The Laughable Artist Graph – An Explainer

 

We’re excited to share the just-published Laughable Artist Graph, which visualizes the comedy/podcasting universe in a new and (we think) fascinating way: by linking together the most popular artists on our platform based on the listeners they have in common.

The graph is populated with six months’ worth of user engagement data collected in the Laughable iPhone app between 9.1.17 and 3.31.18. Because we keep track of which artists appear on a given episode – and which users listen to it – we’re able to calculate how many people listen to an artist (as a host or a guest) in a given period.

We can take things a step further, even: how many of the people who listened to Artist X also listened to Artist Y? 

Our analysis covers thousands of artists, tens of thousands of users, and hundreds of thousands of podcasts. The Graph is a visual distillation of the most important relationships between them all. We hope it accomplishes the following:

– Serves as a fun and interesting visualization for anyone interested in comedy, podcasting, and/or data science to play around with.

– Helps comedy fans find new artists and podcasts to fall in love with.

– Helps comedians get a better sense of who else their fans really like, and use those insights to make smarter decisions about who to collaborate with – on podcasts and beyond.


HOW TO INTERPRET/INTERACT WITH THE GRAPH

Each artist photo is a “node”. The larger the node, the greater the number of people who listened to that artist on podcasts (as a host or a guest) on Laughable for at least 20 hours between 9.1.17 and 3.31.18.

Each line between two artists indicates how much overlap they have in their fan bases. The higher the number of Laughable users who listened to at least 20 hours of each artist on podcasts, the thicker/darker the line (it doesn’t matter whether the artists appeared on the same episodes or not). This is called “co-occurrence”.

When you click/tap on a specific artist (as we have below with Artist Collective member Jared Freid), the other artists Laughable users most frequently also tune into will pop out:

 

Explore the networks of your favorite artists! We’d bet you’ll encounter some familiar faces – those of other artists you love. Be sure to check out the artists you’re not already familiar with; statistically speaking, there’s an elevated probability you’ll become a fan of theirs, as well.

A Note About Our Methodology

The Artist Graph draws upon millions of individual data points. We employed a range of statistical techniques to isolate the strongest signals and visualize them in a useful way. With an analysis this complex, there are always tradeoffs to make in choosing what data to focus on and which techniques to apply. For example: our approach penalized some artists who have many listeners on Laughable but whose fans don’t tend to listen to other comedians and podcasts. We made this tradeoff because we think the magic of the Graph is to show how artists are connected through common fans.

We’re always all ears to how we can make our analytics even more helpful to users and artists, so don’t hesitate to reach out with feedback/questions/etc. I can be reached directly at n@laughable.com.


KEY OBSERVATIONS

1) The Gender Gap

Only 16 (8%) of the 200 artists in the Graph are women. We certainly wish this figure were way higher, and the lamentable reality is that this gender imbalance is not unique to Laughable’s most popular artists; while we don’t have hard data on this, it’s readily observable that today’s population of comedians and podcasters writ large is disproportionally male, white, and straight. The good news is that comedy is getting more diverse by the day. Maybe not quickly enough, but it’s moving in the right direction.

2) The Most Popular Artists

Here are the ten most popular artists on Laughable, as measured by the number of Laughable users who listened to them on podcasts for at least 20 hours between 9.1.17 and 3.31.18. You can click/tap on a name to go to that artist’s profile in the Laughable app.

1 Joe Rogan
2 Ari Shaffir
3 Bert Kreischer
4 Tom Segura
5 Joey Diaz
6 Luis J. Gomez
7 Christina P
8 Dave Smith
9 Big Jay Oakerson
10 Lee Syatt

3) Some Thoughts on Joe Rogan

Rogan has done more to both expedite and capitalize on the emergence of podcasts as a mass medium than any other comedian. All 200 artists on the Graph – and especially the top 10 listed above – are highly influential. But Rogan is truly on another level. In fact, we think there’s a strong case he’s the most influential comedian of his generation.

Across Laughable and other podcatchers, more people listen to The Joe Rogan Experience than any other comedy podcast. And it’s routinely one of the world’s five most popular podcasts across all genres. We’re talking millions of listeners every month.

But Rogan’s influence isn’t rooted so much in what he’s done for himself as what he’s done for others; he welcomes comedians and other guests – athletes, musicians, authors, and more – onto almost every episode. Even one appearance can put a comedian on the map or a book on the bestseller list. Over the last few years, dozens of comedians’ careers have been turbocharged thanks to appearing on Joe’s show, including those of Joey Diaz, Bert Kreischer, and Tony Hinchcliffe – all immensely talented comics who were able to grow their fan bases even quicker thanks to the exposure they had to JRE listeners.


THE BIGGER PICTURE

The data we’ve visualized in our graph is drawn from our users’ engagement with podcasts, but its utility transcends any one medium. Fundamentally, we’ve found a new way to quantify the relationships between COMEDIANS and their FANS based on popularity, and the relationships between COMEDIANS and OTHER COMEDIANS based on the fans they have in common.

This data in the Graph – and other analytics tools we’ve pioneered – are helping us deliver kick-ass podcast recommendations to our users, and in the near future, it will also power our recommendations of OTHER things comedians are creating – e.g. their standup specials, TV shows/movies, live performances, and merchandise. (We call all this “comedic output”; read more about that here.)

We’ll do all this within our dedicated comedy marketplace, encompassing everything fans want and artists create – and powered by exactly the kind of data we’ve described in this post. All in service of our dual mission to help fans FIND FUNNY! and artists find fans and money.


SPECIAL THANKS TO…

– You for reading. We hope you found this interesting. If so, please consider sharing it with others. Questions or feedback? Email Laughable CEO/Janitor Ned Kenney at n@laughable.com. We especially want to hear from you if you’re a comedy-obsessed data geek with ideas on how else we might want to visualize our data in interesting and illuminating ways.

Stuart Foulston, my Co-Founder and Laughable’s Head of Product, for coding the Graph. He didn’t want me to call him a genius here… but I’m going to anyway, because he is.

– Laughable Special Advisor Paul Glenn for his indispensable guidance on this project. (Check out his phenomenal speech, Beauty and Truth, from his Berkeley School of Information graduation ceremony in 2017.)

Mike Bostock, whose incredible open-source resources on D3 we adapted as the foundation of this visualization.

– Simon Raper, whose own awesome open-source contributions we also wove into the Graph.

– MAB, ARG, & MJW for all their good ideas/sage wisdom.


LINKS

Download Laughable for iOS. You’ll never go back to whatever other app you’re currently using for podcasts.

– Android users, sign up to be notified when we have an app ready for you.

Head back to the Laughable Artist Graph.

Read about why I (i.e. CEO/Co-Founder/Janitor Ned Kenney) started Laughable.