Viral Artist Discovery

New music and artists are being discovered organically around the world every day on social media. Scarcely a week passes without some hot new video making its rounds on the internet, gaining millions of views, clicks, and comments - all without a dime spent on advertising.

This earned organic traction - virality - is the holy grail of visibility and cannot be bought.

So how can one tell when a piece of music is going to grab listeners and make them want to share with everyone they know? How do you know whether something is likely to go viral?


We took a look at each of the Weekly Viral Top 20 tracks on Spotify in 5 different Southeast-Asian countries (October 22) and used the Tag Demo to extract information about different tastes in the region. Specifically, Singapore, Vietnam, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand.

Preliminary Findings

  1. Viral tracks in Singapore featured the most negative emotional content, while tracks in Vietnam featured no negative emotional content.
  2. Pop tops the Viral charts in Singapore, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Thailand, but Hip Hop (and very local at that) reigns supreme in Vietnam.
  3. All of these countries preferred Minor Key music, except Thailand, which showed a 78.95% preference for Major Key music.

For brevity, we are showing only figures of the most interesting results. To see all figures, please click here to download a PDF with all results.



Pop and Hip-Hop are top 2 in all 5 countries. Pop makes a near clean sweep as the number 1 genre in 4 countries, defeated only in Vietnam, by Hip Hop.

The 3rd most popular genre is far more diverse: Electronic in Singapore, Folk in Malaysia and Thailand, R&B in Indonesia, and curiously enough, songs with elements of UK Grime make a respectable showing at number 3 in Vietnam.

Source: Genre Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

Viral songs in Singapore leaned strongly Pop and Hip-Hop, which were both evenly matched. Electronic was the next strongest contender at 10.4%.

In Malaysia, Pop took the lion's share at 48%, Hip-Hop scored less than a third of that at 14.7%, and Folk followed closely behind at 10.8%.

In Indonesia, Pop and Hip-Hop had a fairly equal lead with 28.4% and 22.1%. Folk and R&B made a strong showing with 16% and 13.1% respectively.

Vietnam was the only country where Hip Hop took the lead at 37.6%, followed by Pop at 30%. It was the only country to feature UK Grime (12.2%) as a primary genre, and Folk was notably absent.

Pop had the highest score of any genre with 54.9%, nearly 5 times as much as Hip Hop.



The results indicated an overwhelming preference for medium energy in the region.

Source: Energy Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

Vietnam had the most interesting result, with 30% of the top 20 Viral songs exhibiting a high energy level, the highest of all 5 countries.



Mood preferences were fairly scattered across the board, but Romantic topped the lists in Singapore, Malaysia, and Thailand (with Thailand scoring the highest in that mood). It was also the only Mood to make it to the top 3 of all countries.

Source: Mood Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

Romantic was top in Singapore with 33.6% Its 15.9% score on Relaxed came in lowest of all 5 countries.

Romantic and Relaxed essentially tied for 1st place in Malaysia at 25.9% and 25.8% respectively, followed by Quirky at 19.4%.

Quirky dominated Indonesia at 31.9%, followed by Relaxed and Romantic at 28.5% and 20.1% respectively.

Vietnam is the only country that displayed Energetic tag. Quirky also scores lowest here (13.4%) in the entire dataset.

In Thailand, the top 3 moods, Romantic, Relaxed, and Quirky took up 92.9% of the total score, pointing to an overwhelming preference for these moods.



Broadly, Singapore and Malaysia scored high for Negative Emotion, while Indonesia, Vietnam, and Thailand showed a clear preference for Positive Emotion.

Source: Emotion Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

Singapore showed the strongest preference for Negative Emotion, with a 66.62% score.

Vietnam was the only country to feature a 0% Negative score, and the highest (82.85%) Positive score. Its score for Neutral was also the highest of the set, with 17.15%.



All 5 countries showed very distinct preferences for Male VS Female VS Combined Vocals, though there was a general preference for Male Vocals overall. Let's take a closer look.

Source: Vocal Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

Singapore showed the greatest preference for Male Only vocals (55%) out of all 5 countries.

Malaysia showed the most equal preference between Male only and Female only Vocals.

Indonesia showed a fairly equal preference between Male only and Female only Vocals (skewing slightly Female), but a relatively high (30%) preference for Combined Vocals

Vietnam showed a clear preference for Male only Vocals at 50%

Thailand had the greatest score for combined vocals at 36.8%.



Overall, there was a general preference for Minor Key music, with Thailand being the only country to show a preference for Major Key music (and an overwhelming one at that, with a score of 78.95%).

Vietnam scored the highest (75%) in its preference for Minor Key music.

Source: Key Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)



In this chart, we have tabulated the Tempo of every song from each country, and arranged them from lowest BPM to highest BPM. The ranges of these are mostly fairly similar, with 4 of them starting at 60+BPM and going all the way up to 160+BPM.

Thailand, however, is a significant outlier as its tempo only goes up to 125BPM and no higher, which is very interesting. Let's take a look at a side-by-side comparison of the graphical representation of Tempo from Thailand and Indonesia.

Source: Tempo Tags From Spotify: Southeast Asia Weekly Viral Top 20 (As Of Oct 22 2020)

The Indonesia figure is fairly representative of Singapore, Malaysia, and Vietnam.

Using the same scale, Thailand, in contrast, has a clearly visible preference for lower tempos.

Discussion & Implications

Southeast-Asia is NOT homogenous in musical taste

The region is not monolithic, and localizing music launch and promotion efforts will be key in determining the organic success of musical artists in the region. It is near impossible to do this without rigorous data gathering and analysis, which would give anyone in the region's music industry a great advantage.

This, no doubt, applies to the rest of the world, which is gloriously diverse. In our age of technology, this level of research will eventually become normal. Artists and Indie labels seeking to develop pinpoint accuracy on a limited budget, and huge established labels looking to break into new niches with an informed local, regional, and global strategy, will all benefit.

What else is out there?

We've only scratched the surface analyzing 20 top Viral hits in 5 countries... this last week. There are many more countries, and 52 weeks in a year. You could even be more granular about it and examine these lists on a daily basis with a custom automated solution, which would provide you 365 days of data per year to observe and possibly predict trends.

You could have a musical map of the world.

Who goes out into the wildnerness without a map?

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