Who Would Win The Mercury Prize If It Was Based On Streaming Figures Alone?

It’s impossible to predict the winner of the Mercury Prize. The panel for its Album of the Year award changes every year, and past winners have ranged from the high profile to the relatively unknown – until they win the prize, that is. This year Bowie’s the favourite (he’s currently at 4/9) and The Comet Is Coming are the dark horse (50/1). But what if we could predict the winner through streaming stats? We asked Spotify and Deezer to tell us what they’d noticed about streaming activity on the shortlisted albums – here’s what we learned.

Bowie’s ‘Blackstar’ is the most popular

On both Deezer and Spotify, David Bowie’s final album is the most-streamed album on the list. Then, the list runs down in a similar way according to both: second, third and fourth place is taken by Radiohead, The 1975, Skepta respectively. Down in the bottom three? Savages, Anohni and The Comet Is Coming. Interestingly, though, on Deezer Anohni was the least-streamed of the lot, despite having won the Mercury Prize once before as part of Anthony and the Johnsons.

Does age matter?

Both services report that the most popular albums with audiences over 35 are Bowie and The Comet Is Coming. If the Mercury Prize wants to appeal to young people, it would logically pick Skepta, Kano or The 1975 this year.


That’s because on Spotify, The 1975 is the most popular album on the list among under-18s, Skepta rules the roost with people aged between 18-22, and Kano with those between 23-27. Meanwhile, on Deezer, 50% of streams of Kano and Skepta come from those aged between 18-24 – that figure’s 37% for The 1975.

Kano’s had the biggest listener spike since the shortlist was announced

Deezer’s UK & Ireland editor, Dom Wallace, reckons Kano’s a good bet for the winner, partially because of maths. Speaking to NME he said, “2016’s been a massive year for grime music and with the nominations of both Kano and Skepta I think that’s a massive moment for grime – but interestingly since the announcement of the nominations, Kano’s streams have doubled, which is by far the biggest increase in streams compared to the other artists on the list.” Heard it here first, folks.

There are big gender splits

Spotify says that The 1975 have the highest proportion of female listeners. Of all the artists on the list, Kano has the biggest proportion of male listeners according to both services. Deezer puts the figure for Kano’s male listeners at 84%.

When you measure popularity, take geography into account

Bowie and Radiohead are the two most popular artists on the list, but interestingly, on Spotify, their albums are most-streamed in Mexico City over anywhere else in the world. (This is because Mexico City is densely populated and the country has a huge music market, which is why many big artists tend to have the majority of listeners there). There are some interesting stats on other artists from Deezer too: Kano and Skepta are the most popular artists in big cities like London, Birmingham and Manchester. Apparently Bat For Lashes’ ‘The Bride’ has gone down particularly well in Warsaw, while the London-based jazz trio The Comet Is Coming are much loved in Canada…

How people listen is no surprise

Deezer’s stats indicate that Michael Kiwanuka and Jamie Woon are most popular with people aged 25-34, and that those listeners tend to play the music on a computer rather than on the move – 63% of Kiwanuka’s listeners are on web. Mirroring his younger, mobile-oriented audience, 87% of Kano’s streams are on mobile.

What does it all mean?

Well, Bowie is the bookies’ favourite, but he lost the prize to James Blake in 2013, and there’s a history of big artists losing out to less well-known upstarts. So it’s really anyone’s guess. But hopefully these stats will help you make your choice if you’re planning on having a little flutter.