We’re big data nerds at Songkick, and ever since we launched our mondo database of past concerts over a year ago, we’ve been dying to do some analysis on all that data. Today, we have over 1.8 million concerts, and our mission is the same: have every concert and festival that ever happened or is going to happen–all in one place–so you can track your favorite bands and never miss them live. You can be confident that when you track a band on Songkick, we’ll be the first to tell you about concerts before tickets go on sale. Then, after the show, we want to give you a place to share your experience, to add your photos, videos, setlists, posters, and ticket stubs, so together we’ll build a site that really represents how awesome last night’s concert was.
We’ve been working our asses off towards that goal in the past year, but we finally took the time to see what interesting stuff our data could tell us. Here are the results:
We wanted to do a top 10 list that reveals something unexpected about the best places to see a show. We analyzed rock shows per capita in 2010–where rock includes everything from emo to indie. We hope you’ll agree that the list is surprising. Austin really earns its title of live-music capital of the world. It’s also nice to see Denver, Seattle, Portland, and Nashville on the list, since our hunch was that they’re hotbeds of good live music. (If our lean start-up nerdery has taught us anything, it’s measure measure measure and validate assumptions… Pity the fool who doesn’t use metrics.) The average rock show ticket prices are surprising too. Who knew it was so expensive to see a rock concert in Las Vegas?
This is the graph we love the most!! We were inspired by this economics study by a group of Harvard and Stanford academics (Hi Julie and Chris!) that examines the relationship between file-sharing and live music, concluding that file-sharing “increases live performance revenues for small artists, perhaps through increased awareness. The impact on live performance revenues for large, well-known artists is negligible.” The minute we read the study it felt right to us. We dug into this more by dividing our artists into quartiles based on popularity and examined their US tour dates over the last four years. The fourth quartile (least popular bands, long-tail acts) has had the fastest growth in touring over the last 4 years, while the first quartile (most popular bands) has had about the same number of concerts over the last 4 years.
The great power of digital distribution is that it’s much easier to discover and listen to new bands. Back when we had to hunt down physical albums in stores, our rate of new artist discovery was much, much lower. That means a new band can build a widespread following much more efficiently than back-in-the-day, and can therefore do a world tour a lot earlier in their career, whereas huge, popular acts like U2 and Rolling Stones are already big as ever, and won’t benefit from this additional digital distribution. (I mean… Die Antwoord anyone? When has a South African artist skyrocketed to stardom through the Interweb like that?)
We hope this opens up a discussion about how live music is contributing to artists’ revenues and whether bands can sustainably make a living by going on the road. What we’re happy about as fans is that our chances of seeing The Antlers (a team Songkick favorite) is much higher now than four years ago.
This won’t be the last from us! If you have any ideas about what analysis you’d like to see next or want to do some number crunching of your own, please get in touch.
Thanks a billion to Michael and Gideon for making this analysis happen.
 Mortimer, Julie Holland, Chris Nosko, and Alan Sorenson, “Supply Responses to Digital Distribution: Recorded Music and Live Performances.” NBER Working Paper No. 16507. October 2010.
When indie O.G.s Yo La Tengo hit the road early next year, they’re not going to play any standard-issue greatest-hits-plus-new-shit sets. Instead, they’re trying out an appealingly goofy show concept, one that’ll probably lead them to stuff that they hardly ever play. Or show off their acting skills, if you’re lucky.
As the band announces on their website, they’ll start every show by spinning a giant wheel which has all sorts of ridiculous show concepts on it. They’ll let the wheel pick which one they’re going to do that night. Some of the concepts are pretty straightforward: They could play a set as their noisy garage alter-ego Condo Fucks, or as bassist James McNew’s solo project Dump. Or they’ll do a question-and-answer set, with music. Or they’ll play half of their instrumental film-accompaniment album The Sounds of Science, except without the film accompaniment.” —Pitchfork: Yo La Tengo Plan Insane Concept Tour