Music app

The Heardle Effect: How the Wordle Music App Affects…Music

If you haven’t played Heardle yet, the principle of the application is to listen to an extract of a track before trying to guess which track it is. With millions of people playing every day, that must have an effect on the music, right?

by Jason Joven by How Music Charts by Chartmetric

Heardle may have started out as a fun offshoot of Wordle by a British computer engineer between jobs, but it’s now caught the attention of the public, from ?uestlove for Spotify and millions of other players, according to the app’s webpage. Fans of the game have even created artist-specific builds that focus on Taylor Swift, BTS, and video game repertoire!

Much like Wordle, Heardle refreshes once a day, giving fans a fun and fast-paced game to boost their brains. Heardle starts when you play 1 second of a song, and you are challenged to guess the artist and song. If you can’t get it and need more time, you have five extra time increments to guess; otherwise, you lose and get the answer handed to you (in shame). To brag about your glorious victory (or defeat) on social media, you can share the outcome of your day with fun emoticons generated by the app.

Every day, the hashtag #Heardle tells stories of victory and defeat.

Our question: What impact does Heardle have on the tracks he chooses to push each day?

In the attention economy we live in these days, anything that gets people’s attention to your music is a gift from the gods (or in this case, Heardle’s creator, Omakase Studio). Heardle was rolled out on February 26, 2022, so let’s start there.

Saturday February 26: “Intro” by The xx

For the more technical, Heardle plays his daily song pick through a hidden SoundCloud player, so a natural spike in SoundCloud plays the day Heardle highlights the track forms the initial cue for attention. That’s where we can probably gauge the strength of a player base that day, like when London outfit The xx had their epic 2009 instrumental track “Intro” picked for February 26th.

The Heardle Effect on “Intro” from The xx (February 26, 2022).

“Intro” was only seeing 200-300 SoundCloud spins per day in February, but actually saw a 10x daily increase once it debuted on Heardle. Interestingly, the track didn’t resonate on other streaming platforms at the track level as a result, but at the artist level, The Recorded xx saw a six-fold increase in Spotify’s monthly listeners that day- there, which brought them to 52K. Immediately afterwards, they were essentially back to normal levels. Although we don’t know what songs people listened to that day, one thing is clear: they were not “Intro” (because we haven’t seen an increase in the level of tracks on Spotify).

The Heardle Effect on “Intro” from The xx (February 26, 2022).

So that means a five-digit number of Spotify users either decided to play some of The xx’s catalog from their own library (perhaps reliving some of their favorite tracks), or they discovered the group for the first time on Spotify, all because of Heardle. It’s pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 15: “Song 2” by Blur

My God, what a difference two weeks makes in the viral world. Word of Heardle indeed spread like wildfire, as the game released Blur’s quintessential rock track “Song 2” on March 15.

The Heardle Effect on Blur’s “Song 2” (March 15, 2022).

Hovering at around 300-400 daily spins from SoundCloud in March, “Song 2” saw a daily spin count of 3.4 million (4M+ if you include the day before/after), and sure enough, it fell back to 300-400 laps by that Thursday. That alone is proof of Heardle’s massive success.

However, neither the track nor the band saw a strong signal on the streaming or social media platforms we followed (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram).

Thursday March 17: “Like A Virgin” by Madonna

Madonna quickly caught Heardle’s attention a few days later on March 17, when the signature synthesizer riff of “Like A Virgin” rang in people’s ears that day. While SoundCloud’s rotation count grew by more than 3 million, the Material Girl saw no upside at the artist level.

The Heardle effect on Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (March 17, 2022)
The Heardle effect on Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (March 17, 2022)

“Like A Virgin”, however, saw a roughly 10x increase in Genius lyrics page views (but only to 400+), as well as a distinct roughly 63x daily increase in Shazams. global at 38K+ (including surrounding days). While not huge cues, they embody behavior never before seen in the previous two tracks.

It’s a game and pop culture moment, not a marketing strategy

Further research on Linkin Park’s “Numb” (March 24), ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” (April 8), Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” (April 8), and Mrs. Lauryn Hill (April 24) exhibits similar behavior: an increase in SoundCloud plays ranging from 3-4 million (likely active Heardle users) and incremental increases in Shazams and Genius pageviews.

However, we could not detect a noticeable increase in Spotify spins, Pandora spins, YouTube views/subscribers, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram followers or TikTok signals compared to these few Heardle examples. From time to time, the strength of your catalog can benefit, as we saw with The xx.

So, is Heardle your next music marketing opportunity? Probably not. But is it a fun moment to share with fans (even if it’s not your music)? Absolutely.

