Follower Counts

The other day we gave a friend of my son a ride from one side of Park City to the other. While I was driving, my son and his friends were chatting about the state of hip hop in Salt Lake City. Turns out another of my son’s friends met a local hip hop artist in the SLC airport earlier this week. They got to discussing this local hip hop artist. My son’s friend said “he’s very under the radar right now, he only has a couple hundred SoundCloud followers.”

Contrast that with Lorde, who emerged as an “under the radar” artist on SoundCloud a few years ago. Lorde now has almost 2.8mm followers on SoundCloud.

This phenomenon is certainly not limited to SoundCloud. Follower counts on Twitter have been a thing from the earliest days of Twitter. Subscriber counts on YouTube matter to emerging video artists. Follower counts on Wattpad matter to emerging writers.

The comment about the local hip hop artist got me thinking that for emerging artists, follower counts on the platform of choice for their media type might be the most important metric to asses the state of their career. It certainly sounded that way coming out of my son’s friend’s mouth. Under the radar means less than 1000 followers. Emerging means 1000 to 10,000 followers. Breaking out means 50,000 to 100,000 followers. More than 500,000 followers and you have arrived. More than 2.5mm followers and you are a superstar. Something like that.

Maybe follower counts are the new Billboard, Variety, etc of the entertainment and media business. It certainly seems that way.


Comments (Archived):

  1. JimHirshfield

    @FredWilson with 324,000 followers on Twitter.You’ve almost arrived, bay-bay!

    1. JoshGrot

      All Fred needs now is theme music for “A VC”

      1. fredwilson

        we have that Josh

        1. JoshGrot

          Well done.

          1. JimHirshfield

            You mean “well played”?

          2. Matt A. Myers

            He was referring to how he likes his steak cooked.

    2. fredwilson

      from twitter analytics, it seems that i am adding about 5k followers a month(100k followers, net of churn, over the past 20 months – see the attached photo)so at that rate, i will get to “arrived” in another three years

      1. JoshGrot

        I’m calling Clive Davis.

      2. Matt A. Myers

        Does Twitter do anything to remove fake account follows? I am wondering if a similar thing occurs as does on Facebook where fake bots follow un-paid for accounts to blend in.

        1. Frank Fumarola

          You can try using something like http://manageflitter.comThey have a paid account with some “spam” detection to help you figure out who to force unfollow / block. A bit (or a lot with Fred’s following) of manual work.To the point of Fred’s post it seems like it would be counter intuitive for Twitter to really care about spam / bots following people because people are defining their social media worth by their number of followers.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed, though then it perhaps been seen as dishonest. I will take a look at that service, thanks.

        2. Emily Merkle

          Bots are not fake. They are real. They are software programs. They are fake users.

      3. Richard

        You could do a more technical forecast using R and a model known as ARIMA.

        1. sigmaalgebra

          You mean autoregressive integrated moving average process? Maybe try some book by G. Box? Or for the high end stuff, try D. Brillinger at Berkeley –he was a J. Tukey student at Princeton.

        2. Cam MacRae

          You could, but what feature of that time series suggests you should?

      4. kenberger

        not so fast… you also need to account for the fact that “the goalpost gets moved” as you go along.100k followers was once for top 10 Twitter people only. Then it became 1M, then 5M, 10M, etc.

      5. William Mougayar

        how do you get “twitter analytics”? It says it’s for publishers, developers or advertisers & says you need to set-up cards to get access.

        1. dkural

          As you may know, Fred is involved with Twitter.

    3. pointsnfigures

      When Fred starts playing guitar and rapping, we will know the real reason he backed all the social media companies at USV.

  2. JimHirshfield

    So who’s tracking SoundCloud follower trends? That would be a cool music discovery tool.

      1. JimHirshfield

        Hmm, interesting social stats on musicians. It’s a B2B site, so not much else there for music lovers to dig into, AFAIK.

        1. pointsnfigures

          they came out of Chicago–Northwestern. Saw them really early prior to TechStars. Great guys, but didn’t have a business. Brad Feld writes about them in his book Do More Faster. TechStars really helped them build a real business.

    1. JimHirshfield

      I was gonna give you a freebie follow, but I couldn’t find you on Twitter….for realz.

  3. Jim Peterson

    Follower count can be vital on so many levels. It telegraphs popularity, which gets even more people interested, especially if the followers are engaged. And the follower count also aids the actual distribution of the music, product. Another interesting benefit is that it tells the person or group working on a project that they are striking a chord with the market (internal benefits).

