Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Predicting a Country Music Hit

Top Chart Spot image
What would you do if you knew the formula for a hit? Would you follow it to the letter to take advantage, or would you do exactly the opposite to stay true to yourself? These are interesting personal questions that luckily we never have to ask ourselves because you can't predict a hit. Or can you?

Musicmetric recently released an interesting whitepaper called "Cracking The Code - Predicting a Country Music Hit" that can look at the sales and social metrics of a country song and reasonably predict if it will be a hit or not within four weeks of debuting on the charts. The research looked at 28 different metrics, including airplay, Shazam tags, Facebook likes, Soundcloud followers, online activity, chart positions, category, sales and other audience metrics. Of the 66 country music tracks that they looked at, 23 went to #1.

They found that the average #1 country single had:
  • 3.5 times their usual weekly Facebook likes 
  • 2.0 times their usual weekly YouTube plays 
  • 1.8 times their usual weekly Twitter Followers 
  • 2.0 times their usual weekly BitTorrent downloads 
  • took 16.5 weeks from its first entry to its chart peak 
After looking at their model, the researchers found that they could predict with a 79% probability if a song would reach the top 20, 63% if it would the top 10, and 50% if it would go to #1.

While this isn't that helpful for songwriters, it sure is for record labels and publishers. That said, I don't think I'd want my promotional budget hanging on research that has even that much room for error, but it's still the closest we've come to hit prediction yet.

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