Can live music events generate complex contagion in music streaming? This paper finds evidence in the affirmative, but only for the most popular artists. We generate a novel dataset from Last.fm, a music tracking website, to analyse the listenership history of 1.3 million users over a two-month time horizon. We use daily play counts along with event attendance data to run a regression discontinuity analysis in order to show the causal impact of concert attendance on music listenership among attendees and their friends network. First, we show that attending a music artist’s live concert increases that artist’s listenership among the attendees of the concert by approximately 1 song per day per attendee (p-value<0.001). Moreover, we show that this effect is contagious and can spread to users who did not attend the event. However, the extent of contagion depends on the type of artist. We only observe contagious increases in listenership for well-established, popular artists (.06 more daily plays per friend of an attendee [p<0.001]), while the effect is absent for emerging stars. We also show that the contagion effect size increases monotonically with the number of friends who have attended the live event.
Social Complex Contagion in Music Listenership: A Natural Experiment with 1.3 Million Participants
John Ternovski, Taha Yasseri