Who are the deepest artists?

Our playlists our filled with One Hit Wonders like My Sharona, Tainted Love and Final Countdown. One Hit wonders are the non-nutritious food of the music world – they are Twinkie’s, the Ho Hos and the Yodels of our musical diet.  But what should we listen to when we want a full and nutritious musical meal?  We should look for music by artists that have deeper catalogs – artists where the fans spend substantial time listening to the non-hits. These are the Deep Artists, the opposite of the One Hit Wonders – the artists that you can spend months or years listening to and exploring their collection.

Unfortunately, there’s no master list of Deep Artists – but I have lots of music listener data, so I figured I could build one.  Here’s what I did. First I restricted my results to somewhat familiar artists with at least 100 songs in their catalog. I then scored each artist by the percentage of song plays that occur in the deep catalog versus the total plays for the artist – where deep catalog means a song that is not in the top ten for that artist.  This gives each artist a Deepness Score that I could then use to sort artists to give us a list of the Deepest Artists.  Here are the top ten:

The Deepest Artists 2013-11-24 10-12-18

Click for the full list

Not surprising to see Johann Sebastian Bach at number two. Bach has no real ‘hits’ – and indeed has an incredibly deep catalog. 90% of all Bach plays occur in Bach’s non-top 10.  The number one deep artist is Vitamin String Quartet – they have 3500 covers of songs with no clear hits among them.

Looking at the full list we see jam bands like Phish and Grateful Dead, AOR staples like Pink Floyd and David Bowie.

I’ve built a list of a little over 500 of the Deepest Artists. These are artists that have a deepness score of 50% or greater – meaning that at least 50% of all listens for the artist is in the deeper cuts.  This Thanksgiving if you are looking for some more nutritious music, stay away from Alice’s Restaurant and other One Hit Wonders and listen to music by artists on this Deep Artists list.

Update: Glenn looked at these results and felt that a nutritious music meal shouldn’t include Vitamin String Quartet (it’s the ‘artificially-fortified sugar-coated cereal of music’ according to Glenn), so Glenn took a different approach with different results. Glenn calls his results boring, but I think they are quite interesting. Read his post: Good  Boring results

  1. #1 by Paul on November 25, 2013 - 6:27 am

    Glee Cast and WolfGang are my favorites, glad to see them in the top 10.

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