You’ve probably suspected it all along, but it’s true: They’re listening in. No, not just the National Security Agency and its controversial surveillance program, but music streaming services like Spotify, Pandora and even YouTube.
These companies have been keeping a close eye — or is it an ear — on the who, what, where and when of what we listen to musically. Spotify recently made public some of the data it’s collected from its users and the takeaway might come as a surprise to fans of mainstream pop music.
While pop artist the Weeknd may have hundreds of millions more plays on Spotify, it’s metal bands like Cradle of Filth that have attracted long-term loyalty on the streaming platform.
As for YouTube, it’s taking analytics one step further and adding a geographical twist. On a site the video-sharing giant recently rolled out, anyone can see where YouTube’s top 10,000 most popular artists are getting the most plays.
Take John Legend — he’s getting the most YouTube attention not in Los Angeles or New York, but in Quezon City, Philippines.
Country star Kacey Musgraves? She’s most YouTube famous much closer to home in Houston. But that’s not really a huge surprise for the Texas native.
But what if you’re an established but lesser-known band — like a band on the Frame today, Algiers? They’re not currently one of YouTube’s top 10,000, according to a quick search on the YouTube Music Insights site. YouTube may soon let smaller artists like Algiers track where in the world their songs are getting the most plays, which can help bands plan their long-dreamed-of summer tour.
As Apple readies its own streaming service, it makes sense that competitors like Google, which owns YouTube, and Spotify would want to make nice with artists.
After all, the vast majority of artists with videos on YouTube aren’t making any real money from those thousands of plays. And while Spotify might be raking in the dough, the artists on its service aren't getting rich either.