Multiple platforms, markets, and tracks beg for a simplified chart understanding…here’s one way to attack them.
Chartmetric data as of: Feb 26, 2019 | Subscribe to our 3-minute podcast!
Continuing to be one of the many pop culture battlegrounds for gender representation, the Recording Academy’s 61st chapter of the Grammys had a lot to live up to on Feb 10 2019 as the American music industry’s premiere awards gala.
Last year’s caustic public criticism of the 2018 Grammys found it guilty of snubbing women in both awards and performance slots, triggering the #grammyssomale hashtag on social media and pointing towards a bigger societal issue that had been long overdue.
One year later, “music’s biggest night” would eventually give 31 awards, twice as many performances (than males), and six of the nine prime-time categories to women.
In order to examine how the awards show has affected some of the artists’ careers, we turn to one of Chartmetric’s newly unveiled features, Weighted Chart Summaries.
Weighted Chart Summaries: Accounting for Digital Revenue and Territory Size
Much like our previous coverage of event-based fan engagement signals, one can also look to the music charts to see how an artist’s content is performing with its audience. So earlier this month, we unveiled Chart Summaries, which is a dynamic executive summary of any single chart.
But in today’s global digital music environment, the issue with any music chart is that there are so many divided by not only geography, but time. What was Japan listening to last month? How about Germany this week? Or Mexico yesterday? Pile several music platforms and all your different tracks in each one of them (hope those ISRCs are correct!), and you have an exponentially growing number of charts to review your progress on.
Weighted Chart Summaries goes one step further and creates a Chartmetric Overall Score that essentially says: “Given all your tracks, in all of this platform’s territories…this is how you’re doing.”
You can also do this track by track as a Track Score by clicking on the “Track” tab.
For a more detailed explanation of how this is calculated, please refer to the “How do we calculate the score?” pop-up in any of the Artist Page Charts. But long story short: our research shows charts tend to heavily favor the top tracks in any given chart, so we first assume a weighted natural log function such as below:
This would be enough to summarize the overall ranking in any given chart for an artist, but in order to help you understand the business importance of each ranking, we also included each territory’s 2018 digital revenue, as recorded by the International Federation of the Phonographic Industry (IFPI) Global Music Report 2018.
Formed in 1933, the London-based, non-profit industry organization continues to perform the world’s most comprehensive and respected evaluation of the state of recorded music worldwide. Using IFPI’s statistics, we have weighted each country’s market by their total 2018 digital revenue (to change annually).
What this does is “bake in” a relative expectation of revenue you may earn from one market to another. This is certainly imperfect, but we believe this will help you better understand the connection between digital chart rankings of your entire repertoire and your recorded music digital revenue instantly.
So let’s work in the 2019 Grammys.
Want to follow along? A free account is waiting for you.
Janelle Monáe’s “Make Me Feel” performance
Atlanta-based Janelle Monáe summoned familiar Prince and James Brown vibes during her “Make Me Feel” performance, while simultaneously stamping the Grammys in her own trademark way. She was also twice nominated for Album of the Year and Best Music Video this year.
Though recording a two-song studio performance last year at Spotify Studios NYC and sporting 2.7M monthly listeners on the platform, Monáe surprisingly did not chart on the Spotify Top 200 or Viral 50 charts in the past month, despite her Grammys performance and nominations.
Apple Music, however, provides a different story.
Monáe’s Apple Music Genre Chart performance almost tripled from an Overall Score of 59 (Feb 10th) to a peak of 159 (Feb 12th) two days after the awards, showing a considerable “Grammy bump” with the high-profile appearance.
Due to our methodology, it’s good to remember that the overall score is- by itself- meaningless. Therefore, the score is better used relatively, such as a multiple of a previous or future date’s score. Additionally, it’s also useful to compare with a competing artist’s score in the same chart, as all other variables stay the same.
When clicking on the Track View, you’ll see each of Monáe’s charting tracks (20) in the past month, which you can toggle on/off in the legend. The most obvious takeaway is the post-Grammy surge of her performance track, “Make Me Feel”, signaling an obvious audience reaction.
What’s maybe less obvious is seeing what we can speculate is a “curiosity” or “recall” bump running roughly from Feb 10–23. A series of her other works such as the 808-tinged “I Like That” or 2015’s playful banger “Yoga” make new appearances on the Apple Music Genre chart in the R&B/Soul category. You can see this chart signal with the glut of much smaller but many lines showing up after Feb 10.
If your artist shows such chart behavior after an important event, it would be a great idea to check with your direct streaming platform artist backend, to see who these users are and what are they doing with the tracks…are they new listeners? Saving to their libraries? Maybe they already were in the libraries and were re-listening for the first time in years. A great time to re-evaluate catalog and capitalize on the event in a creative way.
Cardi B’s Best Rap Album award & “Money” performance
Featuring a luxurious peacock train and a blinged-out piano, Bronx-native Cardi B’s “Money” performance reminded everyone that one of today’s most dominating artists was definitely in the building. She was also nominated five times (including Record of the Year and Album of the Year), and took home Best Rap Album.