Heardle may have started out as a fun offshoot of Wordle by a British computer engineer between jobs, but it’s now caught the attention of the public, from ?uestlove for Spotify and millions of other players, according to the app’s webpage. Fans of the game have even created artist-specific builds that focus on Taylor Swift, BTS, and video game repertoire!

Much like Wordle, Heardle refreshes once a day, giving fans a fun and fast-paced game to boost their brains. Heardle starts when you play 1 second of a song, and you are challenged to guess the artist and song. If you can’t get it and need more time, you have five extra time increments to guess; otherwise, you lose and get the answer handed to you (in shame). To brag about your glorious victory (or defeat) on social media, you can share the outcome of your day with fun emoticons generated by the app.

Every day, the hashtag #Heardle tells stories of victory and defeat.

Our question: What impact does Heardle have on the tracks he chooses to push each day?

In the attention economy we live in these days, anything that gets people’s attention to your music is a gift from the gods (or in this case, Heardle’s creator, Omakase Studio). Heardle was rolled out on February 26, 2022, so let’s start there.

Saturday February 26: “Intro” by The xx

For the more technical, Heardle plays his daily song pick through a hidden SoundCloud player, so a natural spike in SoundCloud plays the day Heardle highlights the track forms the initial cue for attention. That’s where we can probably gauge the strength of a player base that day, like when London outfit The xx had their epic 2009 instrumental track “Intro” picked for February 26th.

The Heardle Effect on “Intro” from The xx (February 26, 2022).

“Intro” was only seeing 200-300 SoundCloud spins per day in February, but actually saw a 10x daily increase once it debuted on Heardle. Interestingly, the track didn’t resonate on other streaming platforms at the track level as a result, but at the artist level, The Recorded xx saw a six-fold increase in Spotify’s monthly listeners that day- there, which brought them to 52K. Immediately afterwards, they were essentially back to normal levels. Although we don’t know what songs people listened to that day, one thing is clear: they were not “Intro” (because we haven’t seen an increase in the level of tracks on Spotify).

The Heardle Effect on “Intro” from The xx (February 26, 2022).

So that means a five-digit number of Spotify users either decided to play some of The xx’s catalog from their own library (perhaps reliving some of their favorite tracks), or they discovered the group for the first time on Spotify, all because of Heardle. It’s pretty cool.

Tuesday, March 15: “Song 2” by Blur

My God, what a difference two weeks makes in the viral world. Word of Heardle indeed spread like wildfire, as the game released Blur’s quintessential rock track “Song 2” on March 15.

The Heardle Effect on Blur’s “Song 2” (March 15, 2022).

Hovering at around 300-400 daily spins from SoundCloud in March, “Song 2” saw a daily spin count of 3.4 million (4M+ if you include the day before/after), and sure enough, it fell back to 300-400 laps by that Thursday. That alone is proof of Heardle’s massive success.

However, neither the track nor the band saw a strong signal on the streaming or social media platforms we followed (e.g. Spotify, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram).

Thursday March 17: “Like A Virgin” by Madonna

Madonna quickly caught Heardle’s attention a few days later on March 17, when the signature synthesizer riff of “Like A Virgin” rang in people’s ears that day. While SoundCloud’s rotation count grew by more than 3 million, the Material Girl saw no upside at the artist level.

The Heardle effect on Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (March 17, 2022)
The Heardle effect on Madonna’s “Like A Virgin” (March 17, 2022)

“Like A Virgin”, however, saw a roughly 10x increase in Genius lyrics page views (but only to 400+), as well as a distinct roughly 63x daily increase in Shazams. global at 38K+ (including surrounding days). While not huge cues, they embody behavior never before seen in the previous two tracks.

It’s a game and pop culture moment, not a marketing strategy

Further research on Linkin Park’s “Numb” (March 24), ABBA’s “Dancing Queen” (April 8), Annie Lennox’s “Walking on Broken Glass” (April 8), and Mrs. Lauryn Hill (April 24) exhibits similar behavior: an increase in SoundCloud plays ranging from 3-4 million (likely active Heardle users) and incremental increases in Shazams and Genius pageviews.

However, we could not detect a noticeable increase in Spotify spins, Pandora spins, YouTube views/subscribers, Twitter/Facebook/Instagram followers or TikTok signals compared to these few Heardle examples. From time to time, the strength of your catalog can benefit, as we saw with The xx.

So, is Heardle your next music marketing opportunity? Probably not. But is it a fun moment to share with fans (even if it’s not your music)? Absolutely.




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