Cape Town - A million streams, a million times an album on digital streaming platforms, is a significant milestone in any artist’s career. It’s an especially important milestone when you’re an independent artist, driven by a passion for your craft. It is the ultimate validation.
South African artist Jimmy Nevis dominated the music charts over the past 12 months with his album, Things We Don’t Talk About, an incredible achievement for Cape Town’s favourite pop vocalist, whose hits Heartboxing and Elephant Shoes live rent-free in the hearts of thousands of adoring fans.
Now, with chart-topping hits like Ayo, F.B.A, Levels, and Small Spaces, Nevis’s new album represents a seminal moment in his music career. It features collaborations with top international producer Nico D’Andrea, South African artist Kaien Cruz and Zimbabwean-born rapper Hanna.
Not only has the album broken boundaries in music, but Nevis can now celebrate it breaching the one million stream mark – a nod to his musical genius and crafty songwriting.
“Getting to one million streams is a great milestone for an independent artist like myself. This album, Things We Don’t Talk About, was bold, unhinged and unapologetic. A lot of the success of the music was linked to social media. It’s just amazing to see a whole roll-out plan come together,” Nevis said.
BBut in the age of streaming, when the days of going out and buying records and CDs are long gone, how has the consumption of music changed over the years and who is really benefiting?
Questions remain about whether streaming has helped or hindered artists’ careers. A million streams and a million record sales mean two very different things in today’s music world, so what is at stake?
“I’m not the biggest fan of the streaming structure. It doesn’t always value the artist and has created an over-saturated market,” Nevis said.
“Even though streaming isn’t as lucrative as people purchasing one’s music, it’s a great way to build an audience – exposing your music to a wider group from all over the world.
“I look forward to seeing the evolution of streaming music. Hopefully, it’ll benefit the artist as much as it benefits the listener.”
Digital streaming platforms have dominated how listeners experience music, movies and podcasts, with an emphasis on access to a variety of options and volume, driving down the value of creative content.
“When I started in the music industry 12 years ago people were still buying CDs, and I feel very privileged to be making music through the different eras. The initial concept for streaming platforms was to allow independent artists to upload their work and manage their own work by monitoring their stats,” Nevis said.
“Now those with bigger budgets and resources are dominating the streaming market. It affects who gets onto playlists and affects how many streams they get.”
The result of an over-saturated market is that artists earn a fraction from streams, compared with what they would usually earn on album sales or downloads.
“There is a payment structure for artists from streaming services and it differs on each platform. What streaming platforms have done is given a lot more opportunities to independent artists and allowed listeners to engage with music differently.
“Personally, streaming has allowed me to reach audiences I couldn’t reach 12 years ago.”
Apart from streaming, Nevis has used social media and video content to enhance his reputation as a world-class creative in the digital space.
His strategies to promote his music, connect with his audience, and bring to life his creative ideas have seen his digital presence grow exponentially over the past year – ultimately culminating in over one million streams of “Things We Don’t Talk About”.
“Releasing music in today's digital age is indeed a whole new ball game. It’s incredible how social media and short-form videos have become vital tools to connect with audiences and promote music.
“For this album we had to consider an entire social media content strategy so it’s not only about the music anymore, it’s about how you frame it too,” he said.