2018 year-end YouTube stats

I’d like to wish everyone reading this a very happy New Year! Let’s begin with the U.S. YouTube top 10 for 2018:

1. God’s Plan 536,000,000
2. Lucid Dreams 381,000,000
3. SAD! 346,000,000
4. Girls Like You 340,000,000
5. I Like It 329,000,000
6. Boo’d Up 312,000,000
7. Perfect 299,000,000
8. Psycho 290,000,000
9. Meant To Be 271,000,000
10. Havana 260,000,000

The first thing you will notice is that these numbers are not exact. YouTube Insights no longer provides exact numbers. Lame, but whatever.

Below is a map illustrating each state’s #1.

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This map essentially confirms the trends that I have observed throughout the past couple of years: rural states prefer pop to rap music, and states in the Deep South prefer rap even more than the country as a whole. This is the second consecutive year that Alabama, Mississippi, and Louisiana have had an urban #1 that is also not the national #1. This year was interesting because there was no clear pop smash on YouTube, as there was last year with Shape Of You. Meant To Be and Girls Like You competed for that title, with the former claiming five states (all of which made Shape Of You their #1 last year) and the latter taking three. However, Girls Like You finished ahead of Meant To Be in the national ranking, owing to its stronger performance in more populated areas.

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The map of the second-place finishers in each state is illuminating. Boo’d Up displays more of its Southern strength, while I Like It succeeds in three highly populous states with large Latino populations. SAD! clearly performed better on the West Coast compared to the East, while Lucid Dreams’ area of strength includes most of the Rust Belt as well as Southern New England and parts of the Plains. The “others” are: AK – Perfect, NJ – Te Bote, WV – Heaven, NE – Psycho, MS – Genie (by YoungBoy Never Broke Again)

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Here’s a map that combines the past two years into one!

I also took a closer look at major cities, and the result is the table below. The 25 cities listed are the 25 most populous cities in the country. A checkmark indicates that the song in question was inside the top 10 for that city; an “X” indicates that it is not.

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God’s Plan was the only song to appear in all 25 top 10s–a remarkable feat. More interesting is the tremendous performance of Latin hits. Te Boté, El Farsante, and Oye Mujer didn’t make the national top 10 (230M, 217M, and 119M national plays respectively), but they made the top 10s of plenty of major cities.

I also calculated the top 5 for the 25 most populous cities in the country. It looks like this:

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Looking at only major cities makes a huge difference! I Like It and Boo’d Up are #5 and #6 on the national list, but #2 and #3 here. God’s Plan still wins the race easily–a testament to its tremendous all-around strength.

Below are the top 5 most-streamed songs on YouTube in 2018 for selected U.S. cities. If you’d live to view the top 5 (and the rest of the top 20) for any city, head over to YouTube’s not-as-fantastic-anymore Insights page.

New York City
1. God’s Plan 21,100,000
2. Casper, Nio García, Darell, Nicky Jam, Bad Bunny, & Ozuna – Te Boté 20,600,000
3. I Like It 18,100,000
4. Ozuna & Romeo Santos – El Farsante 17,700,000
5. Girls Like You 14,500,000

1. God’s Plan 5,290,000
2. Te Boté 4,950,000
3. El Farsante 4,430,000
4. I Like It 3,910,000
5. Lucid Dreams 3,290,000

1. God’s Plan 7,640,000
2. Boo’d Up 6,800,000
3. I Like It 5,390,000
4. Te Boté 5,050,000
5. Lucid Dreams 4,720,000

1. Te Boté 744,000
2. El Farsante 527,000
3. God’s Plan 509,000
4. I Like It 496,000
5. Lucid Dreams 481,000

Washington, D.C.
1. God’s Plan 7,770,000
2. Boo’d Up 6,630,000
3. I Like It 6,040,000
4. Te Boté 5,130,000
5. El Farsante 4,720,000

