Predicting streaming and sales performance of every one of Justin Timberlake's singles
FORECASTING STREAMING AND SALES PERFORMANCE
In our last blog post, we revealed how accurately our algorithm was able to predict streaming and sales performance of a billion dollars-worth of tracks from their audio signature alone. Zooming in on those predictions revealed that we were also pretty successful at the album level. But what about something in between — say, a decade and a half's-worth of singles released by one of the world's biggest superstars? In today's post, we apply our performance-forecasting algorithm to all singles released by man of the woods himself, Justin Timberlake.
Over the course of his 16-year solo career, Timberlake has lifted 17 singles from his four studio albums prior to his recently released Man Of The Woods, plus another rather successful number from a certain movie soundtrack (more of that in a moment). So which of these does our music-focused algorithm say were likely to have been his biggest hits? And how do our predictions compare with each track's actual performance?
PREDICTING SALES AND STREAMING PERFORMANCE OF JUSTIN TIMBERLAKE'S SINGLE OUTPUT
As usual, we analysed nothing more than each track's audio signature, using our algorithm to predict from this alone the combined total of Spotify streams, YouTube streams, and single sales each was likely to have amassed. When we compared our predictions with actual streaming and sales performance, we found our algorithm performed with 78% accuracy, with our predictions closely matching actual performance of most tracks. What's more, when we then classified each track into bands of 5 M total points (Spotify streams + YouTube streams + single sales), our prediction accuracy rose to 83%.
And remember, these predictions are derived entirely from an analysis of the songs themselves. We have no knowledge concerning the extent to which each track was promoted, we've not examined potential effects of any of his music videos, we're not concerned with potential influence of any featured artists, and we have no knowledge concerning related social media activity or other extra-musical factors.
We're 100% focused on the music. And considering the many factors generally thought to affect how successful a song becomes, that so much of that success can be traced back to the songs themselves is both quite remarkable and, from a creative point of view, immensely encouraging.
INFLUENCE OF PROMOTION ON AN ALREADY HIT-WORTHY SONG
So what about Can't Stop The Feeling!, Timberlake's infectious song from the Trolls soundtrack? It turns out this is a great example of how substantial promotion can lift an already hit-worthy song higher. For example, not only was CSTF! attached to the Trolls movie, it was also, among other things, introduced and performed live for the first time in front of a TV audience of 200+ million during the 2016Eurovision Song Contest.
Our HIT POTENTIAL score for CSTF! was a healthy 71% (measured on a scale from 0 to 100), and we predicted it would amass in excess of 13 million in streaming and sales (Spotify and YouTube streams + single sales). Actual performance was several million North of that, beautifully demonstrating how capitalising on an already great song can pay serious dividends.
HIT POTENTIAL? WHAT'S THAT?
Hyperlive's measure of HIT POTENTIAL is the probability that a song will be a hit if released as a single and supported by a marketing and promotion campaign typical of the artist in question. After all, it doesn’t matter how good a song is if nobody hears it. Expressed on a scale from 0 to 100, a value of 0 equals a certain non-hit, while a value of 100 means a certain hit.
This level of prediction fidelity provides a solid foundation upon which to base decisions such as which songs to include on an album, which to release as singles, and how to optimise allocation of marketing and promotion resources. Think of it this way, a song with a predicted HIT POTENTIAL of, say, 20% is very unlikely to be a hit no matter how much money is thrown at it. A song with a predicted HIT POTENTIAL of, say, 80% is very likely to soar like an eagle if backed by a campaign of appropriate magnitude.
And to answer the obvious question, yes, we've already calculated the HIT POTENTIAL of every track on Timberlake's latest album, Man Of The Woods. Curious to know which track received the highest score?
About Hyperlive. Music isn’t something we just listen to — music is something we experience with our heart and soul. Hyperlive captures this experience by modelling a range of neurobiobehavioural responses to music as well as the psychological processes that underpin them. This gives us a deep understanding of what drives musical engagement on a fundamental level, allowing us to quantify, model and predict that engagement — and the musical features that motivate it — with unmatched levels of precision.