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On-Chart Success Dynamics of Popular Songs

Seungkyu Shin, Juyong Park

posted on 02 May 2017

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In the modern era where highly-commodified cultural products compete heavily for mass consumption, finding the principles behind the complex process of how successful, "hit" products emerge remains a vital scientific goal that requires an interdisciplinary approach. Here we present a framework for tracing the cycle of prosperity-and-decline of a product to find insights into influential and potent factors that determine its success. As a rapid, high-throughput indicator of the preference of the public, popularity charts have emerged as a useful information source for finding the market performance patterns of products over time, which we call the on-chart life trajectories that show how the products enter the chart, fare inside it, and eventually exit from it. We propose quantitative parameters to characterise a life trajectory, and analyse a large-scale data set of nearly 7,000 songs from Gaon Chart, a major weekly Korean Pop (K-Pop) chart that cover a span of six years. We find that a significant role is played by non-musical extrinsic factors such as the might of production companies and possibly established fan base in the on-chart success of songs, strongly indicative of the commodified nature of modern cultural products. We also discuss several nontrivial yet intriguing trajectories that we call the "Late Bloomers" and the "Re-entrants" that appears to be strongly driven by serendipitous exposure on mass media and the changes of seasons.