David at Digital Audio Insider wrote an interesting article on using Last.fm Statistics to Quantify Audience Devotion. Audience devotion here refers to how many repeated listens a band’s tracks receive. Basically, do people keep listening to the band?:
I thought it’d be fun to use Last.fm statistics to try to devise a measure of “audience devotion.” Using the most popular act in the Last.fm database (The Beatles) as a comparison point, I looked up the total number of listeners and the total number of plays for 49 other acts. They include some of the biggest names in “indie” rock, some fairly unknown local acts, and a few various names from my iTunes library. I divided the number of plays for each artist by the total number of listeners to create a “plays-per-listener” ratio and then ranked the spreadsheet by that number.
As the article notes, it’s hard to game this number, so it should be a stable indicator of popularity. If your music is tracked through the last.fm database, this could be a good metric to track your own success.
Tangentially related, Coolfer has another analysis of trends in album sales, this time highlighting the continuing shift from an industry dominated by a few top sellers:
As the theory of the long tail would predict, the Top 200 accounts for a lower percent of total album sales today that it did three years ago. Between July 2004 and June 2007, that percent dropped about five points to about 35% from 40%.
There’s that long tail again…