1. Boo’d Up 1,200,000
2. God’s Plan 837,000
3. YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Genie 768,000
4. Lil Baby – Freestyle 703,000
5. Queen Najia – Medicine 663,000

1. Boo’d Up 627,000
2. Genie 436,000
3. God’s Plan 411,000
4. Lucid Dreams 350,000
5. Ella Mai – Trip 330,000

Virginia Beach
1. Boo’d Up 1,200,000
2. God’s Plan 1,160,000
3. Lucid Dreams 867,000
4. I Like It 771,000
5. Girls Like You 725,000

1. God’s Plan 939,000
2. Lucid Dreams 681,000
3. Meant To Be 661,000
4. Psycho 658,000
5. Girls Like You 624,000

1. Boo’d Up 7,520,000
2. Sada Baby & Drego – Bloxk Party 6,920,000
3. God’s Plan 6,210,000
4. Lucid Dreams 3,950,000
5. Genie 3,940,000

1. Boo’d Up 950,000
2. God’s Plan 717,000
3. Lucid Dreams 634,000
4. Medicine 586,000
5. Freestyle 578,000

1. God’s Plan 2,420,000
2. Lucid Dreams 1,860,000
3. Boo’d Up 1,830,000
4. Meant To Be 1,680,000
5. Girls Like You 1,620,000

1. God’s Plan 1,480,000
2. Lucid Dreams 1,390,000
3. Psycho 1,290,000
4. Meant To Be 1,270,000
5. Boo’d Up 1,230,000

1. God’s Plan 2,930,000
2. YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Outside Today 1,900,000
3. Boo’d Up 1,830,000
4. Lucid Dreams 1,750,000
5. Meant To Be 1,670,000

1. Boo’d Up 1,190,000
2. God’s Plan 1,050,000
3. Lucid Dreams 959,000
4. Genie 869,000
5. Medicine 722,000

1. God’s Plan 17,300,000
2. Boo’d Up 12,900,000
3. Lucid Dreams 12,900,000
4. I Like It 11,300,000
5. Girls Like You 10,300,000

St. Louis
1. Boo’d Up 1,830,000
2. God’s Plan 1,730,000
3. Lucid Dreams 1,300,000
4. Genie 1,280,000
5. Psycho 1,250,000

Kansas City
1. God’s Plan 1,650,000
2. Boo’d Up 1,360,000
3. Lucid Dreams 1,360,000
4. Girls Like You 1,280,000
5. Meant To Be 1,270,000

1. Boo’d Up 6,980,000
2. God’s Plan 6,130,000
3. Freestyle 3,910,000
4. Genie 3,870,000
5. Migos f/Drake – Walk It Talk It 3,490,000

1. Boo’d Up 1,300,000
2. God’s Plan 1,270,000
3. Lil Baby & Gunna – Drip Too Hard 849,000
4. Lucid Dreams 849,000
5. Girls Like You 812,000

1. Boo’d Up 11,800,000
2. God’s Plan 10,300,000
3. Freestyle 8,960,000
4. Drip Too Hard 7,230,000
5. Lil Baby & Drake – Yes Indeed 6,780,000

1. Boo’d Up 1,270,000
2. God’s Plan 1,030,000
3. Lucid Dreams 1,010,000
4. Genie 912,000
5. Girls Like You 767,000

1. Te Boté 8,460,000
2. El Farsante 7,540,000
3. Daddy Yankee – Dura 6,240,000
4. I Like It 5,980,000
5. God’s Plan 4,980,000

1. God’s Plan 2,490,000
2. Boo’d Up 2,240,000
3. I Like It 1,990,000
4. Te Boté 1,980,000
5. El Farsante 1,740,000

1. Boo’d Up 6,410,000
2. God’s Plan 5,830,000
3. Te Boté 5,350,000
4. I Like It 5,030,000
5. Lucid Dreams 4,250,000


1. Boo’d Up 1,970,000
2. Yella Beezy – That’s On Me 1,390,000
3. Genie 1,350,000
4. Freestyle 1,270,000
5. God’s Plan 1,200,000