Cardi B’s Spotify Top 200 Daily chart showed a bump post-Grammys, but it likely had little to do with her performance or award win:
At first glance, her overall chart score in the past month is already impressive: spending most of its time in the 900–1000+ “superstar” range, a familiar domain to only the most commercially successful artists.
She shows a somewhat delayed overall score bump six days later at 1385, but it ironically has nothing to do with “Money”, which shows a virtual flatline between (a still impressive) 100–130. This isn’t the most flattering response to her performance, but surely there are no hard feelings as her “Please Me” release with Bruno Mars on Feb 15th launched her chart performance up that week.
For the most high-profile artists, a more nuanced approach may be necessary, as the sheer number of charting tracks may make it harder to tease out actionable intelligence from the data.
Brandi Carlile’s awards & “The Joke” performance
Pacific Northwesterner Brandi Carlile single-handedly represented Americana during the 61st Grammys, taking home three trophies for Best American Roots Performance, Best American Roots Song and Best Americana Album. As if that weren’t enough, Billboard called her live rendition of “The Joke” the #3 best performance of the night.
Let ’em laugh while they can
Let ’em spin, let ’em scatter in the wind
I have been to the movies, I’ve seen how it ends
And the joke’s on them — “The Joke” by Brandi Carlile
A song “for people that feel under-represented, unloved or illegal” in today’s highly charged sociopolitical environment, the message seemed to resonate:
Multiplying its overall score 5x on the iTunes Genre Charts, to say “The Joke” over-indexed post-Grammys would be an understatement. Averaging in the 150–250 range prior, the track peaked at 1018 after Feb 10.
Interestingly enough, “Americana” music isn’t just for Americans apparently: clicking on the track’s Feb 12th data, we see that iTunes downloaders in Japan, Germany and Mexico loved it in the Singer/Songwriter category.
Another connection that may be easy to forget is the difference in between the charts. If we hold the parent company (Apple) constant, we can arguably compare streaming and download activity between Apple Music and iTunes.
At first glance, the Apple Music Genre Chart scores seems to more or less mimic the earlier iTunes trends…but only in shape! Remember since we are using the same digital revenue constants for each territory, we can use the overall/track scores for comparison, even cross-platform.
So “The Joke” on Apple Music, while peaking over a 4–5 day period like on iTunes, only peaked at 641, 62% of the iTunes peak of 1018. This can say something about how Carlile’s audience consumes her content, preferring a paid download over streaming activity, and may be evidence about the consumer habits of the larger Americana fanbase. It’s certainly an insight asking for further detective work.
Kacey Musgraves’ multiple awards & “Rainbow” performance
Taking home four Grammys (Best Country Solo Performance, Best Country Album, Best Country Song and the coveted Album of the Year), Texas-born Kacey Musgraves added on a quiet and emotional performance of her ballad “Rainbow” to her already amazing night.
Despite Spotify’s strong push into the Country genre with Hot Country, currently the 10th most followed playlist on the Swedish platform, the genre’s current queen unfortunately has not found considering streaming success there despite her career-changing Grammy night.
“Rainbow”, the only track appearing on the Spotify Top 200 in the past month, sparked a barely noticeable reaction on Feb 12 at a score of 40, though it does provide a long tail sustaining interest already two weeks from the event.
But what’s a real treat- and likely a reflection of the strength of her Album of the Year, “Golden Hour”- is how her tracks did on Apple Music:
Where Monáe’s overall score on the Apple Music Genre Chart only peaked around 160, Musgraves’ overall score peaks above 9700, dominating most major markets’ Country genre chart.
The most flattering depiction here though is Musgraves’ chart performance by track, or more importantly: tracks. Notice the 10+ tracks all showing peak scores above 400, and even her earlier work like “Merry Go ‘Round”, which won Best Country Song at the 56th Grammys in 2012.
So not only was her Grammy night showing a “curiosity” or “recall” bump of new and old fans playing her catalog tracks, but her newest Grammy-winning album was getting album-length streaming play (not just one hit) on Apple Music, a platform still working on its strength in country streaming activity.
This could be just as much as reflection of Musgraves’ album quality as well as the listening habits of Apple Music country listeners. More data would be needed from Musgraves’ Apple Music backend, but there is certainly more than enough proof here to see that the country singer’s Album of the Year win was with good reason.
Weighted Charts: Not Just for Special Events
As fun as it is to look at how a Grammy Awards night affects an artist online, it’s certainly not just for event-based analysis.
As time goes on, you may see other common trends on these charts, such as your overall score popping up every Friday, due to new tracks that got placed into major playlists on IFPI’s designated Global Release Day.
For example, though Canadian rapper Drake took home Best Rap Song among several Grammy nominations, there really seemed to be no effect on his Spotify Top 200 chart performance after Feb 10. In typical Drake fashion, he simply put out a bunch of new tracks that ended up charting upon release.
While this might become commonplace for some artists, you can also use the overall and track scores to compare different weeks with each other….maybe worth a comparison if you performed different types of social media campaign strategies for different releases.
The possibilities are up to you!
Enjoy the weighted charts? Check them out for free.
Have any additional insights on the charts? Let us know at social (at) chartmetric (dot) com.