Posts Tagged years active

Artists that called it a day in 2011

It is that time of year when music critics make their year-in-review lists: best albums, worst albums, best new artists and so on.   To help critics with their year-end review, I’ve put together a list of the top artists that stopped performing in 2011 – due to retirement, breaking up or due to death.

I made this list using by calling Echo Nest artist search call, limiting the results to artists with an ending year of 2011.  Here’s the salient bit of python:

           results =, artist_end_year_before=2012,
                             buckets=['urls', 'years_active'], sort='hotttnesss-desc')

You can see the list of the 3,300 or so artists that stopped performing in 2011 here: Artists that called it a day in 2011. Thanks to Matt Santiago, master of data quality at The Echo Nest, for coming up with the idea for the list.

In the same vein, I created a list of the top 100 artists (based upon Echo Nest hotttnesss) that became active or released their first recording in 2011.

Check this list out at: Top New Artists for 2011

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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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