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‘Hey Siri, Play Songs to Calm Me Down’: What the World Is Listening to Amid COVID-19

Children’s music soars, while hip-hop and pop streams fall, and listeners in the U.S. and abroad turn to chiller tunes

Music Streaming Coronavirus

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Everyone’s spending more time indoors amid the spread of COVID-19. And the music we’re seeking out is changing.

Numbers from Alpha Data (the analytics company that powers the Rolling Stone Charts) and data from streaming services show that listeners in America and abroad are tuning into chiller, more mood-oriented music — while children’s music has seen the biggest spike in listening.

Spotify has noticed more “chill” music on users’ playlists in general, as people add songs that are noticeably more acoustic, less danceable, and have lower energy than songs they’ve added in the past, the company said. Similarly, Pandora is seeing increases in the following categories: Cleaning, Wind-Down, Focus, and Family.

According to streaming service Deezer, people are taking mood more into consideration when looking for music to play. In the last week, Deezer mood playlists overall increased by 20% globally. Playlists like their “Cosy Coffeeshop” increased by 486%. “Lazy Indie” saw a 180% uptick, and the use of “Mellow Days,” which features older rock, soul, disco tracks, rose by 305%.

While overall streams in the U.S. from March 13th through April 2nd were down nearly 9% compared to the previous three weeks, numbers from Alpha Data show that there were a number of genres that were unaffected, or actually saw an increase. Comparing the previous three weeks, children’s music was up 9%, while classical and folk music stayed steady. By comparison, Latin, rap and pop fell 16%, 15%, and 13% during that time, respectively.

Spotify, in particular, noted an in increase in music geared to help kids sleep, while Deezer’s “Happy Kids” playlist spiked up over 100%. Deezer reported that streams for the playlist “Calm Piano” increased by 138% in the U.S. in just one week (March 19th to 26th) and rose 27% globally. Both Apple and Deezer also saw a significant boost in fitness-related listening.

Moreover, data shows that as people are apart, they’re using music to come together. Alpha Data numbers show that from March 20th through April 2nd, streams for “We Are The World” doubled in the U.S. In Italy and Spain. Spotify told Rolling Stone that streams of Andrea Sannino’s “Abbracciame” and Adriano Celentano’s “Azzuro” saw spikes of over 700 percent on March 13th and March 14th after videos of citizens singing those songs from their balconies spread on social media. Similarly, “Resistiré” by Duo Dinamico leapt by over 400% in Spain on March 15th.

Additional reporting by Emily Blake.

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