COLORS, DSCVR, and NPR: The Growth Power of YouTube Sessions for Artist Careers

In varying degrees, COLORS x STUDIOS, Vevo DSCVR, and NPR Tiny Desk YouTube sessions can help grow an artist's Spotify and Instagram followers — and ultimately, their career.

COLORS, DSCVR, and NPR: The Growth Power of YouTube Sessions for Artist Careers
Michelle Yuen
Michelle Yuen
July 30, 202015 min read
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Title GIF Image: Nao - Orbit | A COLORS SHOW

Editor’s Note: #blacklivesmatter is a constant vigil on the road toward human equality. In our small part to contribute to that, Chartmetric is spotlighting great Black artists monthly, in the context of what we normally do: nerd out on music, data, and culture.

Our first installment is through the lens of live YouTube performances, and highlighted here are many dynamic self-identified Black acts such as American artist Ari Lennox, British indie rocker Bakar, American-born British-Jamaican Celeste, American band Phony Ppl, American actor/singer Leslie Odom Jr., and Ethiopian-American singer Mereba. Also present are legendary Grammy Award winners: American R&B singer Raphael Saadiq and American producer The-Dream.

"'Black people and their contributions should be celebrated and praised all year round, because without the influence of these creatives, the atmosphere of the arts would not be what it is today — not as groovy, not as funky.'" - Phony Ppl, via Billboard (February 2020)

Enjoy Michelle & Shashank’s work below.

Written by Michelle Yuen // Data Visualization by Shashank Chaudhary

Given YouTube’s popularity as a site for music discovery and its significant impact on artist careers, the influence of its music channels on artist development merits a deeper investigation. With the world accustomed to COVID-19 as a standard part of life in 2020, YouTube as an alternative to live music assumes even greater importance.

For this exploration, we covered various 2019 uploads of R&B artists on YouTube music channels COLORS, VevoDSCVR, and NPR Music (Tiny Desk) and looked at how the performing artists’ Spotify and Instagram follower numbers developed in the weeks before and after each feature. All three platforms have featured mostly emerging acts who are at similar stages in their careers, allowing us to better isolate and compare the effects of the channels alone.

To limit for genre effects, we focused on the R&B space, as it seemed to have the most crossover across the three shows. To account for Instagram’s nature as social media, we examine the posting (or not) of the artist about their various performances, which is an ability absent on Spotify. We also realize that the small sample sets (less than 15 artists in any show) can’t prove generalizability, but by learning about the artist-level nuances, there can be useful takeaways from a career perspective.