    1. JimHirshfield

      “Strike a chord” – I like the sound of that.(see what I did there?)

      1. Matt A. Myers

        You’re singing to the choir @JimHirshfield:disqus – and on that note, these pun threads are a constant minor enjoyment.

        1. Aaron Klein

          If @JimHirshfield:disqus was a farmer, he’d be a man out standing in his field.

          1. Matt A. Myers

            You dug deep for that one didn’t you?

          2. JimHirshfield

            You sayin’ I’m a buried treasure? Or septic?

          3. JimHirshfield


          4. Aaron Klein

            You are such a hayseed.

          5. JimHirshfield

            Reaping what I sowed.

          6. Aaron Klein

            Okay, you win!

        2. JimHirshfield

          Minor enjoyment? Glad to hear it tickles your ivories.

      2. SubstrateUndertow

        You seem to be making a habit of such comments.Keep it up !

        1. JimHirshfield

          Up to 11. Thanks for amplifying.

          1. LE

            Instead of a spelling bee they should have two kids facing off against each other to see which one can retort what the other says similar to what you are doing. A verbal ping pong.

          2. JimHirshfield

            Yeah, that was life in my parents’ house growing up.

          3. LE

            Amazing how things like that influence us.In my house my dad never referred to people or places by their names.He would start a conversation saying “him” or “over there” etc. Or “I went to the store and bought it”.I had to try and piece together what he meant by triangulating bits and pieces of the sentences or remembering what he had mentioned in the past week.In the book (that I won’t write) I will talk about how this helps me in terms of making associations between people and situations that could be helpful. (I’ll add your story as well to bolster the point ..)Comedy was never appreciated in my house. No jokes no fooling around. Wasn’t until much later that I found out I had some talent in that area.

          4. JimHirshfield

            That over there was insightful, thanks.I find that what you’re referring to (ambiguity), drives me crazy. I hate ambiguity.

          5. LE

            I hate ambiguity.That’s one of the big issues I have with short form communication.I get that many times with emails from customers (or clients) that are on a tablet or a smartphone or perhaps don’t know how to type. Also with some people who comment here.So they basically “grunt” and then it’s up to me to try and divine what they want or need from a few words. Which takes me much more time because I have to allow for many more possibilities. To many “if this then that”. And I find it much more convenient and time saving to communicate by email rather than the phone.Anyway since it’s hard to blow off people that are paying you money you can’t just say “please put some fucking effort into what you want so it’s not up to me to do all the work and think of every possible thing you might be thinking”. [1]With my dad it was helpful because I developed for sure a way to read people and situations using cues other than words. This comes in handy every day and even with negotiation by email (because you learn to read all sorts of signals not just the actual words).[1] That annoyance and the fact that people are lame lazy led to the realization that I could charge for things that previously had been done for free. It works very well. People will pay if you do the thinking for them.

          6. JimHirshfield

            yeah, that.

  4. LIAD

    1 million twitter followers for $999Who’s buying?

    1. JimHirshfield

      @philipsugar:disqus see below….with your help, a star is born!!

    2. PhilipSugar

      It looks like you can buy 10,000 twitter followers for $5 so your price looks a bit high.Soundcloud is expensive or under-served. $5 only buys you 100 followers.

      1. LIAD

        Our bot followers are high class, top tier. Not the peasant bots which other providers offer. 😉

    3. Dave Pinsen

      “That girl is such a fake model /She definitely bought all her Instagram followers”#Selfie…

    4. MG

      what’s the going price for 1 million fake impressions?

      1. Emily Merkle

        After the FBI bust-up of the Russian botnet ring, bot traffic took a hit. But “fake” i.e. non-human clicks can go from 0.001/click – about 0.03/click. Impressions are far cheaper – not as sexy technology to load a page.

        1. MG

          can you buy video views too?

          1. Emily Merkle

            Yes. As long as you keep on mind it’s not a view, it’s a video player initiation. It effectively launches the preroll but time on site is poor.

          2. SpeirstheamazingHDlover

            really? i did not know that!

        2. Peter Cain

          This a bit of an eye opening video (from Veritasium – a really cool science YouTube channel), on why it is a really bad idea to have fake Facebook likes…makes you think twice about doing any paid promotion on fb thats for sure;

          1. Emily Merkle

            Great video. Yep, that’s how it works. Ultimately damaging.

