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Factors of the International Success of Popular Music Compositions

Student: Lada Litvinova

Supervisor: Valentina Kuskova

Faculty: International laboratory for Applied Network Research

Educational Programme: Applied Statistics with Network Analysis (Master)

Final Grade: 8

Year of Graduation: 2020

Presented paper is devoted to the uncertainty about skewed reward observed in the industry of popular music. Body of literature claims that small number of performers dominate music industry. This phenomenon cannot be explained exceptionally by quality of music. Raised Internet inflates completeness of the market. Thus, equally talented or slightly different in talent musicians differ dramatically in gained success. Key research question of presented study is why very similar music can be dramatically different in gained success. Main goal of the study is to model success depends on various factors and determine the key success factors. Scope of literature was scrutinized, and theoretical model was elaborated. We explored success and paths toward success from different perspectives: traditional vs. modern way of communication, local vs. international market, artistic vs. mass legitimation. In results, analytical model of reaching success from all these perspectives was formulated. Such factors as language, frequency of concert and releases, role of managers and stakeholders, promotion and marketing strategies, collaboration with outside professional record companies were considered. Theoretical model representing all parts of musical product lifecycle and those elements of them which might be related to the success has been developed. Obtained model represents traditional way of music production and distribution and traditional success. The extent to which it can reflect modern scenario of success was discussed. Main specificity of the study is integration of different aspects of the musical product, such as technical audio characteristics (loudness, tempo, key, mode, duration and instruments), personnel (number of musicians, average age, share of women), communication and promotion (video, usage in media, performing lives), career stage (number of albums released and years of musician presence), record companies (number and power of labels). That was the list of factors and indicators included in the resulted statistical model. Catboost classifier was implemented for binary classification modeling. Statistical model that defines whether a song is a hit or not based on the attributes from above was built. All the analysis was performed in Python programming language. Resulted model has extremely high metrics of quality. It appears that the most important attributes for predicting commercial success of popular music compositions are number of labels, having a video, high loudness (presumably determined by high quality of a record), usage a song in media, number of albums released before a song, live performance of a song and label power. The results show pivotal role of promotion, communication, and association with powerful market players. This assures the idea from which the current research problem was born. The way music sounds does not determine its success. There is a lot more outside the sound. The results we obtained reflect relationship between different factors of music production and performance, and musical compositions’ commercial success. The paper expands existing literature on music scenes and suggests a complex way for advancing research on pop music compositions’ success. Finally, it makes an important empirical contribution to musicology area. Whereas music is not pure creativity, but like any art it is an industry, the results of current study can raise interest not only among academics, but also among music industry decision-makers such as managers, labels, and producers.

Full text (added May 31, 2020)

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