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Quantifying the impact of homophily and influencer networks on song popularity prediction

Forecasting the popularity of new songs has become a standard practice in the music industry and provides a comparative advantage for those that do it well. Considerable efforts were put into machine learning prediction models for that purpose.

It is known that in these models, relevant predictive parameters include intrinsic lyrical and acoustic characteristics, extrinsic factors (e.g., publisher influence and support), and the previous popularity of the artists.

Much less attention was given to the social components of the spreading of song popularity. Recently, evidence for musical homophily—the tendency that people who are socially linked also share musical tastes—was reported.

Here we determine how musical homophily can be used to predict song popularity. The study is based on an extensive dataset from the last.fm online music platform from which we can extract social links between listeners and their listening patterns.

To quantify the importance of networks in the spreading of songs that eventually determines their popularity, we use musical homophily to design a predictive influence parameter and show that its inclusion in state-of-the-art machine learning models enhances predictions of song popularity.

The influence parameter improves the prediction precision (TP/(TP + FP)) by about 50% from 0.14 to 0.21, indicating that the social component in the spreading of music plays at least as significant a role as the artist’s popularity or the impact of the genre.


N. Reisz, V.D.P. Servedio, S. Thurner, Quantifying the impact of homophily and influencer networks on song popularity prediction, Scientific Reports 14 (2024) 8929.

Niklas Reisz © Verena Ahne

Niklas Reisz

Vito D. P. Servedio

Stefan Thurner @ Franziska Liehl, President of the Complexity Science Hub

Stefan Thurner

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