    5. Bruce Warila

      Charts as a mode of discovery seem so yesterday. Money ($999) and the capacity to promote (or not) distort charts. Thus, charts are (and will be) filled with major label content. Fans and emerging artists need a magic box that can put fresh, unpromoted, ‘quality’ songs directly into the ears of receptive fans. Charts built off of social traction data can’t do this…

  5. Martin De Saulles

    Could be a good metric for aspiring independent musicians but I could see the larger music labels gaming it to push their new artists – or am I being too cynical?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Everything gets gamed until it can’t be. I imagine with the right data and the right mechanisms it would be difficult.

    2. LE

      or am I being too cynical?Your cynicism will pail against any that I have. Never a need to apologize for cynicism.People in entertainment are sharp operators. No doubt this is gamed and will be gamed.

  6. Richard

    There is something different about being a follower of a musician, you are more of an investor (a musicvc if you will). The currency is part $, part emotions. The ROI are endorphins and memories.

    1. William Mougayar

      Emotion is a bit part of engagement, no?

      1. Richard

        The term “emotionally invested” comes to mind. Whether it is discovering a band before they become famous (for me it is Rachel Yamagata) or jumping on the bandwagon, there is something different about following musicians.

  7. William Mougayar

    I would like to better understand what makes the numbers break out for these artists. How do they go from 200 to 1000 to 10000 to 50,000 + . Is it totally viral from online word of mouth?And at what speed of growth?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      If you have all of the data of the internet you can figure that out – at least partially.

    2. SubstrateUndertow

      What are the top 10 vectors of viral amplification ?Obviously- Facebook- Twitter- YouTubebut what beyond those ?

      1. Matt A. Myers

        Word of mouth, perhaps including email in that.

      2. William Mougayar

        Soundcloud , Instagram, G+But I was wondering what drives these actions. I’d like to know for e.g. How does Josh tell his friends?

  8. Emily Merkle

    And it’s all about quantity not quality/engagement.

    1. SubstrateUndertow

      Come on, in the internet age quality is for chump 🙂

      1. Emily Merkle

        Call me a traditionalist.

  9. Jan Schultink

    Like web site visitor stats, Amazon purchase stats, streaming stats could be come a big business.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      They’ll never make them available cheaply enough.

      1. Emily Merkle

        Guess again.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          They’ll make them available cheaply enough.

          1. Emily Merkle

            Almost there! There is an entire, very lucrative industry built around arbitrage to deliver bogus (insert metric here: follower / video view / page view / “like”)

          2. Matt A. Myers

            Indeed. A problem I’ve been thinking about a long time, mostly because companies like Facebook take a lot of advertisers’ money without returning adequate value. This is why Facebook’s ad revenues should be taken with a grain of salt..

          3. Emily Merkle

            Been fighting the good fight for 13 years. Very crude splash page of our latest venture to this end:

          4. Matt A. Myers

            I saw you mentioning it before. 🙂

          5. Emily Merkle

            Heh 🙂 sorry – it’s kind of all-consuming right now

          6. Matt A. Myers

            I understand. 🙂

  10. Brandon Burns

    This just gave me an amazing idea. Thanks, Fred!

    1. Richard

      Yes, turning followers into partners does seem to make sense.

      1. Matt A. Myers

        I don’t see this working in general.

        1. Brandon Burns

          I never said what the idea was. 😉

          1. Matt A. Myers

            Didn’t assume so – just responding to Rich. 🙂

          2. SubstrateUndertow

            So you are going to hold out on us are you 🙁

          3. jason wright

            it’s all about execution, so cough it up 😉

          4. Brandon Burns

            exactly. its all about execution. so its not worth talking about until its executed and there’s something to show. 🙂

          5. jason wright

            unless you want vc funding 😉

    2. LE

      I was reading the WSJ a few months ago (print edition) which I read at dinner every night usually. [1]Anyway I read an article which gave me an idea. Then I took a picture of the article with my iphone.My hunch turned out correctly and I turned it into $50,000 (actual money in the bank). When I told my wife about it a few weeks ago on date night I pulled out the photo and showed it to her. In other words how I had memorialized the spark that led to the outcome. And the fact that I had taken the photo just to show her and add color to the story (visuals are really important in story telling).Anyway, at the very least, we need some it would be nice if you gave us some clue so when you come back with success we can tie in the amazing idea to the finished product. (I’m sure Fred would appreciate that as well). Not that that is more important than the success itself but it will make a great story when they write you up in the print edition.[1] Most people write off print (as well as legacy media) but I still find it valuable to see what makes it past the filters.

