The Bonnaroo Bump: What Happens When a Band Plays a Festival?


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Over 90,000 concertgoers descended on Tennessee’s Bonnaroo Music and Arts Festival this summer to watch 172 bands compete for their attention.

We wondered what playing Bonnaroo did for bands in terms of listening. In other words, is there a measurable “Bonnaroo Bump,” akin to Stephen Colbert’s infamous “Colbert Bump”?

Yes, we were able to prove that there is a significant one. But we didn’t find the most pronounced effect quite where we thought we would.

“The ‘Bonnaroo Bump’ is actually largest before the festival, and comes in three waves,” explains Ajay Kalia, Product Owner of Taste Profiles at Spotify. “There’s a brief spike when the line-up is announced, another increase about two months before the festival when the night line-up is announced, and a final wave of increased listening in the days leading up to the festival.”


Now we know the “Bonnaroo Bump” is real, and is actually largest just before the festival kicks off, because so many attendees explore bands on Spotify as they hatch their Bonnaroo plans.


Of all the bands in our study, one band received the biggest bump of them all: Goat, “a collective who hail from a small and very remote village in deepest darkest Sweden” (pictured to the right).

Here’s a ranked list of the top 20 Bonnaroo Bump recipients, where you can listen to each one:

  1. Goat
  2. A Tribe Called Red
  3. Warpaint
  4. Diarrhea Planet
  5. Sarah Jarosz
  6. Foreign Fields
  7. Royal Teeth
  8. Hunter Hunted
  9. J. Roddy Walston & The Business
  10. Slightly Stoopid
  11. Cage the Elephant
  12. Ty Segall
  13. Wiz Khalifa
  14. The Bouncing Souls
  15. Seasick Steve
  16. Cayucas
  17. Blackberry Smoke
  18. Classixx
  19. Jake Bugg
  20. The Lonely Biscuits


To explore the Bonnaroo Bump, we wanted to remove artists that would see increases for reasons other than Bonnaroo, and compare the remaining group to a baseline of artists with similar mix of genres and popularity. The general idea was to eliminate as many outside forces as we could, so as to isolate the Bonnaroo Bump.

  • Kalia pulled streaming data for the 172 artists who played Bonnaroo, and created the Bonnaroo test group by removing:
    • artists who released a studio album in the six months prior to Bonnaroo,
    • artists whose global popularity changed massively in the six months prior to Bonnaroo, and
    • artists whose stream counts were low enough that differences could be statistical noise.
  • To measure the increase attributable to Bonnaroo, the test group was compared to a control group of artists made up of each test group artist’s most similar artists, based on similarity data from The Echo Nest at Spotify.