Music analytics firm Next Big Sound has published its end-of-year report for 2012, with a blizzard of stats around online music growth and social activity around it. The firm tracked 93.8bn song-plays for artists it was tracking and 5.7bn new fans for those artists on social networks – up 45% and 67% respectively year-on-year. The company pulls out SoundCloud as a site showing particularly strong growth in fan activity – it tripled in 2012 – while noting that YouTube and Vevo, Twitter and Facebook activity for an artist remains the best pointers to debut and peak chart positions on Billboard’s main US chart. Other data: unsigned and independent artists account for around 30% of social activity versus 15% in industry sales; and the albums releases driving most social-fan growth for artists were by The Lumineers, Alt-J and Gary Clark Jr.

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