Amid coronavirus pandemic, streams of children’s music see double-digit increase

The ongoing coronavirus pandemic has already cost the music industry dearly.

Festivals have been canceled, concerts have been delayed indefinitely and big-name artists including Lady Gaga and Sam Smith have pressed pause on plans to drop new albums.

With many live music events nixed until at least summer, the industry could lose as much as $12 billion this year, according to Dave Brooks, Billboard’s senior correspondent of touring and live entertainment.

Album sales have been impacted dramatically. Brooks told USA TODAY they fell 36% week over week. That’s attributable, at least in part, to many stores closing to slow the spread of COVID-19.

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But one segment of the music industry has seen double-digit streaming increases: Kid-friendly music.With schools suspending classes, children stuck at home have been busy streaming on all their devices.

Brooks said streams jumped 12% week over week. Children’s audio streams were up 5%, while video streams soared 22%.

Industry observers weren’t surprised by the spike given current events.

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“In these weeks of social distancing, all parents have become their own daycare providers, and to create a comfortable environment and entertain their children they are turning to children’s music,” said David Bakula, head of analytics and insights at MRC Data/Nielsen Music.

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Children’s performers are live streaming, too

Bill Childs, host of “Spare the Rock,” a family-friendly radio show airing on stations across the US, said family musicians, like all performers, are hurting right now and struggling to adapt to the new reality. The program, featuring regular appearances by son Liam and daughter Ella since 2005, serves up a weekly dose of “indie music for indie kids.”

“This is a busy part of the year for family musicians most of the time, and losing live shows, parties, etc., is a blow,” he said.

Childs saw two events he was planning — one in Northampton, Massachusetts, the other in Austin, Texas — canceled over coronavirus concerns. 

Childs has rolled out the “No Nap Happy Hour” on Facebook each Saturday and Sunday at 5 p.m. Central, featuring performers who had been booked for the canceled South by Southwest festival in Austin. Upcoming artists include Rhett Miller from the Old 97’s and Taylor Muse from Quiet Company.

Meltdown, the Massachusetts event, is a family book and music festival. Author Jarrett J. Krosoczka, who helps line up writers for the annual festival, is now hosting a daily drawing livestream called “Draw Every Day” at 1 p.m. Central on Facebook.

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“In both settings, after canceling, we worked to do something that isn’t the same thing as a live show, but something that will give the families some fun and the artists a way to reach their audiences,” he said.

There are plenty of options out there for parents looking for ways to entertain their children, including a number of livestreams each day, Childs said. He suggests visiting Playtime Playlist to see what’s out there.

“It’s got a ton of different genres, and a range of interests from more overtly educational to just fun,” Childs said.

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