The Trouble With Music Statistics

REMINDER! Kickstarter goes live tonight just after midnight, Pacific time.

Music statistics as a way of judging success are interesting and less straightforward than one might think. For example, Bandcamp tracks total number of plays broken down into total completed, total past the 10% mark but before the 99% mark, and skips (before the 10% mark).

Seems basic, but it doesn’t always signal if someone likes a song. I’ll do a quick earcheck on songs I love sometimes to see if it’s the one I was thinking of, and I might listen to one I feel meh about a couple of times to find that trouble spot so I can pass that info on to the artist.

For example, In the Darkness is my most played song. It’s #1 in total completed plays. It’s #3 in the most skipped song list. It’s skip percentage is 28.5% which puts it middle of the pack. And it’s never been bought as a single. (Which is not indicative of anything much since people could have loved it enough to buy the album).

Cruel Sister on the other hand, which is my second most played song is #15 for completed plays, and ranks rock bottom for both total number of skips and skip percentage. It also has one download.

How does one define success? In purchases? In people’s willingness to press play? In whether they keep listening? Some combination thereof?

Or do you ignore the stats completely and judge the success of a song by the number of people who pounce you in excitement proclaiming its their new favorite song and the BEST THING EVER!!!

Because you know it did what it was supposed to. Connect to someone. Make them feel like there’s someone else who understands what it’s like or pulled them out of a dark place.

So without knowing the numbers, what would you pick as your favorite songs? How would you measure success? I’m curious to see how that lines up with the numbers on my brightly colored graphs.

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