Sunday, 13 August 2017

A West Midlands YouTube chart - August 2017

New players? Yup. And Leshurr crushes it again.

This post covers a Radio to Go fixture: The Summer 2017 Chart for local acts' YouTube views. 

Up until last year I did this every six months. Workload and illness put a stop to that in February, but I'm back now.

House compilation rules are:
  • The chart displays acts that are local to, or who have come the West Midlands
  • Videos must be three years old or less
  • The two most viewed videos go into the reckoning
  • The numbers can change. One in particular is going up by tens of thousands a day right now, because it's so new: Lotto Boyz' Birmingham (Anthem). By the time you read this the numbers will probably need revising afresh. But by definition all totals will be out of date by the time I publish this. 
  • Official videos preferred where possible: no wobbly smartphone live stuff.
  • I do make mistakes. I miss things; please so sing out if you spot something amiss and I will it fix.
  • Totals were checked early this past week.
So here's the chart, and I have a lengthy commentary afterwards. There's a LOT to digest.

Artists Vid 1 Vid 2 Total
Lady Leshurr Queens Speech 5 Queens Speech 4 67213030
Jacob Banks Worthy Love Me (with Wide Awake) 11810818
Jorja Smith Where Did I go? Blue Lights 5608426
Laura Mvula Overcome Phenomenal Woman 3262702
Lotto Boyz Birmingham (Anthem) ft JayKae Bad Gyal 3010731
Editors Life Is A Fear Ocean Of Night 2722388
Oceans Ate Alaska Vultures and Sharks Escapist 1842741
Mahalia We The Generation (With Rudimental) I Remember 1558944
Robert Plant Rainbow Turn It Up 985199
Tom Aspaul Better By Your Side (with Aeble) Do It Well (with Xyconstant) 833986

Claire Maguire Elizabeth Taylor Don't Mess Me Around 742472
Napalm Death How The Years Condemn Smash A Single Digit 647834
Tempa Gimme Respect Road rage 582753
Peace Gen Strange World Pleasure 576992
Tantskii Storyteller Storyteller pt 3 555374
Broken Witt Rebels Guns Georgia Pine 526214
Anaal Nakraath Idol We Will Fucking Kill You 348293
Call Me Unique Time To Love
Superfood Mood Bomb You Can Believe 274546
Ekkah Last Chance To Dance Small Talk 259050

Electric Swing Circus Mamacita Empires 220919
Swim Deep Namaste One Great Song And I Could Change The World 217659
Goldie I Adore You Prism 215673
Dapz On The Map Oh My Days Shinobi Pt1 209955
Dexys Both Sides Now Carrickfergus 194183
Stone Foundation Your Balloon Is Rising Beverley 159233
The Enemy It's Automatic Don't Let Nothing get in the way 125871
Beverley Knight Middle Of Love Marvellous Party 123927
Slick Don BRAP Feds 112523
Scott Matthews Elusive Let's Get You Home 104890

Jaws Right in Front Of Me What We Haven't Got Yet 90458
Magnum Crazy Old Mothers
Laurence Jones Got No Place To Go Touch Your Moonlight 74527
Jump The Shark Robot Song There's Always One 64292
God Damn Dead To Me Shoe Prints In The Dust 57479
The Twang New Love On The 24th 51672
Answer Back She's into Rock'n'Roll You've Got Me 49660
Rebecca Downes Believe Messed Up 49637
Harry and The Howlers Hell In High Heels
Truemendous OTYL L.I.S.P. 39314

The Wonder Stuff For The Broken Hearted Don't You Ever 33789
Lion Art and Friendly Fire  Run Away
The Assist Love Tell Her How You Feel 29738
Ed Geater Steady Strides (Enigma Dubz mix) Don't Think 26854
Dissident Prophet Human 2.0 Writing on the wall 24254
Tayla Call Me Danger Coming Back Around 24146
Johnny Foreigner If you can't be honest be awesome Le Schwing 23880
Cantaloop Dig It
Kioko Tired of Lying Deadly Roots 23103
Victories At Sea Bloom Up 21857

Some conclusions? Just a few

This chart raises almost as many questions as it answers. There are big changes. New tech has barged in and upset the applecart - again. It also shows how videos are consumed, with massive impacts on this chart.

We're looking at two universes. I'm really not sure if the same measurement criteria apply: one sector racks up numbers far, far in excess of other genres, and in many cases these do not chime with Spotify numbers or sales patterns.

So it's a different game, again. We've always had record company 'assisted' numbers - that's just an extension of chart-fiddling practises from last century, and I'm pretty sure that's always affected this chart at the top end. But there's more going on. As usual, the new stuff comes out of left-field.

