Visualizing the active years of popular artists

This week the Echo Nest is extending the data returned for an artist to include the active years for an artist.  For thousands of artists you will be able to retrieve the starting and ending date for an artists career. This may include multiple ranges as groups split and get back together for that last reunion tour.  Over the weekend, I spent a few hours playing with the data and built a web-based visualization that shows you the active years for the top 1000 or so hotttest artists.

The visualization shows the artists in order of their starting year. You can see the relatively short careers of artists like Robert Johnson and Sam Cooke, and the extremely long careers of artists like The Blind Boys of Alabama and Ennio Morricone.   The color of an artist’s range bar is proportional to the artist’s hotttnesss.  The hotter the artist, the redder the bar.  Thanks to 7Digital, you can listen to a sample of the artist by clicking on the artist. To create the visualization I used Mike Bostock’s awesome D3.js (Data Driven Documents) library.

It is fun to look at some years active stats for the top 1000 hotttest artists:

  • Average artist career length:  17 years
  • Percentage of top artists that are still active:  92%
  • Longest artist career:  The Blind Boys of Alabama – 73 Years and still going
  • Gone but not forgotten – Robert Johnson – Hasn’t recorded since 1938 but still in the top 1,000
  • Shortest Career – Joy Division – Less than 4 Years of Joy
  • Longest Hiatus – The Cars – 22 years – split in 1988, but gave us just what we needed when they got back together in 2010
  • Can’t live with’em, can’t live without ’em  – Simon and Garfunkel – paired up 9 separate times
  • Newest artist in the top 1000 – Birdy – First single released in March 2011

Check out the visualization here:   Active years for the top 1000 hotttest artists  and read more about the years-active support on the Echo Nest blog

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  1. #1 by brian on June 21, 2011 - 6:29 pm

    to all the echo nest employees reading the comments: god damn, congratulations

  2. #2 by larry on June 22, 2011 - 7:57 am

    interesting stuff, how do you measure hotness?

  3. #3 by mwalimu on June 30, 2011 - 4:02 pm

    I tried to look up Elton John but he’s not on the chart. An oversight? (According to Billboard magazine he was the #1 artist of the 1970s decade, and ranks #195 on the Top Artist Chart for the week ending June 26, 2011.)

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