Music. And its business.

Bill Werde
http://twitter.com/#!/bwerde
A glass of ice and a shotgun.

Yeah, I rock weekend nights

For those that follow me on Twitter, you know that last night’s highlight was following @annkpowers live tweet a Rush #rockdoc. Tonight I took it to a whole other level of nerdiness. Intrigued by this week’s reports of President Obama having a 70 percent inactive twitter following, I decided to dig into the music realm using the web app at http://fakers.statuspeople.com (SP) - the same one used by myriad journalists to go after Barack.

First the methodology: I used the top twitter follower lists at http://twittercounter.com/pages/100 (TC) and only focused on musical artists. FYI, seven of the top 10 (and nine of top 12) Twitter followings are musicians. I ran each account through the StatusPeople app, producing a three number score. So, for example, @LadyGaga topped the TwitterCounter lists with 28,746,622 followers. According to StatusPeople, 31 percent of those are “fakes,” and 40 percent are “inactive” leaving 29 percent as “active” followers. A little quick math and her active follower total is actually 8,336,520. For the purposes of sharing all my numbers crunching in a neat orderly list, I represent that as:

@ladygaga

28,746,622

31/40/29

8,336,520 

Let me say up front that all of this, obviously, is imperfect science. I basically just wanted to run everyone through the StatusPeople app, establish some norms, and see if I could catch any outliers. Ultimately, I observed a few things that I found interesting.

1. There wasn’t a ton of deviation near the top. Of the 15 music accounts that TC listed with more than 10 million followers, almost all were a few points north or south of a 30/40/30 breakdown. Only @shakira was an outlier here, with a rather gnarly 43/31/16. I did notice that the only other two accounts in the top 40 TC musicians that saw “fake” scores of 40 or above were also Latin: Brazilian singer @ivetesangalo and Spanish singer-songwriter @alejandrosanz. Maybe there is something particular to the Latin demo that attracts more bots? It didn’t hold true for @pitbull @jlo or @ricky_martin but those three have also had far more mainstream Anglo success.

2. I only found one major outlier, and that was @iamdiddy. The 27th most followed musical artist on Twitter with 7,762,054 followers, according to SP, a full 68 PERCENT of his followers were identified as fake, with another 17 percent inactive, leaving him only 15 percent active followers. Looking at the top 40 Twitter followings, I couldn’t find another artist with a fake percentage above 43. And most of the “fakest” accounts were around 33-36 percent. Maybe this means Diddy has been a bad boy (okay, sorry, just couldn’t help it) on Twitter. But I will say again, there do seem to be some bugs with StatusPeople. The app returned @Juanes, for example, as 100 percent of his 2 million+ followers being fake. Then again, this was the only (seemingly obvious) bug I found.

3. The best ratio of the top 10 musicians belonged to  @nickiminaj with 34 percent active. The best in the top 20, by far, was @drake ‘s 46 percent active. Others coming close were @chrisbrown at 37 and, while not in the top 20 (he was 21) @kanyewest at 44 percent. But this does beg the question: If Drake and Kanye can have more than 8 million followers and keep their active base at around 50 percent, why do @ladygaga and @justinbieber and the rest of the top 10 musical acts only have 30 percent active bases? Are they buying follower bots to inflate their numbers? Or will one necessarily and unavoidably attract every spam bot in the world when you start to really scale the Everest of Twitter follow numbers?

Once I finished the Top 40 of TC, I hit the Top 10 of the Billboard Hot 100 Chart, where I found a few surprises. Here’s the artists behind this week’s Top 10 songs on the Billbard Hot 100, along with their Twitter following and their SP breakdowns:

@taylorswift13             17,816,750             30/40/30

@official_flo                  1,046,423             21/43/36

@elliegoulding             795,821             4/28/68

@carlyraejepsen             2,482,556             22/37/41

@katyperry                         25,547,332            37/41/22

@ournameisfun             200,607             5/30/65 

@maroon5                         1,364,927             14/33/53

Justinbieber                        27,079,044            30/40/30

@Maroon5

@Davidguetta             5,914,891             26/39/35

What immediate jumps out to me were the 65 and 68 active scores for @ournameisfun and @elliegoulding respectively. Obviously much smaller followings than Bieber. but much bigger active percentages than many artists with similar sized followings.

Finally, this brings me to some top active follower scores found through random sampling:

@frankocean                         1,394,216             4/19/77

@mumfordofficial             184,452             7/25/68

@edsheeran                        3,065,540            10/30/60

@radiohead                        757,367            8/35/57

@skrillex                          1,856,168            14/35/51

@springsteen                        257,120            12/39/49

So in conclusion: This isn’t strong science. But if these numbers are in the right ballpark, why can 60 percent of Ed Sheeran’s 3 million+ followers be active, and so many other top stars with similar followings be so far away from that figure? Leads me to believe that maybe – just maybe – the music business may be doing something less than 100 percent transparent when it comes to marketing hit songs and artists. But come on. That just couldn’t be true!

Kidding aside - and lest anyone start bloviating about major label marketing tactics - let me present the case of one @amandapalmer, seemingly every media outlet’s go-to as the standard bearer (and probably rightly so!) for the sanctity of indie cred. Of her 610k Twitter followers, 34 percent are fake, according to SP, and 41 percent are inactive, leaving a 25 percent active user base. Gaga, Bieber, Rihanna and a host of other top stars beat this on the percentages.

