Gold Sounds: An Empirical Analysis of Popular Music From the 1960s to Today

Name: Ian Leon
Major: Economics
Minor: Statistical and Data Sciences
Advisor: Moses Luri and Edward Teather-Posadas

The music industry brings in billions of dollars per year in the United States, and the current dominance of streaming services has made it increasingly difficult for artists to get their fair share of the profit. As musical consumption has moved from the physical formats of vinyl and CDs toward digital media artists have found themselves underpaid by those controlling the distribution of their work. Past literature has suggested that musical popularity can be predicted using various musical elements that are found within songs. If musical elements can predict success on the Billboard Hot 100, the standard measure of popularity within the music industry, then artists and record companies could use this information to increase the commercial viability of their art. The theory behind this idea revolves around technological innovation, as the mediumby which consumers access music changes, their tastes will change as they have cheaper and easier access to a greater number of artists and songs. Additionally, it is increasingly viable for record labels to invest in signing popular artists as the costs of music production and distribution have moved toward 0. I hypothesize that musical elements are significant predictors of success on the Hot 100, and that the coefficients on different elements will differ based on the era of release. The empirical model uses logistic regression and a dataset of songs and their elements, collected from Spotify’s API, to test this hypothesis. The model supports my hypothesis with significant elements in all three release eras, and movement for certain coefficients across time.


Posted in Comments Enabled, Independent Study, Symposium 2023 on April 14, 2023.

One response to “Gold Sounds: An Empirical Analysis of Popular Music From the 1960s to Today”

  1. Anabelle Andersen says:

    So happy you were able to study a topic you truly feel passionate about. It’s been great to see you grow and succeed, and I’m excited to learn what’s coming next.