Favorite Artists

I’m currently working on a user research project on why people love their favorite artists. The goal is to understand the threshold between discovering a new favorite artist and seeing them live in concert. I also want to learn whether the number of favorite artists users report influences the number of live concerts they attend.

I’m surveying users on their most recent favorite artist, how they discovered them, how recently they found them, and whether they have seen them perform live in concert. I remember a user from a previous study tell me that they haven’t discovered a new artist since they saw them on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon over six months ago.

This surprised me at first. One, I don’t often think of TV as a discovery platform and two, because over six months ago seems like a long time. But the more I thought about this the more it made sense.

Discovering a new favorite artist is actually a rare event.

If serendipity is your primary means of discovery, it doesn’t happen fast. You have to pay attention to media and what your friends are playing for a long time before a new favorite artist comes along.

And to a casual but passionate listener finding a new favorite artist every six months or more is probably still seen as huge success.

I’m also asking users how many favorite artists they have and looking to see how that correlates with how many concerts they attend. Given the abundance of music, the prevalence of Internet radio services, and the rise of subscription services, I’m curious if younger fans report that they have more favorite artists. Today’s fans have a lot more access to music at a much lower cost; they pay with their attention over money.

However, it could also be argued that the genre of music popular with younger fans — namely EDM — doesn’t revolve around favorite artists.

This all centers on a larger question: What is a favorite artist?


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