Chartmetric’s Trigger Cities are “cities around the world that “trigger” favorable algorithmic effects on music streaming platforms and help grow your audience worldwide”
These cities feature:
- ‘Deep’ and ‘Broad’ Music Streaming Consumption:
“The traditional centers of the music industry… exhibit decent amounts of YouTube music consumption…However, in terms of pure consumption, they get doubled or tripled by Trigger Cities.”
- Lower Advertising Costs:
”…you can advertise to more than twice as many cities for less money by focusing on Trigger Cities rather than on international music industry hubs.”
AN AI-DRIVEN COMPARISON
Chartmetric’s findings were driven by rigorous analysis of user behavior. The question is, are there any underlying, purely musical factors driving this behavior? Our goal here is to provide an extra layer of musical context to labels and artists hoping to break in these cities as part of their global strategy.
To do this, our AI (trained on 2 centuries of music), analyzed 3 sets of Spotify Top 200 tracks (total 7800 songs, including duplicates within sets) from H2 2020 (July, September, November), and compared them to discover any meaningful trends.
(For this study, “Trigger Countries” are defined as countries with the highest “Trigger Populations” i.e. Trigger City Population/Total Population.)
- Trigger Countries – Spotify Top 200
- Non-Trigger Countries – Spotify Top 200
- United Kingdom
- South Africa
- Global – Spotify Top 200
Out of 84 available genres in our taxonomy, here were the top 7 in the Global set.
- Top 7 Global Genres (at least 5% of whole set)
- Hip Hop
- Electro Pop
On average, the top 7 Genres in Trigger Countries matched the top 7 Global Genres 23.81% more accurately than the top 7 Genres in Non Trigger Countries.
The biggest difference between Trigger and Non Trigger countries occurred between their matches with Latin and Reggaeton Genres. These genres occurred only 8.33% of the time in Non-Trigger countries – representing a massive departure from Global preferences.
Considering that these two Genres account for 17.72% of all tagged Global Genres, this suggests that Genre is a big factor in determining an artist’s success in a Trigger Country/City, and eventually on the Global stage.
The top 6 Moods in the Global Top 200 were:
- Top 6 Moods (at least 5% of whole set)
On average, the top 6 Moods in Trigger Countries matched the top 6 Global Moods 11.11% more accurately than the top 6 Moods in Non Trigger Countries.
The biggest difference between Trigger and Non Trigger countries occurred between their matches with Happy Mood. This Mood occurred 66.7% less in Non-Trigger countries – representing a fairly significant departure from Global preferences.
This suggests that artists who wish to succeed in Trigger Cities should very strongly consider giving their music a Happy mood. However, considering that Happy makes up only 5.77% of total Global Mood preference, a lack of this mood may not be a complete dealbreaker.
Globally, there was a strong preference for:
- Positive Mood Valence (75%), then
- Negative Mood Valence (21%), followed by
- Neutral Mood Valence (4%).
On average, Trigger Countries reflected this in the extreme, with 95% preference for Positive, 3% Negative, and 1% Neutral.
For artists, this possibly means that Negative or Neutral music may not break in Trigger Countries, so they may need to avoid that Mood Valence if they are aiming there. However, if they are planning to release music in Non Trigger Countries, they would have more flexibility to adopt a Negative Mood Valence.
Globally, there was a strong preference for:
- Male Vocal (61%), then
- Female Vocal (30%), followed by
- Mixed Vocal (10%)
All sets displayed very similar preferences, which would indicate a universality of preference in this category, though Trigger Cities demonstrated the strongest preference for Male Vocal.
Globally, there was a preference for:
- Minor Key (60%)
- Major Key (40%)
Overall, key preferences were fairly similar, with Trigger Cities favoring Major keys slightly more often than the other sets (45%) and Non Trigger Cities favoring Minor keys slightly more often than the other sets (65%).
For tempo, all triggered events were taken into account. As you can see in the following graph, Non-Trigger Countries have BPM preferences that closely match Global trends.
Beyond an initial extreme version of the bump experienced by all sets at 90-99 BPM (which accounts for a whopping 30% of Trigger Countries’ overall Tempo preferences, Trigger Countries do not share a great deal in common Tempo-wise with the other sets.
Since the Non Trigger Countries show less of an increase at this range than Global, this suggests that Trigger Countries are responsible for skewing the Global average tempo preference in this specific range upward.
Beyond the intersection point of all 3 sets at 109 BPM, Trigger Countries appear to pull down the average Global tempo preference consistently. This pattern can be observed in a smaller but consistent way at other inflection points (~79 BPM and ~166 BPM)
Seeing as songs above 109 BPM do less well in Trigger Countries (consistently <10%), artists who wish to break in these countries may want to stick to <109 BPM songs, while artists who plan to release music in other Non Trigger Countries may stand a better chance of breaking globally if they write music that is 109 BPM or higher.
A SUCCESSFUL SONIC PROFILE
Sech – Relación
This is the sonic profile of a song that completely fits with the results we’ve seen. Latin & Reggaeton, Medium Energy, Romantic and Energetic Mood, Male Vocals, Minor Key, and right smack in that sweet Tempo spot at 89 BPM. A song like this might be reliably expected to do well in one of the Trigger Countries like Peru (#1, 2 July 2020 Peru Top 200), and also place relatively high (#29, 2 July 2020) on the Spotify Global Top 200.
There’s room to experiment with Genre, of course. Let’s take a look at another song that fits well within this sonic profile.
Cardi B – WAP feat. Meghan Thee Stallion
Hip Hop is the most popular Genre in the world. Medium Energy, Quirky and Energetic Mood, Minor Key, and the tempo of 134 BPM falls within the second most preferred range of tempos Globally.
The main thing that does not line up with our results is the presence of Female Vocals, but there is a 30% Global preference for Female vocals, which is not insignificant, so considering that this has all the other elements of a hit – perhaps its success was something predictable.
Music is incredibly diverse and subject to many forces beyond just “how it sounds”, but there are clear and analyzable sonic qualities here that correlate with the behaviors demonstrated in Chartmetric’s Trigger Cities.
Paying close attention to how global sonic trends develop in a concrete way by analyzing large numbers of songs with demonstrable commercial success will be key in giving artists and labels a competitive edge and relevant sound.
By combining Chartmetric’s data on listener behavior with our data on the sound of the most successful songs in the world, we can present a complete and detailed picture of the global musical landscape that artists and labels can take note of as they work on breaking the internet with the next global musical sensation.
By demonstrating that Trigger Countries’ musical preferences are better matched with Global Preferences, with only a few exceptions. The data supports Chartmetric’s conclusion that artists who break out in Trigger Cities are more likely to then go on and achieve commercial success globally.
Meanwhile, artists who only break out in Non-Trigger Cities may have a lower likelihood of achieving global commercial success, but could possibly mitigate this by playing to the strengths of their particular market which correlate more strongly with Global preferences.
Musiio's resident Music Strategist and Music nerd. I ran an orchestra for 5 years, a virtual industry community of 7000 for 3 years, and currently run a small globally distributed creative audio team and compose commercially. I also like rocks and cats.