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Cinematic Orchestra’s To Build a Home hit Spotify No 1 after featuring in Netlix’s Orange is the New Black and NBC’s This is Us. Photograph: Netflix

‘Golden age of TV’ gives boost to music industry

At a time when many critics believe we are living through a golden age of TV, it seems no new drama with aspirations to credibility is complete without a soundtrack to match, The Guardian reports.

As content on on-demand platforms such as Netflix and Amazon Prime Video has proliferated, and shows such as Stranger ThingsBreaking Bad and Transparent have won acclaim, so fans have rushed to track down the music in their favourite shows.

Figures provided exclusively to the Guardian by PRS (Performing Rights Society) for Music, show that the use of music across major on-demand platforms has more than tripled (up 238%) in the past five years – from 145bn minutes in 2014 to 490bn minutes in 2018.

In 2012, the makers of Mad Men paid the Beatles $250,000 (then about £130,000) for the use of Tomorrow Never Knows. While that deal was exceptional, the royalties and boost to an artist’s profile that use of their music in TV generates is significant at a time when physical sales of music are low.

Despite being on the independent label Ninja Tune, the British electronic band the Cinematic Orchestra were one of the first acts to top the Hollywood Reporter’s top TV songs chart more than once, with To Build a Home.

The track, which has been streamed almost 200m times on Spotify, hit the No 1 spot after appearing in Netflix’s Orange is the New Black and then again after being featured in NBC’s This is Us.

Ninja Tune is one of many labels to respond to the increasing demand from TV and other media by launching a division dedicated to production music.

The label’s head of worldwide sync, Martin Dobson, said TV provided “a robust income stream” and it was only sensible for artists and labels to respond accordingly.

He said: “The internet has led to a proliferation in TV, film and other audio-visual output, accordingly there are more opportunities for music to be used. We are fortunate enough to have experienced the music of several artists, including the Cinematic Orchestra, being used in artful and creatively sympathetic ways which have resulted in new interest – and when that happens it is almost immediately identifiable via streams, Shazams, social media and so on.”Advertisement

In the past, viewers hooked by a TV song had to hunt it down using their ingenuity. Now, apps such as Shazam and Tunefind, which is used in compilation of the TV songs chart, enable people to quickly identify a track and click straight through to purchasing or streaming platforms such as Spotify, YouTube and iTunes.

Another British artist to benefit is the soul singer Michael Kiwanuka, whose Love & Hate features on the acclaimed Netflix series When They See Us alongside another Cinematic Orchestra track, All Things to All Men.

After Kiwanuka’s track Cold Little Heart was the title track of HBO’s Big Little Lies, he experienced a spike in his social media, his US tour dates sold out and the song remained in the Shazam Top 100 US chart for the entirety of the series. Such has been its impact that, in an interview with the Guardian, he was moved to amiably point out: “I do have other music.”

PRS figures show the increase in music used has outstripped the rise in the number of programmes. While the number of programmes made available across major on-demand TV/film platforms has increased by 45% in the past five years, up from 147,000 to 212,500, the number of musical works featured rose 62%, from 488,500 to 789,500.

Acknowledging the growing creative importance of TV soundtracks, the Emmys launched an outstanding music supervision award in 2017.

The music journalist Eamonn Forde said TV syndication was now “part and parcel” of how music labels make money.

“It’s hugely important as a form of revenue for published artists,” he said. “If people aren’t buying a physical product, if they’re relying on streams from Spotify, YouTube, this is another way to make money.”

The hope for artists is they do not become known just for one track, but that this trend will encourage viewers to delve into their catalogue, he added.

The increase in music use on TV has also benefited composers, who write specifically for TV and other media, PRS said, with the royalties it has distributed to them increasing by 18% between 2017 and 2018, and a steady increase predicted over the next 10 years.

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