The Real Reading and Leeds Lineup

Reading CountrysideEvery year, festival lineups get announced and we look down the posters, wondering who everyone actually is. Is it a sign that you know you’re getting old when you don’t recognise the band at the top of the bill?

Maybe not, actually given the massive number of old-timer legacy bands topping bills every year, it might actually be a sign that you’re too young. Booking a festival isn’t an easy job. Coordinating the schedules of hundreds of bands over loads of different stages, working around egos, flights and tour stops and, of course, making sure the biggest bands play at the top of the bill, to the biggest crowds.

But how do you work out how popular a band are these days? In years gone by, it may have been as easy as looking at chart positions or record sales things that are totally worthless now. The internet has definitely made it really difficult to get a grasp on just who anyone is and what they’re worth anymore, which must make the festival booker’s job all the more difficult.

We decided to help beleaguered bookers by figuring out a metric of our own for judging popularity in the internet age. How? Simple! It’s an average of a few different things:

  • Facebook fans
  • Instagram followers
  • Twitter followers
  • scrobbles
  • Spotify followers
  • Search volume around an act’s name

By ranking them all, we could re-order a festival’s lineup, nice and easy.

We were also inspired by the revelation that Sia is the most streamed artist on festival bills this year, despite not having a headline spot to call her own clearly something is amiss.

But which festival? We decided on Reading and Leeds, and not just because we worked it out too late for Glastonbury. The UK’s biggest duo of alternative music festivals stirred up some controversy for its lineup last year, when someone worked out that only nine of the almost 200 acts had any female members, with the top of the bills looking very sparse indeed. They clearly need a little bit of scrutiny.

Fortunately, Reading and Leeds have more women on the bill this year not many more, but it’s something at least. There’s a (relatively) strong showing on the two biggest stages too, thanks to Die Antwoord, CHVRCHES, Crystal Castles and HAIM, among others.

But are they in the right place? Should the Red Hot Chili Peppers still be headlining music festivals in the year 2016? Take a look at the current lineup here, then see how it compares to our shuffled-up poster below.

Reading and Leeds 2016 by Popularity

Let’s break down the biggest movers and shakers. Who deserves to be higher up the list, and who should come tumbling down?

The Most Underrated

First, let’s look at the most underrated acts on the bill, whose combined online popularity should probably see them playing a little later in the day. Here’s everyone who climbed more than four spots on our new lineup:

Position Difference
Basement 4
Draper 4
Birdy Nam Nam 4
Lemaitre 4
Jauz 4
Citizen 4
Swmrs 4
Transviolet 4
Lany 4
Baauer 4
Metro Boomin 4
Delta Heavy 5
Ghost Town 5
Sneakbo 5
Hermitude 6
The Japanese House 6
Lady Leshurr 6
Banners 8

So you’ve got underground punk acts, like Basement and Citizen, who have built up massive followings through relentless touring, which translates into a big, young following that listens to them online a lot.

You’ve also got powerful personalities, like Lady Leshurr, who make a massive splash on social media platforms like Facebook and Instagram despite not having as many listeners.  But the biggest climber is Bannners, a fairly unassuming young signer songwriter fairly far down the Festival Republic stage, whose solid following across the board means he should be on only two spots before stage headliners Maximo Park. Interesting…

The Most Overrated

Okay, so who maybe doesn’t deserve to be quite so high up the bill?

Position Difference
Little Simz -8
Luh -7
David Rodigan -6
Danny L Harle -5
Biffy Clyro -4
Biffy Clyro -4
Rat Boy -4
Philip George -4
My Nu Leng B2B Oneman + Dread MC -4
Giraffe Tongue Orchestra -4
Arcane Roots -4
Section Boyz -4

Our biggest faller is Little Simz, a fantastic rapper who’s worked with Estelle, Tinie Tempah and Ms. Dynamite, earning her praise from Zane Lowe and Dizzee Rascal. But the people just aren’t quite on board yet, and our new lineup puts her down eight whole places.

Elsewhere you’ve got the curse of the supergroup –  Giraffe Tongue Orchestra may contain members of the Dillinger Escape Plan, Mastodon and Alice In Chains, but does anyone care? Nah.

There’s also the curse of the overrated rock band made up of white boys, with the likes of Arcane Roots and Biffy Clyro.

Wait, aren’t Biffy meant to be headlining? Have any other headliners fallen?

Dethroned Headliners

While most other headliners haven’t fallen from grace quite so far as Biffy, plenty have still tumbled down the lineup. While some, like Biffy Clyro, have been rightfully replaced, some, like Foals have simply been knocked off a co-headline billing, or had their top spot turn into a shared position.

Foals Disclosure
Red Hot Chili Peppers Imagine Dragons
Biffy Clyro Fall Out Boy
Jack U Twenty One Pilots
Two Door Cinema Club Nas
DJ EZ Jauz
Good Charlotte MGK
Brian Fallon ( The Crowes Lapsley
Travi$ Scott Logic
Kano Hoodie Allen

So that’s 10 out of 18 headliners, and 149 out of 186 acts total, who have been displaced by our new calculations.

What do you reckon? Is our lineup better than the original?

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