Brum Grime - the BIG new factor

First it was underground. Now it's in the open, with truly startling numbers. Brum Grime is huge. Interestingly, Walsall's favourite son Goldie, now doing different things, places below the current hot male acts (JayKae, Dapz, etc), who have racked up sensational viewing figures.

Towering above everyone is Lady Leshurr, whose two most-viewed videos do better than the rest of the chart put together. Interestingly, her recent Queens Speech videos are made in bright sunshine or with well-lit backgrounds, and they use lots of cute post-production. They do better than her newer, darker, but still successful Unleshed series.

Leshurr hasn't stopped growing her numbers, unlike some of the mega acts that have preceded her at the top of the chart. Her already vast totals show a 40% leap up from last year. I strongly suspect that the vast majority of her viewers are female, in sharp contrast to her less successful male counterparts. There's a couple of reasons for this.

So who is looking at what? And where?

I do think the numbers need to be taken with some caution - Grime videos, especially from blokes (the overwhelming majority of videos, if not by viewing numbers), might just be made for smartphone consumption. It's certainly statement music. The only time I hear Grime, unless I tune in to 1Xtra or something more specialised still, is on smartphones played by spotty white boys on the bus or the train. I also hear it from amped up sound systems in muscle cars. So, yes, it's on the radio and online, but essentially it's underground... just with massive numbers.

There may be, too, a different consumption pattern to that of conventional music videos. The density of Grime lyrics makes for repeated visits; that's generally not the case with 'straight' music videos. A Grime video is an end in itself; a straight music video is normally a sales tool, made to sell a record.

Boys are still boys (sigh)

Interestingly, Grime shares values with old school Metal: Leshurr apart, it's largely young men with attitude protesting an unfair world. Sometimes those protests are entirely justified. But often our boy is just bragging, or even lecturing, with his heavy mates, all blokes, all on the bad side of town, or looming from a muscle car with blackout windows. Where women are present, they tend to be adoring girlie types wiggling in the background. Oh dear.

Fine, if that's what you want, and a lot of people do. Me, I've seen all that just a few too many times, in Grime and elsewhere. Hard Rock used to be a particularly fertile ground. 

Elsewhere? Not good news

Meantime, over in video-as-promotional-tool territory, things are rough. You can knock up a video on an iPhone, and many people do - it works great where the groove or the rhymes are the heart of the project.

But that doesn't quite work for rock, folk, jazz, dance or indie. The past five years or so have seen less new videos being produced by acts at the lower end of the chart. Those videos cost, and times are tighter than ever. And there seems to be a slackening off of viewing figures for Indie and Rock; some big names are sliding down, or have even slid off this chart. Take a look at last year's chart for a comparison. And on the more current front, some of our hottest and mo
st tipped new Indie outfits, who didn't make the chart, are scoring numbers that are, frankly, embarrassing.

Winners? Look at the astonishing Male/Female splits. 

Take a bow, Lady Leshurr, Jacob Banks, Jorja Smith, Mahalia, Lotto Boyz, Tempa and a few others... Lower down, I'm delighted to see some pals like Harry and the Howlers, Ed Geater and the (big-time) return of Electric Swing Circus making inroads. 

But take a bow, women artists: it's not just Leshurr's contribution that makes the views by gender split so interesting.

In this list we have 14 female or female-fronted acts, 36 male or male-fronted. 
Now look at these totals:

Views for Female acts 79,517,768
Views for Male acts  25,983,582

Average for Female  5,678,941
Without Leshurr 946,518

Average for Male 72,766

So, while the field is still dominated by blokes numerically, the reactions to their work is dwarfed by reactions to Female or Female-fronted videos. Even when you strip out Leshurr's extraordinary numbers, which you really should not. Lessons to be learned, maybe? 

The improvers

You want more? Big improvers on last year are shown in these two breakout charts, sorted by percentage and numerical increases respectively.

Artists % difference
Artists Difference
Electric Swing Circus 1294.07
Lady Leshurr 20,012,294
Jorja Smith 605.24
Jacob Banks 7,205,217
Laurence Jones 183.34
Jorja Smith 4,813,180
Jacob Banks 156.44
Lotto Boyz 3,010,731
Claire Maguire 113.93
Laura Mvula 1,465,363
Dexys 101.48
Mahalia 663,679
Beverley Knight 90.03
Tempa 582,753
Stone Foundation 81.65
Claire Maguire 395,405
Laura Mvula 81.53
Goldie 215,673
Mahalia 74.13
Dapz on the Map 209,955

So that's it. Lots to glean from a chart, which, while imperfect, still has trends to digest. I wrote over a year ago about the rise of female artists in the region. It's still going on. 

And if I missed you out, holler. 

More music business posts on Radio To Go


I still do stuff on Brum Radio, a volunteer-run internet station. It's online heredownload the Brum Radio app here. My Brum Radio page is here; scroll down for all the shows. 


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