ABBA’s global heatmap


The ABBAmania took over the World in the second half of the 70s. The Swedish quartet ABBA broke various sales records in many countries with their success being compared with the one of the Beatles a decade earlier, except in the US. Some 40 years later, their catalog is still hot enough to release massively popular comedy musicals based on it. How global the band really is though? Have they at last broke over the US as much as abroad? Are they still beloved more in Sweden than anywhere else?

The method

In order to identify on which countries ABBA performed well, the way to go is to look at data from various top sellers and compare their own results with theirs. Thus, we collected market by market YouTube statistics of 17 major artists including the Beatles, Michael Jackson, Elvis Presley, Madonna, and Queen. The sample also includes a various recent artists among which AdeleBeyoncéBritney Spears, and Eminem.

As stated inside the article Learn how to exploit YouTube Insights, the absolute number of views is irrelevant. Depending on your target audience and its YouTube usage habits, you will have very different results. Relative results do matter though. That’s why rather than comparing views numbers, we compare the share of views coming from each market for all these artists. For example, both the Beatles and Queen have over 1,6 million monthly views in Japan. Since Queen outperform the Beatles by 3 to 1 globally, that means Japan is a market 3 times more relevant for the Beatles. In conclusion, even if both have similar views there, the latter group is relatively speaking bigger there.

Once we defined the strength of each market for scale artists, we calculate their averages. To continue with our example, our scale artists register 6,86% of their global streams in Japan. ABBA‘s count there stands at 8,64%, it means the relevance of this market is 126% (8,64%/6,86%) as high for her as for the others.


The results

ABBA global heatmap values

The greenest a country is, the best ABBA performed in comparison to the scale artists. On yellow ones, they are on par with the average. Countries in orange represent weaker performances, the most red they get, the most they underperform. Countries in white fail to appear among their personal Top 100 markets on YouTube.

We aren’t done still. An artist can record a huge chunk of his views in a few countries only, say in the US. Their comparative shares in remaining countries would then underperform massively reference values. This issue is known for years in the world of statisticians. A very efficient way to avoid these outliers consists in comparing rankings instead of raw values. As a result, instead of saying that ABBA outperform the scale by 2.59 to 1 in Hungary, we will say that Hungary is the country of rank 1, the one where they perform the best relatively speaking.

ABBA global heatmap rank

The greenest a country is, the highest it is among ABBA‘s top markets and so on until red markets.

The analysis

Surprisingly, Sweden fails to come at the top among ABBA‘s best markets. It’s their 6th biggest still with a relative strength more than 2 times superior to remaining acts. Finland (#2), Norway (#11), and Denmark (#23) show that they are still widely loved in Scandinavia.

In truth, it’s the entire region going from Germany (#19) to Russia (#12) that is crazy about their evergreen pop music. In fact, 22 out of their top 23 markets belong to this geographic area. This includes their very best place, Hungary, as well as remaining Top 5 hitters Estonia, Slovenia, and Austria. In all these countries, just like in Poland, Lithuania, and Bulgaria, they top the average by 2 to 1 or more.

Should we conclude that ABBA is a European phenomenon only? Well no. South Korea appears to be very strong for them, landing at #10 with a strength of nearly 2 too. Additional Asian markets like Vietnam (#24), Japan (#30) and Singapore (#41) also record positive numbers. We can’t say they rule the continent yet since their results in Indonesia (#85) and Thailand (#99) are fairly bad. They underperform the norm by 3 to 1 in the latter country. They are also not so popular in South Asia as India, Pakistan, and Bangladesh are all in their bottom 10 while Nepal completely misses their top 100. Only Sri Lanka (#42) does well from the region.

Interestingly, the rank map almost shows a red line in the middle of the World, going from the US to Indonesia. It appears that some cultures weren’t as convinced as others by this pure North European sound. This includes Spanish-speaking areas, predominantly muslin regions and countries with mostly black people.

These well below par strengths are all the more negative once we consider their low number in the US. Their market #92, this country is in absolute terms far and away the largest YouTube home. The second market out of all in absolute terms is Mexico, also a weak place for them as it lands at #82. By getting lower than expected numbers in both, ABBA saves significant shares to distribute into remaining countries, which explains why they score over 1 of strength in 58 countries out of 100. They do record mostly good results in both the 3rd and 4th largest markets, Brazil (#38) and the UK (#51).

This last number highlights a situation we have met multiple times with heatmaps of the likes Michael Jackson and Madonna. Markets where they are well-known top sellers, like ABBA in the UK, do not appear that high in the list. The same can be said about Australia which ranks at #55. The conclusion? A relatively bad market for them is still a great one in absolute terms. Countries in red aren’t countries where they are unknown, simply countries where they aren’t as hot as elsewhere. Thus, ABBA do are global, even if we can still distinguish better / weaker regions for them.

If you are more of a number guy, below is the list of countries with both values and ranks.

ABBA global heatmap list of countries


Don’t miss similar studies on these superstars…

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