC’s Rage, which celebrates its 30th anniversary next month, is now pretty much the sole survivor.

The ability to quickly and easily convert CDs into individual audio files in the late 90s lead directly to the P2P file sharing revolution, which, come 1999, had music lovers all over the world partying like it was, indeed, 1999 as they uploaded and downloaded free song after free song after free song—as quickly as their glacially slow dial-up connection would allow them to; but even Napster, the one that arguably started it all, was dead within seven years.

So-called “legitimate” online services have very much become the accepted norm since the local launch of the iTunes Store in late-2005, and they more-or-less had a monopoly until about 2012; but since 2015 the increasing uptake of streaming services has seen digital download revenues decrease by more than 10%, year-on-year—in other words, as streaming uptake increases, the number of paid downloads decreases.

What’s next, then? How soon can we expect streaming to also become obsolete? From what we’ve seen in the last ten years alone, its demise is probably just around the corner. Should we expect a replacement with an even shorter life-cycle?

Whatever it turns out to be, it will inevitably be some form of online platform. And, it’ll mean yet another nail in the coffin of the video and the radio star.