2017/05/31: The songs that reached the top 10 were, on average, more repetitive than the rest in every year from 1960 to 2015!
Who's responsible for this madness?
Let's look at the average repetitiveness of some prolific artists in the dataset (those that have at least 15 charting songs as solo artists).
Genre does seem like a differentiating factor here. In the 00's, our artists actually separate pretty cleanly into two clusters, with country music and hip-hop (and whatever John Mayer does) on the left, and pop and rock on the right.
The variation between artists is considerable. The Backstreet Boys have an average compression ratio of 60%, to Brad Paisley's 38%. In other words, if we asked the Backstreet Boys and Brad Paisley to each write a 400 word song, and compressed them both, we'd expect Brad's compressed song to be 50% bigger than BSB's.
Let's zoom in on a specific artist, say Gwen Stefani. Each circle below represents a song in her discography. The background blob is the histogram of all songs in the dataset (the same one as before, but mirrored).
2015/09/01: YouTuber Sir Mashalot has created a mix of popular country tunes that reveals just how formulaic the genre has become, confirming the suspicions of millions of urbanites who happened to turn on the radio during their rare trips outside the comforting womb of the major metropolitan area.
The mashup includes six songs, including ones by big acts like Blake Shelton and Luke Bryan, all of which performed strongly on the charts. There are indeed references aplenty to cars and beer and summertime, but what’s more striking is the nearly identical instrumentation and chord progressions. At one point, all six songs are overlaid on top of each other, and it’s a bit alarming how perfectly they fit together.
2015/01/07: A new study, surveying more than 500,000 albums, shows simplicity sells best across all music genres. As something becomes popular, it necessarily dumbs down and becomes more formulaic. So if you're wondering why the top 10 features two Meghan Trainor songs that sound exactly the same and two Taylor Swift songs that sound exactly the same, scientists think they finally have the answer.
in nearly every case, as genres increase in popularity, they also become more generic.
Record labels can use services like Shazam and HitPredictor to see which songs will break out next with surprising accuracy.
Top 40 stations last year played the 10 biggest songs almost twice as much as they did a decade ago.
2008/06/30: My point is not to suggest that Elberse is wrong and that I’m right, it’s only to point out that different definitions of what the Long Tail is, from “head” to “tail”, will generate wildly different results.
Anyway, it’s getting late and I just wanted to highlight a few other interesting data points and conclusions from her article:
Much of the paper is about consumer satisfaction in the head vs tail. In the Quickflix data, she says, “customers give lower ratings to obscure titles…it is a myth that obscure books, films and songs are treasured. What consumers buy in Internet channels is much the same as what they have always bought.”
That may be true for the specific example of the Australian DVD data, but it is not clear from the paper why she feels able to extrapolate that to all Internet commerce.
The heaviest DVD renters were the most likely to venture into the tail; light consumers largely concentrated on the hits.
In music, of the 2.4 million digital tracks sold in 2007 in the US (most of them through iTunes) 24% sold only one copy and 91% sold fewer than 100 copies.
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