At the end of 2015, Norwegian superstar Kygo, broke Spotify records by being the first artist to hit 1 billion plays.

And he did it without even releasing an album.

In a day and age where music fans use stream services such as Spotify, Pandora, and Soundcloud, artists like Kygo – whose income is partially generated through the number of streams hosted on such platforms – are stepping away from the typical album format that artists have historically used to release a body of music.

Kygo who has been playing piano since the age of six, was signed to Sony imprint label Ultra Records just over a year ago. Since then he has seen monumental success before even releasing his first album, which is due later this year.

The success of Kygo can be attributed to the artist’s branding strategy which has up to this point has focused on the production and release of singles rather than leading with a debut album.

Patrick Moxey, founder of Ultra Records and longtime player in the electronic music scene said in a recent interview with CNN Money,

“…[F]our or five singles out and we’re selling out huge venues like Barclays Center [in New York City]…it’s a tribute to the way the relationship has changed between artists and music fans through the internet.”

The relationship to which Moxey is referring to, of course, is the changing landscape in the industry where fans are consuming music through streaming services rather than track sales. In the streaming world, artists generate income through ad placement between songs or through paid subscription services. By focusing on creating singles, labels are able to minimize monetary risk on the production and promotion of a debut album by first building a strong artist fanbase.


As the number of DJs entering the market increases, is this a trend that we will continue to see by record labels wanting to guarantee income by only releasing albums by artists with proven track records?

Although DJs are not typically known for releasing albums – rather focusing their live shows on predominantly mixing samples or creating beats on the fly – that’s not to say the success of streaming for artists like Kygo cannot translate to other musical genres. Only time can tell whether this release strategy will become the industry norm.

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