      1. Brandon Burns

        It is a long game idea. Something that pobably won’t see the light of day for many months. And since we know that Fred sees my business as competitive with Etsy, I’m keeping mum.But should I ever launch said idea, I will remember to inform the AVC community!

  11. Twain Twain

    Do follower counts convert to actual purchase and downloads of the musician’s work?Billboard is about actual sales?

    1. Matt A. Myers

      I’ll buy 1,000,000 of your albums if you buy 1,000,000 of my albums. Deal? 😉

      1. ErikSchwartz

        There was a lot of that in the early days off the app store.

      2. Twain Twain

        Haha, Matt! Now…….what happens if I price my albums at $24.99 and market them as “Deluxe” whilst your album’s a standard $8.99?That’s an example of how follower counts or even actual number of albums sold doesn’t necessarily mean one musician is doing better than another.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Then you’re buying 3 million of my albums, and I’m buying a million of yours. 🙂

  12. Matt A. Myers

    Like with everything there’s a tipping point as to when change will occur or not occur. I like patterns, big patterns, and the holistic view of seeing everything that is required for a specific context or view to exist. I have become better and better at seeing what the important factors or characteristics are for a given context. I have seen this in online platforms, in musicians, and in other. When I see someone or something on the verge or nearing the tipping point of what I attribute to being enough contributing factors I start wonder why they’re not there yet. I then wonder if it is fluke they got to where they are or one strain of creativity that they followed through to a creation point. I wonder if they want to take it farther, if they have the design or know-how – or if they even have the time. From my own experience working towards the ridiculously ambitious end goals I am aiming for and hope to be able to start, and it taking a long time – I can imagine that if the right circumstances existed for a person to continue exploring and developing themselves or their ideas that we’d have a much greater amount of people who have brilliant and valuable things to offer people. If only we can solve the pain point of worrying about not enough times and monies to have the freedom to work on what we’re fully passionate about, if only we could all feel healthy enough – which includes not having a fear of survival – to allow ourselves to stay motivated long enough to accomplish anything we set our mind and ambition toward. If only we had access to more mentors, role models, teachers – if only more of us had the time and freedom to be those teachers to those seeking guidance and education or even an ear to hear us out in full. We will get there, and once the efficient systems are in place and support given towards those systems we will get there very quickly. We just need enough followers to believe in and support those new systems – I am hopeful the tipping points are near.

  13. pointsnfigures

    I never pay attention to follower counts. I follow what I think is interesting, informative, or that I like. If people follow me, I really appreciate it and am touched. I suppose in the music business it is much easier to monetize followers, since you can point them to a place of purchase. Much harder otherwise. I also find that news people are mostly dumb to follow. They use platforms like a soapbox, and won’t acknowledge other people if they have a good article. Politicians are like that too.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      It’s meaningless to a person without context and interest in that context, more so when fake followers are possible.

    2. Emily Merkle

      With you here.

  14. Mark Schoneveld

    For SoundCloud, I’ve noticed the ‘play numbers’ matter more than the ‘follower numbers’.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Engagement vs. single action.

      1. Mark Schoneveld

        which is worth more?

        1. Emily Merkle

          Depends on your business model as well as your definition and monetization of engagement and single-action.

        2. Matt A. Myers

          The higher the engagement the more single actions that are likely to occur.

      2. jason wright


  15. Elia Freedman

    Yumm! Vanity metrics!

    1. john murphy


  16. phoneranger

    Doesn’t the idea of hip hop in SLC let alone Park City strike anyone else as just a little silly?

  17. matthughes

    Real talk: under the radar isn’t easy sometimes.

  18. John

    I have two daughters young daughters who like to write stories on Fan Fiction web site. They have a number of regular followers and can get around 200 readers a day. One of them pointed out that getting feedback from your story is sometimes more fun than writing the story itself. They seemed to be hooked on it and visit the site several times daily to add new content or read and respond to reader feedback.

  19. ErikSchwartz

    It’s so easy to game follower counts that separating the signal from the background noise will be difficult.

