Tanzania’s Cheap Mobile Data Doesn’t Boost Artists’ Popularity
Tanzania is a country of music lovers as well as the home of the cheapest mobile data bundles in Africa. These two facts have been attributed as the main reason for the popularity of Tanzanian music on YouTube. To understand the correlation between the cost of mobile data bundles and in-country artist popularity, we plot the average cost of 1 GB in African countries and the cumulative views on YouTube for the top 5 music artists in the country. The diagram is shown below.
From the diagram above there’s a negative 0.5 correlation between the cost of mobile data costs in countries and the number of views on YouTube. Countries such as South Africa and Angola that have very expensive mobile data bundles also have a very low number of YouTube views for their home-groomed musician. The idea of cheap data bundles as a contributing factor to the success of Tanzanian artists is shared by social media users all over Africa.
From the visualization and the anecdotal evidence online, there seems to be a truth to the hypothesis, however, that is not the case. Let’s begin with the visualization. There are four assumptions associated with linear regression, namely;
- Linearity: The relationship between X and Y is linear
- Outliers: The data should not contain outliers
- Normality: The data should be normally distributed
- Independence: The observation is independent of each other
The analysis and visualization violate three of the four assumptions. First and foremost, a small increase/decrease in mobile data bundles doesn’t result in a similar movement of YouTube views — the relationship is non-linear (one thing does not clearly or directly follow from another). Second, the data obviously has outliers, one musician might account for most of the views in the country as is the case for Diamond Platnumz in Tanzania. Last, the data is not normally distributed because of the presence of outliers. Hence, whatever we have observed is nothing than a Spurious Correlation — when two factors appear casually related but are not.
Kevin Meenan, YouTube music trend manager undertook an analysis of popular artists in Africa and noted that ;
The vast majority of YouTube views for African artists who have crossed the 1 milllion subscriber mark — among them WizKid, Yemi Alade, Davido, Burna Boy and Naira Marley come from outside the country they are from
In the case of Burna Boy and Davido, 95% of their views are coming from outside Nigeria. In both artists, the United States drove most of the views followed by France than the United Kingdom. In the period between May 1, 2019, to May 2020, Diamond Platnumz amassed 3.6 million subscribers and 980 million views which is about 80% outside of Tanzania. Globally, Kenya drove most of the views of Diamond Platnumz followed by Tanzania and the United States says, Kevin Meenan.
Hence, the views attributed to Tanzania are essentially from other countries, Kenya which has a far more expensive mobile data cost drives the views for Tanzania. In addition, we misattributed most YouTube views to in-country persons hence most come from outside the country. Data cost doesn’t seem to contribute to popularity.