1. Boo’d Up 761,000
2. Genie 635,000
3. That’s On Me 477,000
4. YoungBoy Never Broke Again – Through The Storm 474,000
5. Freestyle 470,000

1. Boo’d Up 3,050,000
2. God’s Plan 2,500,000
3. Freestyle 2,330,000
4. Genie 2,030,000
5. Outside Today 1,950,000

New Orleans
1. God’s Plan 1,110,000
2. Boo’d Up 1,100,000
3. Genie 968,000
4. Lucid Dreams 699,000
5. Outside Today 695,000

Little Rock
1. Boo’d Up 388,000
2. God’s Plan 293,000
3. Genie 248,000
4. That’s On Me 219,000
5. Freestyle 215,000

1. God’s Plan 12,900,000
2. Te Boté 11,300,000
3. I Like It 10,600,000
4. El Farsante 10,400,000
5. XXXTENTACION – SAD! 8,350,000

1. God’s Plan 13,200,000
2. I Like It 9,280,000
3. Boo’d Up 8,940,000
4. That’s On Me 8,680,000
5. Lucid Dreams 8,580,000

1. God’s Plan 2,720,000
2. I Like It 2,550,000
3. Te Boté 2,510,000
4. Girls Like You 2,220,000
5. El Farsante 2,110,000

San Antonio
1. God’s Plan 5,590,000
2. Te Boté 4,440,000
3. El Farsante 4,380,000
4. I Like It 3,980,000
5. SAD! 3,790,000

Oklahoma City
1. God’s Plan 1,750,000
2. SAD! 1,270,000
3. Boo’d Up 1,200,000
4. Lucid Dreams 1,180,000
5. Girls Like You 1,020,000

1. God’s Plan 3,910,000
2. Tyga f/Offset – Taste 3,260,000
3. Girls Like You 2,990,000
4. SAD! 2,900,000
5. Psycho 2,640,000

1. God’s Plan 1,590,000
2. SAD! 1,440,000
3. Girls Like You 1,440,000
4. Taste 1,370,000
5. Lucid Dreams 1,330,000

San Francisco
1. God’s Plan 4,570,000
2. Taste 4,090,000
3. Te Boté 3,810,000
4. I Like It 3,600,000
5. Girls Like You 3,400,000

San Jose
1. God’s Plan 3,420,000
2. Taste 2,150,000
3. Ed Sheeran – Perfect 1,930,000
4. Offset – Ric Flair Drip 1,920,000
5. SAD! 1,910,000

1. Boo’d Up 894,000
2. Taste 776,000
3. Te Boté 744,000
4. God’s Plan 729,000
5. I Like It 708,000

1. God’s Plan 1,240,000
2. SAD! 919,000
3. Lucid Dreams 883,000
4. Girls Like You 764,000
5. Taste 729,000

1. Taste 2,680,000
2. God’s Plan 2,200,000
3. Lucid Dreams 2,060,000
4. SAD! 2,010,000
5. YG f/2 Chainz, Nicki Minaj, & Big Sean – Big Bank 1,960,000

Los Angeles
1. God’s Plan 15,000,000
2. Taste 13,800,000
3. Te Boté 13,300,000
4. I Like It 12,600,000
5. Raymix – Oye Mujer 11,200,000

San Diego
1. God’s Plan 3,040,000
2. I Like It 2,640,000
3. Taste 2,550,000
4. Girls Like You 2,450,000
5. Te Boté 2,380,000

1. God’s Plan 819,000
2. SAD! 652,000
3. I Like It 600,000
4. Lucid Dreams 591,000
5. Taste 540,000

1. God’s Plan 5,560,000
2. SAD! 4,280,000
3. Lucid Dreams 4,020,000
4. I Like It 3,710,000
5. Taste 3,710,000

1. God’s Plan 973,000
2. SAD! 904,000
3. Lucid Dreams 838,000
4. Girls Like You 819,000
5. Meant To Be 665,000

Salt Lake City
1. Girls Like You 1,200,000
2. Psycho 1,050,000
3. Meant To Be 1,030,000
4. SAD! 1,020,000
5. God’s Plan 967,000

