YouTube Music studies and music video typology

2015/04/20 by Lassi A. Liikkanen

Video typology
YouTube music
Goodbye to MP3s

Listening Music on YouTube – Two Studies

This page introduces my two scientific studies on YouTube music listening from 2015. It starts with a live presentation of a YouTube music video typology. The typology comes from the paper “Music on YouTube” published in Computers in Human Behavior. It is here demoed with examples more livelier than the print allows. Below short news items and links to full length articles can be found.

Typology of YouTube music videos

The three main types are described briefly below and each subtype is illustrated by a video. Please see the full paper for details. Bear in mind that this is interpretative work based on YouTube search results for popular videos.

Disclaimers: The examples below were linked in March 2015 and we apologize in advance for their expected expiry in the future. We would also like to remind the reader that this is not an exhaustive typology in terms of the video subtypes. We acknowledge the existence of further subtypes, but we have focused on the most repeatedly occurring forms as explained in the paper.

Primary type: Traditional

These videos are what we normally think of when talking about music videos. Three subtypes are noted and in this case illustrated in relation to a single title (Adele's Rolling in the Deep):

1. Classic music video

2. Alternative version

3. Live music

Primary type: User-appropriated

In these videos, users have taken utilized (i.e. appropriated) the music, the audio track to be presented with new simple visual content. In cases, these videos illustrate music that has never had an artist-made traditional music video version made. However, we considered that these videos were foremost intended for making the original music accessible.

4. Still music video

5. Lyrics

6. Embedded lyrics (on motion picture)

7. Fan illustrated
Comment: this motion picture is not the actual video of the original music video (classisal video subtype), even though it looks very much like one<

Primary type: Derivative

Derivative videos borrow some aspects of an original song or a music video, but essentially shift the focus away from the original content the new material. This material maybe produced by a cover artist, a parody maker, dance group, DJ etc. Original music serves as an inspiration or backdrop, but most importantly, the publisher has maintained the association by naming the video as if it was a traditional music video.

8. Cover music video

9. Dance

10. Parody

11. User-generated

12. Other type of derivate video

Music on YouTube: User engagement with Traditional, User-Appropriated and Derivative Videos

User creativity made YouTube the world’s biggest music service

YouTube has recently emerged as the leading digital music service. User-generated content is a key reason for its success, shows a recent study by Aalto University researchers.

‘Millions of people use YouTube just to listen to music. Turns out they are not too picky about its origin,’ Dr. Lassi A. Liikkanen says.

Music is the most popular YouTube content by several measures, including video views and search activity. According to the study, the users are willing to listen to music from YouTube without video content. They are also happy with music with rolling lyrics over a still photo, cover versions, and even parodies of the authentic music content.

‘These variations that we call user-appropriated videos are readily available and well promoted on YouTube. This is what makes YouTube an interesting music service,’ Liikkanen says. The research highlights how people re-use original music from popular artists to create music video variations which may reach an audience of millions and can be found alongside any popular music title.

Lyrics and still videos, which only include music, rank highly in YouTube search results. A popular video, say a new Beyoncé song, may share its audience collaterally with similar user-generated videos because they appear next to one another in the search results and suggested content. The researchers named this the halo effect.

In this study the researchers created a typology of YouTube music videos. ‘Our analysis found three primary music video types: traditional, user-appropriated, and derivative music videos,’ post-doctoral researcher Antti Salovaara explains.

Through a series of qualitative and quantitative studies of YouTube content, researchers studied both the popularity of music videos and the attention they get from the audience.

First academic study of YouTube music consumption

Researchers from Aalto University are excited that this is the publication of the world’s first academic study of YouTube music consumption. ‘YouTube transformed the digital media world. It changed music listening practices. Finally, we have a scientific record of this wonderfully rich cultural phenomenon,’ the primary author, Dr. Lassi A. Liikkanen, explains.

‘Earlier studies ignored music’s tremendous pull, even though it must have been obvious to everyone using YouTube. We only have a single academic reference point from six years back. In this time, the artists have changed, but music has remained on top of the charts.’

Publication information:
Liikkanen L. & Salovaara A. Music on YouTube: User engagement with Traditional, User-Appropriated and Derivative Videos. Computers in Human Behavior. Elsevier. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.01.067

Please see the audioslides presentation from ScienceDirect website:

DOWNLOAD THE FULL TEXT PDF HERE (link valid until June 6, 2015)

Goodbye to MP3s: Music Listeners are Happy with Two Streaming Services

Young adults shuffle between YouTube and Spotify to find the music they want to hear. CDs and even digital files have become outdated, shows a new study by researchers of Aalto University, Finland.

76% of respondents to a survey of over 600 young Finns listened music from YouTube every day.
YouTube and Spotify were by far the most popular music sources in the study. YouTube was the most frequently used service for music listening and new music discovery. Even active Spotify users visited YouTube often to complement Spotify’s incomplete music selection. YouTube was also perceived as the most shareable music source by the Finnish students in their early 20s who participated in the internet-based study.

‘The popularity of YouTube was overwhelming. Nearly everyone uses it for listening music’, says Dr. Lassi A. Liikkanen. ‘YouTube has transformed digital media world and the practices of music listening. For the first time, we now have a scientific record of the big change that has happened.’

Why do users flock to YouTube to listen to music?
Although motion picture content might seem as an important attractor for YouTube, Aalto University researchers found little support for this idea.

‘It’s not only about the videos. We believe that at least in solitary YouTube music listening context, the video is secondary to audio. We ran an experiment to evaluate this and found that our participants evaluated their musical experience similarly regardless of the presence of accompanying picture. This provokes many questions for future research’, says Liikkanen. The study was published in the journal Interacting with Computers (Oxford University Press).

This study describes a transition from the first generation of digital music to second generation solution, from file downloads to streams. ‘The change has already happened for the people under 30. We expect that the rest of the population will follow. The transition is of course not clear cut. Our results show that people will return to their CD’s and MP3 files at times -but they are not getting new content this way. This means that economically speaking, both CD and digital downloads will be dead in a matter of years’, Liikkanen continues.

Dr. Liikkanen and Aalto University doctorate student Pirkka Åman also documented the slow evolution of music listening interfaces. The way consumers listen to music with these second generation of digital music services has not changed much even though the list of most popular services constantly changes. ‘Streaming music services also require searching for music and creating playlists. Digital services have offered new types of radio experiences, but the future lies in hybrid systems that combine human preferences with intelligent recommendations’, describes Åman.


Publication information:
Liikkanen L. & Åman P. Shuffling services - Current trends in interacting with digital music. Interacting with Computers. Oxford University Press. DOI: 10.1093/iwc/iwv004

Related content:
Order copies of INVOLUNTARY MUSICAL IMAGERY – EVERYDAY BUT EPHEMERAL Dissertation , 2018/08/27

Black windowing – the curse on the streaming music service customers, 2016/05/20

Liikkanen L. & Salovaara A. (2015) Music on YouTube: User appropriation and engagement. Computers in Human Behavior. DOI: 10.1016/j.chb.2015.01.067, 2015/04/20

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Keywords: [music] , [media_psychology] Document's status: Ok (Document dates explained)

This document created: 2015/03/22
Modified: 2015/04/20
Published: 2015/04/20

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