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Data Dive: Older Artists More Popular On Social Media

1Although social media is often touted as one of the best ways for up and coming artists to find success, a look at the data reveals that older artists are actually seeing more popularity than their more contemporary peers, particular when it comes to genres like rock.


By Cortney Harding

Welcome to the first installment of the Data Dive, a collaboration between Hypebot and Senzari. We’ll be posting periodic pieces where we comb through Senzari’s social data and pull out some interesting insights about popular music, and provide analysis of what those trends might mean. First up, a look at the top artists on social media for April 20-May 20.

When it comes to social media stardom, it pays to be famous -- and it also pays to have been around for a while.

The first point isn’t surprising; it stands to reason that well-known musicians also have big fanbases that want to follow them on social platforms. But what’s more interesting is that legacy acts (including artists who are no longer living) put up big numbers in the social space as well. Despite all the talk of social media being a place to break new artists, the data points to the old guard winning the war for followers.


This trend does vary by genre. The top ten pop artists on Instagram are all fairly predictable and current (Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, Beyonce, etc). Rock, however, seems stuck in the past with Motorhead, Metallica, Foo Fighters, and Lenny Kravitz all in the top ten. Rap trends along the same lines, with 50 Cent and Eminem near the top.



Similarly, Twitter’s top pop stars are contemporary, while rock seems about ready to retire. Coldplay aside, other top rockers on Twitter include, Yoko Ono, Ozzy Osbourne, and British comedy and music legend Bill Bailey. And Facebook is even more ancient -- of the ten most liked rock bands, none rose to fame in the 2010s and only three in the 2000s; the remainder of the list are all right at home on the classic rock station.



Rap likewise seems to favor elder statesmen -- the top rap artists on Twitter include Snoop Dogg, Eminem, and three different accounts related to Diddy/P. Diddy/Puff Daddy. Over on Facebook, Eminem, Jay-Z, Will Smith, 50 Cent, and Snoop Dogg all have top like counts.


Even the biggest movers (those who gained the most followers over the last month) tend to be older. The biggest gains on Facebook in rock came from artists like Jimi Hendrix and the Scorpions; on Instagram, Mick Jagger and Aerosmith saw huge jumps in followers. Here, rap differs, as most of the artists gaining followers are newer and younger.



The biggest takeaway is that rock is having a hard time minting new stars -- while other genres continue to nurture younger artists, rock seems content to rest on its laurels and rock fans seem to prefer known commodities.