What is the travel time of music? ⏱

We’re living in a digital world and therefore information and music travels faster than ever before. It’s never been easier to release your music and let people from all over the world listen to it. Borders seem to vanish as music can be discovered fairly easy by playlists and social/online media.

The goal for a lot of artists is to head overseas and reach other territories and continents. With this in mind and the thought of music traveling more gradually back in the day I wondered how long it would take for music to travel from the U.S. to Europe (or the other way around).

The dataset

  • Via a web scraping method I’ve managed to get the daily Spotify charts of the U.S. and several EU territories (Netherlands, Belgium, Spain, France, U.K., Sweden, Norway, Finland, Denmark, Italy and Germany). The daily charts range from January 1st until May 20th.
  • I wanted to solely focus on the largest hits and therefore I placed a filter on the chart position, including everything between a #1 to #50 position.
  • To avoid bias I’ve excluded all tracks that have been released before January 1st 2018.
  • Via Spotify’s API I retrieved all related genres of chart featured artists.

Comparing the US Spotify chart with the EU ones

The first thing I’ve looked at are the similarities between between the U.S. chart and the European charts. To do this I need to calculate the percentage of tracks that entered the U.S. chart and also managed to reach the European charts. This score differs per territory. A visualisation is shown below on how the individual territories show resemblance with the U.S.

Percentage of resemblence with U.S. Spotify chart

The countries that show the most resemblance with the U.S. are Ireland (81%) and the U.K. (78%), followed by Denmark (66%) and Norway (68%).

Territories that show a resemblance below average are Germany (36%), Finland (39%), The Netherlands (37%), France (31%), Italy (16%) and Spain (9%). Not surprisingly, some of these territories have charts where local repertoire (or non English spoken music) makes up a large amount of the chart.

Travel time from the United States to Europe

In real life it takes approximately 7 hours to reach Europe when you’re traveling from The United States, but how does that translate to music? ;-)

By looking at the date a particular track entered Spotify’s top 50 in the various European countries and comparing this to the first chart date in the U.S., we can determine if Europe is behind or leading. When we take the average of all countries and their associated tracks we can rank the territories based on overall travel time.

Combining all territories we see an average of +2.5 days. Looking at the individual territories Sweden (+0.2 days) is the quickest to catch up, followed by Norway (+0.3 days) and Denmark (+1.1 days). Territories that tend to be later to the party are France (+10.6 days) and Italy (+5.7 days).

Map showing you the average travel time per country

Does the travel time differ per genre?

I wondered if there was a difference in travel time per genre. In order for me to investigate that I had to extract all related genres from the chart featured artists. From there on I needed to group the travel times per main genre by taking the average travel time of all tracks in that particular genre group.

It turns out that Europe is leading the Latin genre (only comparing this with the U.S. of course, LatAm not included), whereas Pop has a “delay” of 1.2 days and we’re seeing a 2.3 day delay when it comes to Hip Hop.

average travel time per genre

Get your travel time for a specific track

Where I’ve made some average calculations in this post I have to say that the journey for each track or artist is different. I therefore made a simple dashboard that shows you the travel time for a particular track. A screenshot below shows you the travel times per territory for Childish Gambino’s ‘This Is America’.

You can use the drop down filter to select a single track. A link to the dashboard can be found over here.

Screenshot of ETA dashboard — showing results for Childish Gambino

Disclaimer

  • Spotify labels a lot of different genres to artists. Certain sub-genres were grouped to maintain a global overview.
  • This is just a snapshot. It’s possible that between me writing this post and you reading it a track has entered Spotify’s top 50 in a particular territory.
  • All analyses and results mentioned above are solely based on the Spotify charts for the above mentioned territories. These results may differ from territories that haven’t been included.
  • Lastly, this just covers the chart section of the Spotify platform and should not be considered as an overall representation of listening behaviour beyond the scope of Spotify charts.

Thanks for reading! If you enjoyed reading this article some 👏🏻 are appreciated.