Significance and popularity in music production
Creative industries constantly strive for fame and popularity. Though highly desirable, popularity is not the only achievement artistic creations might ever acquire. Leaving a longstanding mark in the global production and influencing future works is an even more important achievement, usually acknowledged by experts and scholars. ‘Significant’ or ‘influential’ works are not always well known to the public or have sometimes been long forgotten by the vast majority.
In this paper, we focus on the duality between what is successful and what is significant in the musical context. To this end, we consider a user-generated set of tags collected through an online music platform, whose evolving co-occurrence network mirrors the growing conceptual space underlying music production. We define a set of general metrics aiming at characterizing music albums throughout history, and their relationships with the overall musical production. We show how these metrics allow to classify albums according to their current popularity or their belonging to expert-made lists of important albums. In this way, we provide the scientific community and the public at large with quantitative tools to tell apart popular albums from culturally or aesthetically relevant artworks. The generality of the methodology presented here lends itself to be used in all those fields where innovation and creativity are in play.