Thursday, 30 May 2013

Visualising Now!

Love them or loathe them, it is difficult to deny that they have had some impact on the edifice of music history. The Now! That's what I call music series is celebrating its 30th year of compilations and although I wouldn't say they really reflect my music taste, I must admit I have a couple of Now... CDs and tapes lurking at the back of a cupboard somewhere.

Sometimes it seems like there is a new one being released every couple of weeks. I wondered just how frequent the release schedule had been over the years and whether releases had become more frequent. To my surprise, the numbered series settled on a fairly stable release schedule quite quickly with 3 releases most years.

Possibly the best thing about the Now... series is the opportunity it presents for discovering smaller or lesser known artists. So I thought it would be interesting to take a look at the series and see how artists were connected*.

Top spot for connections goes to Robbie, with Kylie a close second. Whilst the most prevalent artists are interesting, what intrigued me more were the threads connecting lots of different artists. Here we see the likes of Take That, U2, and Phil Collins rise through the ranks. This can be seen by their high Betweeness Centrality rank in the table below.

Part of the reason for this could well be because their careers span two somewhat distinct time periods which emerge in the network diagram below. At the top we have more contemporary artists with the likes of Rihanna, Girls Aloud and The Sugababes. Below we have Erasure, Phil Collins and The Pet Shop Boys.

There is plenty more that could be done with this data given time, and it would be really interesting to tie the findings back to sales data to add an extra layer to the idea of exposure. However without this data to hand or the time to investigate I shall have to leave it here for now.

Dan Siddle
Research Innovation Specialist

*All the numbers quoted here are based on crunching of the numbers series only with the details taken from To save time (and my sanity) I haven't collapsed all of the collaboration tracks (featuring, Vs. etc.) in the network diagram so these appear as separate artists. I have however tried to collapse artists where they have altered their name slightly or the naming convention varied on the site (e.g. “The Pussycat Dolls”, “Pussycat Dolls”). I haven't thoroughly checked each data point, so whilst the pattern should be correct the graph may not be error free. If you spot something obviously awry do let me know! I may revisit this if I get time.

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