    1. awaldstein

      I don’t think its worth the effort to really try.It’s a gross measurement and take it for what it’s worth.Instagram is a very different animal though.

  20. Guest

  21. awaldstein

    These are all one to many models and as such, followers are sentiment of popularity and mean something.It breaks to me when you put any sort of granularity on the sentiment. It’s like a vote based on which group claps loudest for their candidate.

  22. jason wright

    followers count. counts are just numbers.

  23. Guest


  24. sigmaalgebra

    So, there are some striking examples of ‘viral’ growth on SoundCloud.Since viral growth seems to be one of the more important aspects of Internet ‘social media’, etc., it might be good to use those examples to gain some insight into viral growth and what drives it.So, how the heck did the viral growth occur, that is, what drove it?For a start, let t denote time, b denote the size of the potential audience, and y(t) the size at time t as a percent of b.Assume that in some sense the growth rate y'(t) (the freshman calculus first derivative) is directly proportional to both the current size y(t) and the size of the potential audience not yet part of the growth, that is, b – y(t).Presumably we know the ‘initial value’ y(0), that is, the size of the audience at time t = 0, say, now.Then for some constant k we should havey'(t) = k y(t) ( b – y(t) )that is, an initial value problem for a first order, linear, ordinary differential equation. Yes, there is a ‘closed form’ (that is, an algebraic expression in terms of the quantities we already have) solution and is available just from simple freshman calculus integration techniques.The resulting solution y(t) grows line a lazy ‘S’ curve and rises asymptotically to the potential audience size b.We get different solutions depending on the constant k. A larger value of k causes more rapid rise to the potential audience size b.I attach a graph showing some sample curves with y(0) = 15.So, the question is, what ‘actionable’ ideas can push up the size of the constant k? Can there be ways to compare such ideas for their ROI? If there are several such ideas and all are applied together, is there a way to evaluate their ‘joint’ effect? Net, do we know what the heck we are doing trying to stimulate viral growth?So, if we believe this little bit of applied math, how might we make use of the solution to this differential equation? Consider, if we are having some viral growth and have an idea to do better, then, net, necessarily with the idea we will be just increasing the constant k. If we have a reasonably good estimate for how much we will be increasing the constant k, say, 10%, then we can see what the new growth trajectory would be and, then, find the ROI on the idea. That might be useful.Generally we could use more insight, including quantitative (i.e., like money), to plan and ‘optimize’ viral growth.Note: At one time, on a Saturday FedEx Board meeting, this differential equation and its solution got representatives of FedEx Board Member General Dynamics to say and, thus, kept FedEx from going out of business.

    1. Matt A. Myers

      Viral growth is the result from every other effort combined.

      1. sigmaalgebra

        Being able to say more than that should have some value, possibly significant in some cases.

        1. Matt A. Myers

          Potentially. It might only be valuable to so few though it’s not monetizable or perhaps they wouldn’t want to divulge how that data is monetizable. It makes me wonder too if once you spot a pattern if it’s too late because the person or people behind someone or something’s success already know what they’re doing – so why would they pay for that information? Not sure who you’d sell to. I do understand some value that could come from it – could be quite the fun experimental project to work on too.

          1. sigmaalgebra

            Yes, but that’s not at all what I had in mind.Or: (A) for much of entrepreneurship on the Internet, ‘viral’ growth is from important up to very important up to just crucial. (B) Viral growth can be so fast and valuable that it is astounding and for some of entrepreneurship, astoundingly important. (3) People interested in such entrepreneurship should understand such viral growth. (4) In understanding viral growth, we might, likely we should, approach it, should work until we can effectively approach it, quantitatively — i.e., money is quantitative.I’m not in the least interested in selling anything about viral growth. Instead, I’m just trying to understand, hopefully effectively quantitatively, viral growth. Why? I want to do better with viral growth for my project.Right, viral growth would be a topic in mathematical sociology, that is, my wife’s Ph.D., but as AVC knows well, she died.Part of what sociology can do is ‘social theory’, that is, soft, intuitive, non-scientific, non-mathematical guesses about what the heck is going on. My wife was good at such stuff; some of her girlfriends were astoundingly good at it, or, at least could effortlessly, rapidly spout off lots of such theories with a lot of ‘face validity’. Such theories are not science but maybe are a crucial seed for science, that is, something to be pursued, understood, and tested. So, we could use some intuitive social theories about viral growth. Or, right, we’re talking ‘social media’ here, right? Or we’re talking ‘social phenomena’.My software development sufficient to go live, and in some important ways more, really is rapidly coming to an end, so that coming at me like a 100 MPH freight train rolling down the Wasatch is how to pick some ‘entering wedges’ that can have good viral growth. So, I’m interested in viral growth.Now in my little differential equation, that came from assuming that (A) current users talked to (B) potential users. That potentially complicated situation boiled down to just one number, the constant k, and that should be good news. That is, whatever we do to stimulate viral growth should, at least with that equation, boil down to just k. So, we’re trying to grow k. If we do something, then the results should show in k. If we can increase k by, say, 10%, then with the solution to the equation we can find the ROI for what we did — that could be valuable in deciding what to do, i.e., what to devote viral growth marketing resources.For a start, on the ‘social theory’, we might look at how on SoundCloud, SnapChat, PInterest, Facebook, Google, etc. current users communicated to potential users. Likely some of the communications was via gossip among teenage girls, but there have to be other important communications also.Yes, ‘network effects’ will be important. And we’re talking something like the old ‘word of mouth advertising’. We need to learn from those but also need more.

