A NEW STUDY OF SONGS ON THE BILLBOARD HOT 100 CHART BETWEEN 1996 AND 2018 SHOWS THAT SONGS WITH A FEATURED ARTIST ARE MORE LIKELY TO ENTER THE TOP 10. AND THE LIKELIHOOD INCREASES WITH AN INCREASE IN DIFFERENCE IN GENRE BETWEEN THE ARTISTS (ROCK WITH RB, RAP WITH COUNTRY)
In 2018, the song Girls Like You
by Maroon 5 featuring Cardi B stayed top of the US chart for 7 weeks whilst in the UK One Kiss
by Calvin Harris featuring Dua Lipa was one of the top selling singles, with 8 weeks at n.1. Other top songs with featuring credits reaching no. 1 in the US included Havana
by Camila Cabello ft. Young Thug and Psycho
by Post Malone ft Ty Dolla $ign. So are such combinations the key to a top 10 hit?
According to a new study they are -
and the greater the difference between genres of the artists, the more likely the song is to reach the top of the charts.
The ‘Featuring’ Phenomenon in Music: How Combining Artists of Different Genres Increases a Song’s Popularity
is a study conducted by Andrea Ordanini (Bocconi University) with Joseph C. Nunes (University of Southern California) and Anastasia Nanni (PhD student, Bocconi University). It was recently published in Marketing Letters
. The authors looked at data from Billboard’s Hot 100 chart between 1996 and 2018, including all the 1909 songs with a featured artist that appeared in that period. Their likelihood of entering the top 10 is 18.4%, significantly greater
than the 13.9% likelihood for songs that do not include a featured artist.
“And as genre distance (cultural difference) between host artist and guest increases, the likelihood of reaching the top 10 increases
, albeit at a decreasing rate”, professor Ordanini says. “By combining the expertise of specialists in each genre, as well as comingling audiences while still maintain each collaborator’s original positioning, artists who feature artists from other genres are able to produce more successful songs.”
Featuring is one of the biggest phenomena in pop music. It appeared in the 1980s in the context of the hip-hop culture. It boomed in the mid-1990s. In 1996, little over 20 songs with featuring credits appeared on the Hot 100. In 2017, they were 150. Professor Ordanini has studied the phenomenon in the light of academic literature on co-branding, in particular of the stream of research that looks at ingredient branding in which one attribute of one brand is incorporated into another brand. “Under certain conditions, consumers rate co-branded products more positively than either individual brand”, he says.
Featuring is an innovative practice. It owes its success to the ability to broaden the audience bringing together fans of both artists and omnivorous listeners. “Some 83% of songs with featuring credits since 1996 are a one-off combination of artists”, professor Ordanini notes. “This allows artists to maintain their original positioning and to avoid the risk to dilute their brand”. The success of a featuring song does not depend on past popularity of the host, which indeed can use the collaboration with a younger guest to update his image. In order for a featuring to be successful, the authors notes, artists must be careful to highlight the innovative and the non-permanent nature of the collaboration.