1. Taste 3,940,000
2. God’s Plan 3,390,000
3. SAD! 3,270,000
4. Girls Like You 3,030,000
5. Lucid Dreams 2,970,000

Colorado Springs
1. God’s Plan 566,000
2. Lucid Dreams 538,000
3. Girls Like You 516,000
4. SAD! 516,000
5. Meant To Be 431,000

I will be adding to this post with more analysis soon!


An updated look at the top 10 biggest first days for an album on Spotify

On its first day on Spotify, Lil Wayne’s new album Tha Carter V earned a staggering 49,469,116 streams across its 23 tracks. That’s the second-highest such total in Spotify’s history, behind only the behemoth that is Scorpion (which did just over 80 million on its first day at the end of June). Here’s a look at the new top 10:

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There are a couple things to note here. The first is the “streams per track” column, which I have added to give context to the raw figures. People frequently complain that bloated albums like Tha Carter V with its 23 tracks are designed to game the system and inflate SEA numbers. In this case, tracklist length appears to make a difference. Despite scoring the second-biggest first day, Tha Carter V only has the seventh-highest streams per track for a first day. In fact, it trails The Weeknd’s My Dear Melancholy, EP, which doesn’t make the top 10 for biggest days yet averaged nearly 2.4 million streams per track on its opening day. But remember, the first day is all we’re observing here. In the long run, no one has performed an exhaustive enough analysis to conclude that tracklist length makes a difference one way or the other.

It’s also pertinent to point out that several of these albums were very frontloaded (specifically, Bobby Tarantino II and the two J. Cole albums). So a high placement on this list doesn’t guarantee long-term success, though obviously several of the best-performing albums of 2018 and 2017 are on the list. Moreover, these figures are not “indexed for inflation,” if you will. Streaming has grown tremendously since 2015/2016, and it’s entirely possible that a greater proportion of the streaming populace listened to albums like To Pimp A Butterfly or Starboy on their first days, even if their totals were lower due to Spotify’s smaller user base at the time. However, this probably doesn’t make a huge difference. Why? Many of the high-profile releases back then, such as What A Time To Be Alive and Views, were Apple Music exclusives that didn’t appear on Spotify until several weeks after their releases; as such, their first day on Spotify wasn’t their first day of exposure to the public. Now that exclusives have fallen out of favor, essentially every major release gets to spend its opening day on Spotify.

With that being said, this list needs to be contextualized. Apple Music is now just as important as Spotify, and many urban acts get the majority of their streams from AM now. Only 41.98% of Scorpion‘s first-week on-demand streams originated from Spotify; that percentage dips to 41.48% for ASTROWORLD, 39.91% for KOD, and just 34.42% for Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy (which is the lowest percentage for a #1 album this year). So although it’s interesting, this list definitely doesn’t tell the whole story.

A close look into Spotify’s recent growth

Over the last couple of years, Spotify has continued to grow rapidly. The Swedish service is transparent with its charts–it publishes a top 200 daily on a dedicated charts website– which allows us to take a detailed look at the data and examine its growth.

Let’s begin by taking a look at the way the top 10 has performed.

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So far in 2018, the top 10 has averaged a collective 14,747,971 plays per day. That’s a gain of 28.4% from 2017, when it averaged 11,482,841 plays per day, and a gain of 59.2% from 2016, when it averaged just 9.3 million.

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But the gains haven’t been completely consistent. Looking at each month individually, the monthly average has only gained for more than three consecutive months once since the beginning of 2016: from January through April of this year. This isn’t exactly surprising, considering how massive album releases can inflate the figure and subsequent dry spells can weaken it. For example, the 21% surges in March and April of 2017–gains powered by the releases of More Life and DAMN.–were followed by four months of pullback. It wasn’t until this April that last April’s mark was topped.

