The Power of Fans: Charting the Canadian Music Industry Online

Created by: Kat Thornley

It’s no secret that online music streaming has been changing the game for Canadian artists, and with even more avenues for artists to self-release, self-manage, and self-promote, you can't ignore the impact services like Spotify and Apple Music have been having on the way us listeners get our daily music fix. While listeners can simply hit shuffle on Spotify's Discover Weekly Playlists, artists can reach wider audiences and theoretically “make it big” from streaming without having to hit the pavement and sell CDs at their local house shows. But if we want to truly understand the way online streaming actually affects artists beyond what is advertised to us, we have to start asking the right questions and poking around in some data.

Over the course of the 2021-2022 academic year, I worked under Dr. Jada Watson's supervision to study the effects of online music streaming on the Canadian music industry through a digital humanities lens. The final study, "Charting the Canadian Music Industry Online: A data-driven approach to understanding the impact of fan-curated playlists on Canadian artists" explores Spotify artist data extracted from Chartmetric (a streaming and social data aggregator). The findings in this project draw attention to several areas related to who dominates the Canadian streaming market, who is underrepresented in our data, and what areas need further investigation. You’ll get a chance to play with some data on a larger scale, then look beyond the numbers using case studies to gain a better understanding of the voices this data represents. The study links to outside sources, detail methods of collection and analysis, and provide a data feminist perspective through prompts and inquiries for each graph.

Visit the project website and learn more about how streaming is impacting the Canadian music industry landscape!