Since the days of Elvis Presley, as television began to play an increasingly important role in a musician’s success, it’s been difficult to rise to stardom in popular music without also being considered cool.
A quick glance at the top ranking artists on today’s Billboard charts – such as Drake, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift – shows that style and the ability to capture the public’s interest is perhaps more essential to success today than ever before. You can’t just be a musician to make it to the top – you must be a celebrity.
The list of artists nominated for the Billboard Music Awards, which takes place on Sunday, May 20, is primarily based on the success of the musician’s music, including album and digital sales, streaming, and radio play. To find the most beloved artists among the nominees, 24/7 Wall St. focused on fan engagement as well as Billboard performance.
Some nominees fit the celebrity-musician role better than others. For instance, Rihanna – who has also worked in film and television – has the greatest number of top 10 Billboard hits as well as the second greatest number of likes on Facebook. Fans not only support her music, but also flock to her on social media.
Other artists have more of a mixed record. Shakira has had four top 10 hits – less than 20 other nominees – yet she is far and away the most popular on Facebook, with over 103 million likes. This is 23 million more than Rihanna, who has the second most. Linkin Park has had only three top 10 hits, but the sixth most popular Facebook page.
Some of this year’s nominees have large, dedicated followings but don’t make music that necessarily translates to the charts. Electronic music producer Marshmello, for example, has not had a single top 10 hit, yet the producer has amassed nearly 40 million followers on streaming service Spotify – more than all but four of this year’s nominees.