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Layering the daily data produces a cool visual that illustrates how high-profile album releases are having increasingly large impacts on the top 10.

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To quantify album release effects, I looked for days when the top 10’s total streams increased by at least 50% from the prior day. Such an increase is quite rare and nearly always associated with an album release. Indeed, of the 8 times we’ve seen a 50% day-over-day increase since the start of 2016, 7 of them coincided with album releases (the boost on June 20th of this year came due to consumption of XXXTENTACION’s music in the wake of his death).

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So we only had one true album bomb in all of 2016, and it came near the very end. 2017 saw two, and we already have four in 2018 before the start of Q4. In summary, high-profile releases are more consistently landing many songs inside the top 10, causing the top 10’s streams to spike, often to new heights.

Let’s zoom out now and look at the performance of the entire top 200. Untitled 9

Untitled 8.pngLike the top 10, the top 200 has exhibited considerable growth over the last two years. So far this year, the top 200 has averaged 83,473,319 plays per day. That’s a 58.2% increase from 2016, similar to the top 10’s 59.2% increase in that same timeframe. However, unlike the top 10, the top 200 has grown at a significantly slower clip this year than in 2017:

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Breaking down the monthly data, it becomes clear that the top 200 is less prone to large swings than the top 10.

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There have been several months where the top 10 and top 200 have moved in opposite directions month-over-month:

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Another interesting phenomenon is weekday variance.

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As far back as I can recall, Fridays have been the most active days for streaming and Sundays the least active, and this trend appears to be becoming more pronounced. Fridays have been the fastest-growing day in terms of top 200 plays since the start of 2016; Sundays have grown 9.6% slower. Interestingly, Wednesdays and Thursdays have grown even slower than Sundays, closing the gap between them and the first two days of the week.

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One other metric that I track and archive is the number of songs that achieve at least 300,000 plays on a given day. This metric is relatively immune to the influences of massive hits like God’s Plan, so I find it interesting to look at. It has also shown impressive growth of late:

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So even if the current #1 is pulling 1.5 million streams per day as opposed to 3 or 4 million, you can bet that there’s some less glamorous growth occurring towards the bottom of the chart.

Finally, I thought I would end with a fun graph comparing 2016 to 2018. So far in 2018, there have been 18 days where the top 50 has pulled more streams than the top 200 did on the same day in 2016:

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The takeaway from all this is that Spotify is still growing at an impressive pace. It will be fascinating to see how much longer this can continue, especially now that Apple Music seemingly has the momentum on its side.

A note on the data used in this article: all of the data in this article, unless otherwise cited, originally comes from the Spotify Charts website, which contains downloadable files of daily top 200 charts. The website only displays charts dating back to the beginning of 2017, but this article will contain data dating back to January 1, 2016. This is because I have been personally archiving the data since the site launched on November 18, 2015. Spotify did not provide charts for a three-day stretch in July 2017, and those charts are still inaccessible, so there is no data available for those days.

Discrepancies in Nielsen’s mid-year report

UPDATE 7/10: Nielsen has re-uploaded the report and included Cardi in the top 10 artists list. Furthermore, there appears to be an explanation for the discrepancies. The top 10 artists list is meant to be a Billboard mid-year list, so it uses the Billboard year — the midpoint of the BB year is roughly 5 weeks earlier than that of the calendar year, which is used for the genre charts.

Nielsen yesterday released their mid-year report, and it contains several curious discrepancies.

The report lists Cardi B’s Invasion Of Privacy as having accumulated 1,113,000 units in 2018:

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Yet Cardi is not listed in the “top 10 artists” list:

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Moreover, the unit totals on that list don’t match those displayed in other parts of the report. For some artists, the discrepancy is more than 100,000 units:

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Billboard’s new streaming rules: what are they and what will their effects be?

