Until recently, it was impossible to measure the popularity of older music. Billboard charts and album sales only tell us about a song’s popularity at the time of its release.
But now we have Spotify, a buffet of all of music, new and old. Tracks with fewer plays are fading into obscurity. And those with more plays are remaining in the cultural ether.
That’s not exactly true. Record companies have data on which music sold over time, and what got radio play, but now, with Spotify and Apple Music, we have real data on which music people want to hear.
This is a fascinating page. It also highlights the age of music listeners, showing how more recent music – from the 1990s to the present – is more popular. I think this is because people who stream music are more likely to be younger.