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SoundCloud and the Triadic Closure Property


Today’s mainstream rap scene has become diluted with colorful-haired rappers with face tattoos. These “SoundCloud rappers” all seem to have flamboyant personalities that often outmatch their actual rapping abilities. They may not be the most talented musicians, but they have mastered one very important skill in making it in the entertainment business — how to go viral. The phenomenon of Internet buzz and instant mass exposure is nothing new in the music industry. Soulja Boy’s dance to his hit song “Crank That” took over the internet and schools in 2007. In 2013, you couldn’t go a day without seeing a new group of people dancing to “Harlem Shake” on YouTube or FaceBook. Yet this new wave of rappers have seemingly found a way to constantly achieve viral success after success. This subgenre of rap gets its name from the artists initial shared use of the music sharing social network, SoundCloud. SoundCloud is a completely free website that allows independent musicians to upload their music for no cost. As a result, many up-and-coming artists are discovered through this media since they are able to post their music with no financial backing from the traditional music labels.

The explosion of SoundCloud rappers onto mainstream radio is primarily due to networking properties that we have studied in this class, primarily the Strong Triadic Closure Property. This property states that if 2 nodes both have edges to a different node, then they will most likely form an edge between themselves. In this case, the nodes are the artists and their listeners, and the edges are friendships between 2 people or an individual being a fan of an artist. There are hordes of high school and college kids who spend hours every day searching SoundCloud for the next big hit. If Friend A discovers an amazing song by Artist B, then Friend A may text the link to the song to their Friend C. Since Friend A has ties with both Artist B and Friend C, the STCP states that Friend C will most likely become a fan of Artist B. Scenarios like this one are how most songs blow up on SoundCloud. All of these artists receive no promotion nor exposure from the record labels, so all of their following comes from word of mouth from their initial fans. These songs and artists usually see small growth followed by an exponential boom in views as their music takes off. As more and more people listen to the song, more edges are created with the singer’s node, and the STCP implies that even more edges will be formed as these new fans listen to and tell their friends about the song.


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September 2018