Heavy metal has the most loyal fanbase


Streaming music service Spotify recently crunched data on its users to determine which fans are the most loyal. Specifically, it looked for users who went back to their favorites over time. The results might astonish outsiders:

To find out, we first identified the “core” artists that, according to The Echo Nest (a part of Spotify), are most central to each genre, starting with the big ones, on a global level. Then we did the same thing with local genres in various countries around the world. To create a measure of genre loyalty, we divided the number of streams each core artist had by their number of listeners. All of the charts are normalized against the genre with the loyalest fans.

The first thing we noticed: Metal fans are the world’s loyalest listeners (we’ll get to the individual countries soon):

To metal fans, however, this is not surprising. Metal has a quality-focused worldview that is also highly internally competitive, and as such it is “winner take all”: bands acknowledged as better than the rest are upheld as highly desired, and everything else fades into the background much like the rest of society to a metalhead. The point is that novelty and personableness take a back-seat to musical power, because metal is music that worships power as a means of making the ugly into the beautiful, and so the quality bands once discovered remain favorites.

Spotify also noted something else:

This doesn’t necessarily mean Metal is “better” than Jazz (metalheads would disagree), but it does tell us that Metal fans are in fact the most hardcore, according to this new measure of genre loyalty.

Metal fans are the most hardcore because to them, the music is not an expression of self but of truth. A metal fan seeks music with power and that can only occur through ability, whether musical or artistic, and so music that is merely friendly or sociable does not meet this standard.

As we watch yet another wave of rock assimilationists assault metal and try to re-form it in the image of rock music with metal “flavoring” or surface touches, it becomes clear why metal is desirable: the audience is highly desirable because their esteem is not lightly given and will last for decades. This challenges rock, which is based in personal music with a high degree of novelty or a message with which the listener agrees. Metal undoes all of that; in metal, the message is in the music and the personal value is in finding the best, which is why metal remains an outlier in the music market.

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11 thoughts on “Heavy metal has the most loyal fanbase”

  1. Dstrgfvdf says:

    Classical at second to last place, though? Surely classical is mostly better and more enduring than metal.

    Hip-hop is also strangely high, for being the most flippant, fad-based genre.

    1. 4th Type says:

      Keep in mind that these numbers come from a single music streaming service that has only been around for a few years at most. I listen to classical but wouldn’t listen from a streaming service (in shit quality) while I’m busy doing other things (since most people stream background music).

      1. Anthony says:

        I’m guessing the metric they used for calculating loyalty had something to do with artist names. Your typical metalhead would continuously go back to Black Sabbath, Slayer, et al whereas your average hip hop fan would jump all around to different flavors of the week. This shows that the metal fan is more loyal to a core set of artists.

        The problem with classical in this case is that not all Bruckner is tagged with Bruckner as the artist. You could be the most loyal Bruckner fan out there, but your artist list wouldn’t reflect that. It’d be all Herbert von Karajan and the BPO, Claudio Abbado and the blah blah philharmonic, Karl Bohm and the whatever, Bernstein…

        1. The problem with classical in this case is that not all Bruckner is tagged with Bruckner as the artist.

          Good point. Most classical is tagged by performer not composer.

    2. ODB says:

      Better, maybe. Enduring? Not to metal fans. While we acknowledge the tenuous connection to Western classical, heavy metal is its own entity and needs no external affiliation to validate itself.

      1. Orogenesis says:

        “heavy metal is its own entity and needs no external affiliation to validate itself.”

        That’s how it is, man, well said!

      2. hypocrite says:


    3. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

      Hip-Hop is high because hardcore fans have a sense of unwavering endearment to their classics (Nas, Wu-Tang, A Tribe Called Quest) and it’s still one of the most popular forms of music.
      That and the hardcore fans are pretty elitist.

  2. dick and ball torture says:

    Underground hip hop fans are serious about their music. I don’t enjoy it, but the people that are into it are very much into it.

    Maybe the classical low score has to do with people listening to multiple performances of the same composer and how Spotify categorizes their classical (recording artist, composer, conductor) – organization of classical music in digital format can get a little murky sometimes.

    1. I blew my head off like Per Ohlin says:

      It employs elitism as a means of quality control, so I’d say they’re as serious as metalheads.

  3. bighatfbw says:

    “In another time, another culture, this man would have been a seer, a shaman priest. In our world he’s a shoe salesman, and lives in the shadows.” – Special Agent Dale Cooper.

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