  25. andrewparker

    I like thinking about your post today in the context that Tumblr does not externally publish follower counts for any tumblelogs anywhere… And that design choice ends up shaping the community that emerged at Tumblr. It’s far less celeb focused, and instead Tumblr starts of their own have emerged based on the meritocracy of publishing great content. That’s why the “fuckyeah” series of blogs worked so well there.

  26. Brett Bedevian

    One of the ways i look at startups is by how many likes on their facebook page and how many twitter followers they have. Seems to be a good metric for how big/popular they actually are

    1. Emily Merkle

      How so? In your mind, does a Like or a follower equal an engaged, revenue-generating user?

      1. Brett Bedevian

        Not exactly.. for me im looking at it as how many people know about the company and care enough to go to the page to click like. my purpose is more to judge the size and presence of a company. The more people that follow, generally the larger/more established the company is meaning more employees and larger office space.

        1. Emily Merkle

          So you equate “larger office space” with financial promise? More employees? Lean and mean is how to run. Hire well, not often.

      2. LE

        I think that’s a good question.But I think it’s probably close to a brand type halo in that the parent commenter’s brain had attached value to those counts. Doesn’t even matter why. It’s like asking someone “why do you think Harvard is important”? Why? Because my brain has been conditioned to think Harvard is important. Now if you want justification I can probably come up with it if I try.I got into a fight once with my ex girlfriend because she wanted to know exactly why I liked to eat lobster. She wasn’t satisfied with “because I just like lobster” she wanted some exact reasons in words as an answer. [1][1] I have a theory that thinking to much about things that you like is a good way to make yourself unhappy. Just go with the fact that you like it.

        1. Emily Merkle

          I like your theory. I overthink everything. But I like that. Mechanically-speaking, to “like” a FB page simply means you push a button. No engagement necessary. With Twitter, a follow gets you content pushed to you; that to me might indicate a degree of passive-to-active brand engagement. But I wonder – why follow or like or engage in social media with a startup at all? Startup being an extremely broad designation. Personally, I’d evaluate their coverage in the trades, their team, and the product/service itself, and then and only then speculate on whether the fledgling company will “pop” or not.

  27. Ryan

    The selling of fake followers will always have a market as long as this perception is around. You obviously have an empty follower base if you purchase them but it gives your brand credibility in a lot of people’s mind.Ryan,

  28. Pete Griffiths

    I think it is an important metric. And geographic data is critical. the money is in performing so data that optimizes tour planning is vital.

  29. Brad Dickason

    I used to book DJ’s in New York during Myspace’s heyday. One of the most popular club promoters would just search within ‘Electro’ by friend count and book the DJ’s with the highest number of friends. The club was incredibly successful.

  30. Matt Kandler

    Great post. IMO emerging artists are some of the best accounts to follow on Twitter, especially if you are interested in music releases and upcoming shows. Artists work hard to build meaningful audiences and engage with other artists to create a real community. I’ve seen music collaborations come together in my Twitter timeline – pretty cool. Sure, they could buy followers, but that wouldn’t create the same value. You could say the same about other groups too I’m sure.

