Paramount Network’sYellowstone is one the biggest shows on television.
The show just wrapped up its 5th season (well, half of it) and we already have new shows such as 1923 enraging fans with their mid-season hiatus.
Back in January of 2022, the Season 4 finale drew a whopping 9.3 million total viewers, good enough to become the most watched cable series since the season eight premiere of The Walking Dead back in 2017.
In addition to the tremendous characters and writing, the soundtrack is unparalleled for country music fans.
From Chris Stapleton to Whiskey Myers, Turnpike Troubadours and Tyler Childers, Emmylou Harris and Zach Bryan, the show’s four seasons has undoubtedly featured some of the best country music the genre has to offer.
Not to mention the show features of ton of Ryan Bingham, who stars in the show as Walker, the ex-con ranch hand.
Shoutout to Andrea von Foerster and Taylor Sheridan for curating such a phenomenal playlist.
I’ve truly never seen a show so intertwined with a genre of music and it has made for some very special moments within the show, especially with artist Ryan Bingham being an every-day character. However, these moments extend well beyond the screen and have significant impacts on the songs and artists who have their music featured.
Looking at just the latest season I set out to measure the impact of exposing Yellowstone’s massive audience to the authentic country music featured – the majority of which were not commercially popular and receive no radio airplay.
The visual below allows you to choose some of the songs featured in Season Four and one of the publicly available metrics for that track to see the impact its appearance on Yellowstone had on its consumption.
The blue line represents the selected metric over time and the grey line indicates the change in that metric compared to the previous day. You will also notice a dotted vertical line on the date of the episode’s air date with which the track was featured. Hover over any line to view additional detail.
Flipping through these songs and metrics you will see huge spikes across metrics starting the day after the episode aired for the first time. For example, “Ain’t Got Much” by Ross Shifflett had just over 20,000 Spotify streams when it was playing during episode three on November 14.
In the few weeks since, that number has been multiplied by a factor of 10 and reached almost 200,000 streams. That upward trend looks like it will continue as well.
Huge increases in Spotify metrics such as streams and popularity (0 – 100 scale) make a lot of sense given the exposure to the show’s audience, as well as the subsequent addition to playlists such as the Whiskey Riff playlist mentioned above.
That playlist specifically has a very large following (over 110,000 followers at the of this article) and leads to even more streams over time.
But these gains are not unique to just Spotify.
The Panhandlers had their track “West Texas In My Eye” featured in episode three as well and saw a big spike in new Pandora stations. This means that since their feature, more and more fans have started Pandora stations looking to hear that song along with similar Panhandler tracks. The total streams of “West Texas In My Eye” on Pandora has also increased dramatically.
The last platform with publicly available data that consistently reflected large spikes in consumption for songs featured on the show was Shazam. For those unaware, this app identifies music played into the device’s microphone and evidently was used quite frequently by Yellowstone viewers to look up the soundtrack.
Even a song as iconic as Jason Isbell’s “Cover Me Up” which has been covered by countless artists and saw a surge in popularity when Morgan Wallen included his cover on his Dangerous album, saw a huge increase in Shazam identifications during and right after its feature on Yellowstone. That alone showcases the massive marketing power of the show and that many viewers were hearing these songs for the very first time.
Perhaps no artist benefited more from being a part of season four than Shane Smith & the Saints. Their song “All I See Is You”was played at the very end of Episode Three and in the opening of Episode Four. The title of Episode 4 was also “All I See Is You” and the group even got a mid-episode shoutout from the show’s creator Taylor Sheridan via his character Travis Wheatley.
To say the song took off would be a tremendous understatement.
While this was already a relatively popular song, Yellowstone put a kink in the graph with the track being consumed more than ever. Just like the other tracks, “All I See Is You” shows no signing of regression even weeks after the episode air date.
Even better for Shane Smith & the Saints, this was not the only song of theirs to see a rise in popularity. In fact, their entire discography has gotten a boost resulting in all of their artist metrics improving too.
As seen in the visual above in which you can change the selected metric, the group has seen an uptick in Spotify Popularity, Spotify Followers, Spotify Monthly Listeners, Pandora Monthly Listeners, along with Facebook and Twitter followers. In the two months since the episode aired, they gained as many Spotify followers as they had in the two years prior.
Crazy what happens when you expose country music fans to actual country music.
What Yellowstone is doing for independent and underground country artists that do not have the luxury of mainstream radio airplay is simply unprecedented. Appearances in other TV shows and movies often provide temporary increases in consumption, but the combination of Yellowstone’s demographics and superb musical choices has created an amazing opportunity for artists to see sustained growth long after their song is featured.
This continued growth and interest in these artists and their music outside of the show prove that country music fans are ready and willing to listen to sounds originating Nashville’s music row.
Yellowstone is not only the most valuable promotional tool for artists not signed to major Nashville labels, but is also the best opportunity to push the genre back toward the more traditional sound its foundation was built upon.