By the way: @Barackobama got a raw deal in those articles, which uniformly noted that 70 percent of his following was inactive, but mostly avoided providing context. It turns out that, according to StatusPeople, only @KimKardashian has a more active Twitter follower base than the POTUS amongst the top 10 Twitter accounts. (Someone else can discuss how I’ve buried the lede with this detail). Don’t hate the playa. Hate the game. 

Charts and data:

Top Artists Ranked according to TwitterCounter.com, with StatusPeople scores and calculated active followers.

1 @ladygaga 28,746,622 31/40/29 8,336,520

2 @justinbieber 27,079,044 30/40/30 8,123,713

3 @katyperry 25,547,332 37/41/22 5,620,413

4 @rihanna 24,729,010 34/41/25 6,182,253

5. @britneyspears 19,756,556 35/41/24 4,741,573

6 @shakira 17,967,289 43/31/16 2,874,766

7 @taylorswift13 17,816,750 30/40/30 5,345,025

8 @NICKIMINAJ 14,288,380 27/39/34 4,858,049

9 @jtimberlake 13,469,724 29/44/27 3,636,825

10. @selenagomez 12,444,492 23/44/33 4,106,682

11 @Eminem 12,147,434 25/40/35 4,251,602

12 @brunomars 11,587,419 21/34/35 4,055,597

13 @chrisbrown 11,149,421 23/40/37 4,125,286

14 @jlo 10,673,100 32/44/24 2,561,544

15. @pink 10,274,075 28/43/29 2,979,482

16 @snoopdogg 9,995,045 30/38/32 3,198,414

17 @aliciakeys 9,108,223 29/45/26 2,368,138

18 @officialadele 8,981,924 27/42/31 2,784,396

19 @ddlovato 8,865,041 31/37/32 2,836,813

20. @drake 8,742,968 18/36/46 4,021,765

21 @kanyewest 8,370,313 19/37/44

22 @mileycyrus 8,172,665 24/37/39 3,595,973

23 @coldplay 8,124,510 24/39/37 3,006,069

24 @LilTunechi 8,070,615 20/39/41 3,308,952

25. @ashleytisdale 7,821,316 20/49/31 2,424,608

26 @mariahcarey 7,779,008 20/50/30 2,333,702

27 @iamdiddy 7,762,054  68/17/15 1,164,308

28 @ryanseacrest 7,665,620 23/44/33 2,529,655

29 @realwizkhalifa 7,315,038 15/34/51 3,730,669

30. @ivetesangalo 6,924,679 40/44/16 1,107,949

Re-ranked according to active followers, below. I simply re-ordered the above lost and did not ad in new names. It seems pretty clear that, if I had, @iamdiddy and @ivetesangalo would have dropped way out of the top 30. 

1. @ladygaga 28,746,622 31/40/29 8,336,520

2 @justinbieber 27,079,044 30/40/30 8,123,713

3 @rihanna 24,729,010 34/41/25 6,182,253

4 @katyperry 25,547,332 37/41/22 5,620,413

5 @taylorswift13 17,816,750 30/40/30 5,345,025

6 @NICKIMINAJ 14,288,380 27/39/34 4,858,049

7 @britneyspears 19,756,556 35/41/24 4,741,573

8 @Eminem 12,147,434 25/40/35 4,251,602

9 @chrisbrown 11,149,421 23/40/37 4,125,286

10 @selenagomez 12,444,492 23/44/33 4,106,682

11 @brunomars 11,587,419 21/34/35 4,055,597

12 @drake 8,742,968 18/36/46 4,021,765

13 @realwizkhalifa 7,315,038 15/34/51 3,730,669

14 @kanyewest 8,370,313 19/37/44 3,682,938

15 @jtimberlake 13,469,724 29/44/27 3,636,825

16 @mileycyrus 8,172,665 24/37/39 3,595,973

17 @LilTunechi 8,070,615 20/39/41 3,308,952

18 @snoopdogg 9,995,045 30/38/32 3,198,414

19 @coldplay 8,124,510 24/39/37 3,006,069

20 @pink 10,274,075 28/43/29 2,979,482

21 @shakira 17,967,289 43/31/16 2,874,766

22 @ddlovato 8,865,041 31/37/32 2,836,813

23 @officialadele 8,981,924 27/42/31 2,784,396

24 @jlo 10,673,100 32/44/24 2,561,544

25 @ryanseacrest 7,665,620 23/44/33 2,529,655

26 @ashleytisdale 7,821,316 20/49/31 2,424,608

27 @aliciakeys 9,108,223 29/45/26 2,368,138

28 @mariahcarey 7,779,008 20/50/30 2,333,702

29 @iamdiddy 7,762,054  68/17/15 1,164,308

30 @ivetesangalo 6,924,679 40/44/16 1,107,949

  1. marathonpacks reblogged this from billwerde and added:
    Billboard’s Bill Werde does some Twitter follower math for pop stars, aka the finding dead dudes on voter rolls of...
  2. katherinestasaph reblogged this from thediscography and added:
    This is what inevitably happens when people make huge deals about Twitter milestones.
  3. thediscography reblogged this from billwerde and added:
    Worth looking at in full.
  4. karenlieberman reblogged this from billwerde and added:
    hopeful that people will continue to realize that follower and like counts are not where it’s at.
  5. andyhutchins reblogged this from billwerde and added:
    This is interesting analysis, but all of these things would be better served by noting that the follower analyses are...
  6. themusicpimp reblogged this from billwerde and added:
    El 16% de los seguidores de Shakira en...es real. El 20% de los de Gaga es real.
  7. billwerde posted this