  31. frieds33

    Fred, do you think displaying the Twitter count of followers for people now dilutes Twitter’s value for real and authentic interactions?Nowadays, I’m bombarded with spam of random people and companies who follow me one day, and unfollow me the next just to get more follower counts for them or gain my attention. I think the real value of Twitter is in authentic and maybe even serendipitous interactions with people about relevant topics. I want to try an experiment where I shield off the followers count for people (maybe through a Chrome extension).

    1. Emily Merkle

      I’m not Fred – but I never look at follower counts. What I do notice is the ratio of followers-to-following. That can prove to be an indicator of either reciprocal following (very silly and common) or actual engagement. Twitter has this bizarro threshold system of how many people you can follow, based on how many are following you. There are cut offs. I’m sure calculations have been done to develop these parameters in the spirit of maintaining a social equilibrium across the Twitterverse, but…I used to despise the concept of the popularity contest that is Twitter, but when I figured out how to use it the way I wanted to, with worthwhile experiences, I felt okay succumbing to the dominant paradigm.

      1. frieds33

        That’s a good point. If a business is following 10K Twitter users but only has a few hundred Twitter followers, I immediately think the business isn’t credible. But, I can investigate a bit further and usually figure that out.

    2. Matt Zagaja

      I am interested in my counts but usually more in the quality of followers. If I see spam or people I’m not interested in then that’s not growing my community. Follower numbers might be a bit inflated but the difference between 200 and 2000 is still going to be pretty clear.

  32. Victor Hu

    Great post. Next Big Sound did exactly that “artist career stage as follower counts” breakdown based on career milestones a few months ago:

  33. Farhan Lalji

    We’re looking at follower numbers and influential followers at PeerIndex, shows authenticity and the impact of your activity rather than just vanity numbers of overall followers. We’re also looking at engagement and engagement rate. Showing brands and agencies a different way to look at follower counts of their activities and that of their competitors.

  34. azeemazhar

    Hi Fred,You can go well beyond follower counts; and you can certainly predict spikes early. One of the best ways to predict those spikes is to look at engagement rates. Another is to look at the attributes of the followers. Certain types of followers are more likely to be tastemakers and trendsetters; and as the volume of followers increases you end up a mean reversion taking placeThe two together can predict growth in superstardom.Of course followers can be bought, so you need to look much deeper than that. We maintain a dataset of what we affectionately call ‘spammers’ and a data set of what we call ‘compers’ (people obsessed with mutual following) which we could apply to eliminate spam style following.In other words, you need to evaluate each follower on series of metrics rather than there total number

  35. Andrew K Kirk

    You just created a new market of black hat marketers creating fake SoundCloud accounts in order to sell artists “followers”. 🙂



  37. Semil Shah

    I am not sure about this. Follower counts don’t seem (in my observation) to correlate with engagement. In fact, in tech, some of the people with the highest follower counts rarely see much engagement with their tweets, whereas someone with a smaller/narrower yet more focused audience may have a greater chance of amplifying his/her message.

  38. Sean Hull

    As many have already pointed out, followers are for sale.I’ve noticed that with klout, followers do not move your score much. Engagement does (mentions, RTs & favorites) especially be higher klout users.From the klout about page: “Influence is the ability to drive action.”I think this is a better definition than simply “follower count”.

  39. BillMcNeely

    so last night met the rest residents of the house I rent an apartment at. One has a band called Diamondhead. They are a Neal. Diamond cover band. The singer quit his job last year finding bugs in programs to do this. The wife fully supports but needs new ways to monitization to at least pay the 400 dollar car payment.They have 300 FB followers and another 100 on Twitter. I suggested recording their upcoming concert and then selling it for x dollars.How does one build up a following on SoundCloud?

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  42. Emily Merkle

    Just the other day, I slashed my Twitter follow count from over 1k to under 90. I didn’t care about what any of those individuals had to communicate enough to keep them clogging my feed; if I want their content or ideas, I’ll seek it/them out. I have no idea how I have over 400 followers, or what that means; maybe some lurk; some I actually actively engage with. I do not reciprocally follow, nor am I a big RT/favorite-er. Maybe it means what I did – impulsively click “Follow” at some point and then never really give a damn.Hence my skepticism about shallow social media metrics. Show me actual metrics – time on site / page views per visit / video views / bounce rate – and then we can talk.

  43. Emily Merkle

    I do not disagree – but in the majority of cases, if you have 3m followers, your Twitter activity is not the driver of your Twitter fame. You’ve already made it in other channels and ways, and your reputation precedes you.