This evening, Billboard announced that they have finalized the changes they intend to make to the streaming rules for the Hot 100 and Billboard 200. The major change, as previously discussed on this site, is a new weighting distinction being made between “free” and “paid” streams– that is, streams coming from non-subscribers versus streams coming from subscribers. But they also made several more noteworthy announcements worth discussing and provided additional details that we didn’t have prior to tonight.

Here are the changes that will be implemented on June 29th of this year:
– For the Hot 100, paid streams will be given higher weight than free streams. Specifically, 1 paid stream will be equivalent to 1.5 free streams and to 2 programmed streams.
– For the Billboard 200, paid streams will also be given higher weight than free streams, but here 1 paid stream will be equivalent to 3 free streams. Of course, programmed streams do not count towards the Billboard 200.

Intriguingly, Billboard also disclosed that they plan to further split the “paid” tier into two sub-tiers. The higher tier will consist of streams from “paid subscriptions that provide full music library access and no restrictions on on-demand functionality,” with the lower tier consisting of streams from “paid subscriptions that provide a partial music library and/or limited on-demand functionality.”

To understand what this means, think about the mobile Spotify app. For a free user, the app has limited on-demand functionality, because free users cannot play songs on-demand from the app– they have to resort to shuffling playlists. Alternatively, consider a hypothetical streaming service that prohibited its users from listening to any country music. That would be an example of a partial music library.

In the near term, none of these changes are likely to shift the genre balance of the charts because urban is comfortably the strongest genre on every medium of streaming. If anything, urban will be buoyed by the increased influence of Apple Music, which is significantly more urban than Spotify and YouTube. Additionally, the total number of SEA units earned by albums is unlikely to shift much, despite the marked down-weighting of free streams for the Billboard 200. This is due to the fact that the vast majority of on-demand streams–roughly 80%–are paid:

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(table from BuzzAngle’s 2017 year-end report)

In summary, these changes’ effects will probably be confined to methodology. Of course, that doesn’t mean they’re coming without controversy (in fact, Spotify originally objected to the 3750:1 ratio for free streams on the Billboard 200). This post will be updated if any notable parties issue comment on it.

The concept of the mixtape lives on

Before the streaming era, the word “mixtape” connoted a project released free of charge. Often self-released and hastily produced, they served as vehicles for promotion and allowed artists to create relatively unburdened. Rather than being intended for the general public to devour, they typically appealed specifically to fans of the artist behind the mixtape.

Nowadays, most every album is accessible for free on streaming services. Yet, fascinatingly, the concept of the mixtape (perhaps more accurately phrased now as the side project) is alive and well. Artists still frequently designate certain releases as side projects, even though they are effectively no different from traditional albums in terms of accessibility now. Still, fanbases have repeatedly taken the hint. Let’s briefly consider several recent examples.

Drake – More Life – 505k
Previous release: Views – 1.04m

Logic – Bobby Tarantino II – 119k
Previous release: Everybody – 247k

Big Sean & Metro Boomin – Double Or Nothing – 50k
Previous release: I Decided. – 151k

Drake’s fan base definitely didn’t shrink appreciably between the release of Views and the release of More Life– in fact, one could argue that it grew. People didn’t suddenly stop listening to Logic over winter. What’s happening here, then, is that people are recognizing the side projects for what they are. The hardcore fans of each of these artists still consumed them, but fewer casual fans and certainly less of the general public did so. However, as is the case with most albums these days, there is always potential for one or two songs off of a side project to blow up and become a mainstream hit (as Roll In Peace did). In these cases, the side project has the potential to perform similarly to a normal album.

The fact that we still distinguish between side projects and full-on album campaigns is probably a good thing. For artists, side projects can be a convenient way of gauging the size and intensity of their fanbase; for fans, they lead to greater levels of engagement. Side projects can lead to electric collaborations (Travis Scott & Quavo; Future & Young Thug) and fun experimentation. Plus, they often arrive with little notice, and it’s always nice to think that something new could be right around the corner.