If you’re like me and believe there is nothing more important an artist can do than build their core fanbase, then repeat listenership may be the single most important metric to determine whether cult fandom is taking place.
In other words, how many streams are you getting per listener?
Regardless of how many fans an artist has, this metric is the test as to whether or not the music is resonating – True fans listen to records more than once.
The ratio of streams to unique listeners can also be a valuable metric to compare potential single options (assuming there isn’t dilution from a song whose stream count is being propelled by playlist support).
While streaming habits continue to evolve and there isn’t a steadfast ratio to predict a hit every time, using my own artists’ data and help from a few friends’ artists, I have concluded hit records have anywhere from a 5:1 to 12:1 stream to listener ratio – Over time, most #1 records seem to level out around 10:1.
In other words, if your song has two streams per every one listener, it’s probably a dud.
If your song is a hit, the people who listen to it will play it again and again.
Finding this ratio is easily available in Spotify’s artist insights and analytics backends by comparing streams to listeners on any song or the artist as a whole. I am looking for it on Apple Music’s backend as well, but haven’t been able to find it yet as of this morning.