It’s been a good year for Last.fm, the social network / Internet radio station. It’s grown its market share amongst music websites by 22%, sold itself to CBS in May for $280m, and has now struck a deal with music industry bible Music Week to provide weekly charts based on its listening data. The idea behind the charts is track listening habits, rather than music sales, in order to identify up and coming new artists and songs. The chart below illustrates the growth in UK Internet traffic to last.fm, but excludes traffic generated by its downloadable app.
In order to validate the claim that Last.fm is a good way of predicting the Next Big Thing, I went back to start of the year. The table below lists the top search terms sending traffic to the last.fm site for the first 12 weeks of this year.
Overall, its hit rate seems pretty good. The Gossip really took off in this year, and lead singer Beth Ditto has become an inescapable presence in the UK media; while Mika’s 'Grace Kelly' spent 5 weeks at number 1 in January and February. Last.fm has also proven successful at predicting which artists were about to stage a comeback: Avril Lavigne returned to the UK charts in the middle of April with a number 1 album. The Take That revival was already well under way by Christmas, but the success of second single 'Shine' proved that 'Patience' wasn’t a one off.
So what do the latest 12 weeks of search data tell us about the future of music? It’s not great news I’m afraid – the second most searched for term is ‘timeandaword’, which is the title of an album by 70’s prog rock dinosaurs Yes. Let’s just hope this doesn’t signal the imminent return of hour long keyboard solos and concept albums.
Robin Goad is Research Director, Hitwise UK. This piece was originally published on Hitwise analyst blog here.
Flickr photo by: nessie420