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Top 5 Lists: 2015 "chart positions"

posted Dec 16, 2015, 8:20 PM by Scott Cooley   [ updated Dec 16, 2015, 8:45 PM ]
It's mid-December, and as we near the close of another calendar year, I thought why not take a look at the charts.  'Tis the season for year-end lists, after all.  As a few of you out there may already know, my songs and albums have been available for sale for many years now in several online stores where you can buy music.  Although I haven't appeared on the Billboard charts yet, a few of these stores list songs by popularity, presumably based on sales data.  A few years ago, I posted a similar news item here, and was totally confused by which songs sold most in which stores.  Once again, I'm baffled and cannot make any sense of it.  Why are some songs more popular in some stores than others?  Why are some of my worst songs the most popular?  Why do people consistently not purchase some of my best songs?  Why do these lists fluctuate so much?  Why is there little apparent consistency between stores? Maybe I'll find out.  I just visited some of the stores that offer these lists, took screen shots of the top 5s, then for some, I also pasted in the store logos since they didn't always publish the lists near the logos, so you'd know which store they came from.  At the end of this news post, after I've inserted the list images, I'll continue typing to try to comment on any similarities, takeaways or conclusions I may find.  Here goes...

Google Play



Apple Music / iTunes


Spotify




Rhapsody




Last.fm



iHeart Radio



Microsoft Store / XBox Music


Groove



Tidal




eMusic



Juke



Medianet





In Conclusion

Let's start with the easy count-and-sort stats that can be gathered for those making more than one appearance on multiple "charts":
  • Mackinac Island - 7
  • So Money - 4
  • Cooley's Rap - 3
  • Goin' Up To Leadville - 3
  • In My El Camino - 3
  • My Sweetheart, My Darling - 3
  • Road To Me - 3
  • What Makes The World Go 'Round - 3
  • Confess - 2
  • I Did A Bad Thing - 2
  • Into The Sunset - 2
  • Midnight On The Moon - 2
  • Morning Star - 2
Important Note:  This is NOT how many downloads each song had, but rather, how many different online music store top 5 lists the song appeared in (in mid-Dec.'15, for whatever that's worth).  One song not on the above lists at all could theoretically have out-sold all of the other songs in all stores put together from a single store, for example.  So, I'm not sure what this means, except which songs are currently at the top of these lists for a December 2015 snapshot point-in-time.  Again, these are only some of the online music stores in which you can buy my music.

Reliability:
Who knows what types of algorithms these software companies might use to generate these things.  I suspect that it's complicated when people buy an entire album more than individual songs are downloaded.  From the above list then, I might wonder which album is most popular, but I can't really tell without knowing if the song was purchased with an album or not.  Microsoft, which is temporarily called Microsoft Music, appears to be the list from their previous XBox Music, which they are in the process of discontinuing, while they've already rolled out a "renamed" music store called Groove.  Interestingly, each lists the same exact songs, only in a different order!  Some of these stores say some of the information they make available is based on information they get from third parties such as Rovi, which is a company that does those AllMusic reviews.  Others are themselves services where people send data to Last.fm for example, from other music consumption apps and devices.  There may be sharing of info involved here.  So, you never know where this list info comes from or how it's arrived at exactly.  I noticed my most recent album doesn't have many multiples yet, but that could be due to some type of aggregate comparison deal, so it makes sense when you consider it hasn't been out and discoverable for as long.  The MediaNet is more of a service as well, and their list is most popular song on each album.  Of course it's also good to keep in mind these lists do not take into account the direct physical sales of my CDs from Amazon, which fans of my music seem to prefer.

Takeaways:
Well, it's no surprise that Mackinac Island appears the most.  The name recognition factor is there, as it is with Leadville and El Camino I guess, but I know there's been some viral recommendation with that one.  Interesting to see the German fans like My Sweetheart, My Darling, as well as the entire Moon Dreams album on Juke.  So Money getting a 4 is a bit of a surprise, since I didn't think it was that great, but the catchy phrase is there, so it's understandable I suppose.  What Makes The World Go 'Round wasn't one of my favorites, especially the way I sang it so poorly, but nonetheless made it onto 3 lists.  The other 3s and 2s are all good songs, so no surprises otherwise.  However, some of my greatest songs are absent from the multi - appearance totals, like:  Shoreline Miles, Forever A Memory, I Know I Love You, Torn In Two, No Reason Flowers, Find My Way Back Home, Used To Be Good Looking, and Smitten With The Mitten, to name a few.  Although, come to think of it, Smitten is the one song I've offered for free in several online places, so that one I wouldn't expect to see at all.

Survey Still Open:
For another perspective, you can view the results (over 100 responses at last count) of my ongoing "your favorites" survey within scottcooley.com:  Responses collected so far .    Perhaps a better indicator based on pure listener opinion, this I've sent out to some select family, friends, coworkers, acquaintances and fans as an ultra-easy way to get an idea of which songs people like most.  Although I know several people have submitted the form multiple times, it's probably more trustworthy, but arguably, not totally reliable.  However, it's a little more in keeping with what people have told me about which songs of mine they liked the best.  I tend to agree with the stats for the most part, and they are a little more in line with what my own personal favorites are as well.  Admittedly, I took the survey myself a couple times (only to test the functionality).  How can you listen to all of my songs free instantly before taking the survey, you might wonder?  Free streaming from the cloud on any device is always available here:  music.scottcooley.com.  If you'd like to have your opinions shape the outcome of which songs make it on to a "best of" compilation someday, you can check the boxes of your favorites and hit a submit button if you have a quick minute or two here:  Scott Cooley "Best Of" Form

Overall, you can't please all of the people all of the time, in all of the online music stores.  I'm happy to have any popularity and make it onto any list.  Happy to have sales vs. not have sales, in any store.  Happy that some people like some of my songs at least, vs. none.  You know how it is.  It's rare to ever like every song on every album you buy.  The digital online thing hasn't changed the music business that much when you think about how you've always been able to get 45 single records, it's just that albums have always been more fun.  Thankfully, I have this small following that has steadily grown a little over the years with some return customers and a little recommendation going on, but I don't have the hassles of the travelling, performing musician.  No fame, no notability, no published critiques.  I'm pretty much opposed to reading any reviews of my music that may be out there online somewhere, so if there are some, don't let me know, unless they're overwhelmingly positive, that is.  ;-)  It's been a few years since I took a look at these "top" lists, and I'm kind of glad I did.  It doesn't take much to make me want to keep writing and recording, but it's reassuring to look back on occasion like this.