This is a follow up on our previous study on Viral music in Southeast Asia. In that pilot study, we analyzed 20 songs per country (total of 5) from the Spotify Top 50 Viral charts to form a broad picture of music preferences in the region. Arguably, not a particularly large sample set, so we decided to repeat it in a more robust manner.
A New Study, On Steroids
In this new study, we looked at the weekly Spotify Viral 50 charts of 6 countries over 52 weeks, from April 2020 to April 2021. A total of 15600 songs were analyzed by our Tag API, a vast improvement over the previous study. Out of these, a total of 2881 were unique songs that either stayed on the charts for more than a week, or that went viral in more than one country.
So, artists, labels, advertisers. and other businesses who want to know exactly what viral music in the region sounds like, let’s take a closer look! (Scroll to the bottom if you’d just like to see the raw figures)
Significant Observations In Genre
In general, the differences in Genre preferences between the 6 countries were not extreme. Overall, Pop, Hip Hop, and Electro Pop reigned supreme. However, there were two Genres worth highlighting.
Thailand had the lowest score for Hip-Hop, at 6.74%, while Vietnam scored the highest, at 11.6% (72% difference)
Singapore had the lowest Folk score, at 4.59%, while Indonesia scored 8.6% (87% difference)
Singapore and Malaysia – Not A Relaxed Pair
A stark difference emerged between countries in the ‘Relaxed’ Mood – with Singapore and Malaysia bringing up the rear at 16.69% and 16.8% respectively. In contrast, Thailand received a 28.56% score, a full 71% ahead.
In a seemingly related pattern, Thailand scored the lowest in the ‘Powerful’ mood at 11.55%, while Malaysia and Singapore took the lead with virtually identical scores, 16.7% and 16.49% respectively, a full 43% ahead of Thailand.
Thailand Loves 90 BPM
The most significant differences in tempo preference occurred in the 90-99 BPM band, with Indonesia only scoring 12.47%, and Thailand demonstrating the greatest affinity for it (20.02%) in contrast.
Southeast Asia Prefers Major Key Music
Notably, the entire SEA region demonstrates an affinity for Major Key music, with Thailand leading the pack at 71.53% of all its analyzed music being Major Key.
This is significantly different from the preferences of Global, South American, and other regions that we looked at in a previous study, which mostly leaned toward Minor Key music.
Southeast Asian Mood Preferences Differ From Global and USA
The above figure shows some Mood preference differences between SEA Viral music, USA Viral music, and Global Top 200 music. More than 20000 songs over 3 years went into this particular figure, and it shows stark differences in nearly all of the moods, with the most significant being the Romantic and Quirky moods.
These clear differences point to a need for regionally specific songwriting and production strategies.
Going Viral In One Country = Probably Going Viral In Another Country
Out of a total of 15600 songs on the Spotify Viral charts from 6 SEA countries, there was an average of only 2881 unique songs.
52 weeks of charts were analyzed from each SEA country. Out of the 2600 songs per country, there was an average of 804 unique songs.
This was very similar to the USA, where there were only 1587 unique songs, out of a total of 5200 songs.
The proportion of unique songs between the USA and the average SEA country were very similar. However, across the region, the number of unique songs as a proportion of the total was only 18.47%.
This means that 81.53% of the time, a song on one SEA country’s Viral chart could be found on another SEA country’s chart, suggesting a song that goes viral in one SEA country is highly likely to go viral in another SEA country as well.
While Viral Southeast Asian tastes are certainly not homogenous between the different countries, there is a clear overall sonic identity to the region. Songwriters, artists, and labels hoping to succeed in this part of the world would do well to take note of this and plan collaborations and album concepts accordingly!
See below for all the raw data.
I am a composer and run a small distributed music, voice, and audio production team comprised of experts in 3 countries. I have a deep interest in startups, business, venture capital, networking, and learning about new ideas. I love meeting founders, angels, and people in VC and private equity to talk shop and connect people that need each other. I've Served clients and brands including Ubisoft, Garena (SEA), IGG Games, Hogarth Worldwide, We Are Social, Moving Bits, Playstudios, Ferrero, Samsung, GSK, Pernod Ricard, Pan Pacific Hotels etc. I’ve also worked with Wang Leehom, Joanna Dong, Derrick Hoh, Luke Slott, and a number of other artists. Founded and ran a professional orchestra in Boston for 5 years.