Big Data analytics might be able to predict the music stars of the future, but as for music’s present-day stars, many could be found onstage at the recent 2014 iHeartRadio Music Festival.
From Taylor Swift and Coldplay to Usher and 50 Cent, there’s no question that this year’s two-day festival gave music fans their money’s worth. Still, if you’re a fan of both music and data, and who isn’t, you can’t help but wonder how today’s top musical talents stack up to the most popular musical artists of all time.
Figuring that you were secretly dying to know, we gathered some music statistics (average number of albums sold, weeks spent on Billboard 100, number of concerts played per year, average number of paparazzi punched, etc.,) crunched the numbers and charted them. Here are some highlights of what we found.
Opening the first night of the iHeartRadio Music Festival, Taylor Swift turned heads and wowed the crowd as usual. Performing roughly 30 concerts per year, averaging sales of 5.2 million units for every album released, and boasting an average of 33 weeks spent on the Billboard 100, Taylor is a hugely popular contemporary star whose 10-year career shows no signs of slowing down. Out of iHeartRadio performers this year, she’s spent the most average number of weeks in the Billboard Top 100.
Taylor Swift even beat out artists like Usher and Coldplay who have been around for a longer period of time.
As far as comparisons to “all time favorite female vocalists” go, Madonna, Mariah Carey, and Whitney Houston have Taylor Swift beat with average album sales of 25 million, 14 million, and 33 million, respectively. In Swift’s defense, the three aforementioned divas achieved those stellar stats over the course of many more years than Swift’s 10-year career—and counting.
In fact, Madonna, Mariah Carey, Celine Dion and Whitney Houston have so many record sales, that they’ve all been rounded to the nearest hundred million.
Closing off the first night of the festival in a duet with Chris Brown, Usher showed why he has averaged 6 million album sales per new release, and averaged 32 weeks on the Billboard 100. That last statistic beats out such all time heavyweights as Elvis Presley, Elton John and Michael Jackson. But the King, Sir Elton, and the King of Pop more than make up for it with total album sales of 600 million, 300 million and 400 million respectively, compared to Usher’s very respectable 42 million albums sold. Below is a chart depicting average number of sales per album by each artist (both old and new). The average number of sales per album ensures that we’re controlling for some artists who have recorded more albums than newcomers, such as Iggy Azalea.
With their unique sound and Chris Martin’s signature vocals, Coldplay cranked out cool renditions of “Clocks” and “Viva la Vida” for screaming fans. Over their 18-year career, the band boasts total album sales of almost 57 million, playing over 30 concerts a year and averaging 22 weeks on the Billboard 100.
Needless to say, The Beatles stats—600 million total albums sold with an average of 128 concerts per year—make Coldplay’s stats pale in comparison. Not to mention every other band in history. The Beatles and Elvis Presley both beat out newcomers, One Direction. Coldplay ranks seventh on this list, as a matter of fact.
Over the course of his 18-year career, popular rapper 50 Cent has racked up some impressive stats. Averaging just over 5 million album sales per new release, 50 Cent has been nominated for 187 awards in the music industry and taken home 73. In addition, his average hang time on the Billboard 100 is 23 weeks. How does he compare to other artists in award wins?
50 Cent is only 9th on this list, with Michael Jackson being the clear leader, followed by Whitney Houston and then Mariah Carey as a distant third.
Decked out in a cat-ear headband and thigh high stiletto boots, Ariana Grande, whose star first rose on Nickelodeon, showed why her music has dominated the airwaves all summer. During her 6-year career, Ariana has a Billboard 100 average of 8 weeks, she’s performed over 170 concerts, and has sold some 656,000 albums.
This English-Irish pop boy band made its appearance on the second night of the iHeartRadio Music Festival, along with Lorde, Iggy Azalea and Ed Sheeran. Playing an average of 68 concerts per year, One Direction has achieved major success in just 4 short years. With aggregate album sales totaling nearly 12 million, and a Billboard 100 average of over 17 weeks, One Direction’s future appears to be headed in well, one direction. Up.
What would the iHeartRadio festival have been without Weezer? With a new album due out in October, Weezer had all the right credentials for the iHeartRadio stage, including a 10 week Billboard 100 average, and nearly 18 million albums sold in the band’s 22-year career. While not a contender for a top spot on the most popular artists of all time list, millions of loyal Weezer fans might beg to differ.
So there you have it. Once again, the iHeartRadio Music Festival is history. Thanks to great events such as iHeartRadio and other music festivals, bands and artists both new and established have a chance to carve out their own special places in history. Want to give the data a look for yourself? Download this dataset from Statistic Brain.
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