Big DataMusic Industry

Music consumption is growing exponentially. More than 90% of Americans are spending 20+ hours per week listening to music. This is sure to be a big year for all in the music industry, and developing a solid strategy will help you and your artists stay ahead of the curve. Competition will be fierce in 2016, with more streaming services and consumption platforms being released all the time. The most success will be had by those using data-driven strategies to market their music to savvier consumers. Here are five tips to help you take advantage of data to rock your music strategy in 2016.

 

  1. Increase revenue by turning fans into customers: make your music data work for you

 

In 2016, a data-driven music strategy is going to make all the difference. Your users are, first and foremost, fans of music. If you can harness the data available to you about their likes, patterns, and locations, you can turn those fans into customers of your brand by doing things like:

 

  • Set concerts in the cities where your artists are most listened to, in order to increase revenue from ticket and merchandise sales.
  • Revolutionize your merchandising strategy by selling more for top-streamed artists where people are listening to them.
  • Reallocate your advertising budget on services to push services/artists that have the biggest potential according to your audience.

 

  1. Maximize your reach with strategic partnerships: build your music strategy around users’ interests

 

Develop a data-driven approach (are we sensing a trend?) to branding. Target your users as consumers, and find out which products and services are trending with specific demographics. Then build partnerships with those brands and your artists in advertising campaigns. An example of this on a grand scale would be Beyonce and Pepsi. While branding partnerships typically had a stigma attached to it for artists, it’s now becoming viewed as a beneficial branding boost to help break new artists, as well as to support existing artists.

  1. Take advantage of how modern hits are created: use winning formulas in your music strategy

 

In a culture constantly obsessed with the latest viral video or meme, it comes as no surprise that 90% of music industry revenue comes from 10% of the songs. The way these pop hits are created has evolved since the turn of the century. No longer simple combinations of melody and lyrics, today’s hits are carefully crafted, hook-filled, and packed with chord progressions written to make an impression consciously and subconsciously. These “track and hook” productions have helped create these viral hits. They can almost instantly turn an unknown artist into a celebrity, and will often lead to label deals and profitable tours.

 

Big data is even being used now in the creation of digital music. Producers and their audio software can use data to measure listeners’ visceral responses to musical compositions and combinations. While it’s been shown that totally automated generation of music yields a product too perfect to be pleasing to human ears, these innovations show that big data is not only changing the way users consume music, but driving the way that music is being created.

 

  1. Optimize mobile to attract customers and build community: a wealth of music data at your fingertips

 

Especially true for streaming services and emerging music consumption platforms, our mobile devices have become one of the primary ways we consume music on a daily basis. The data available to the music industry from the way consumers use their mobile devices is invaluable, and the opportunity for the music industry to engage their customers on a daily basis is rife with possibility. Make sure that your music strategy this year includes offering mobile tools and forums for your listeners to interact with you and with each other, and you’ll keep them engaged with your artists and your brand.

 

  1. Use your music data to increase customer retention and boost revenue

 

Distributors, labels, and industry players are always looking to increase revenues from their existing customers. Customer retention is another area where music data can augment your strategy. If your user comes to your brand for a core service, but you are able to effectively optimize the data you have about him to offer him additional services, he is more likely to return to your platform in the future. The more data you have about your user’s behavior, the better you can market the products he may be interested in, and the easier it becomes to keep him coming back for more.

 

 

With competition expanding daily, developing a shrewd music strategy to market your artists and their music in 2016 is more important than ever. Stay on top of the industry trends, use the data available to maximize your marketing efforts, and build a consumer base that you can retain and cater to. From the way hit music is created, to the considerations that fuel marketing strategies for industry insiders, it appears that 2016 will only propel the music industry further into data-driven landscapes.

Music Industry

The advent of smartphones and digital streaming drastically and rapidly changed the way music is accessed by consumers. Unfortunately for streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music, regulatory standards haven’t kept pace with the tech, and now the business model is being challenged. Spotify is fielding a multi-million dollar lawsuit for distributing compositions (allegedly) without obtaining the proper mechanical licenses. Moreover, streaming outfits like Spotify and Apple Music are facing serious pressure from powerhouse recording artists like Adele, Taylor Swift, and Coldplay to alter their business models and only release certain titles to customers paying for premium accounts. What do these increasing pressures mean for rights holders, and how will it affect the music industry as a whole?

 

Publishing rights crash: the Spotify lawsuit

 

With the rise of music streaming, millions of consumers discovered an interactive, effortless means of discovering new artists and albums. Instead of hearing a new single on the radio, finding the artist, buying the album, uploading the files to your computer, and transferring the files to your media player, many have opted for smart playlists, data-driven suggestions and instant access to new music. Just after Christmas 2015, a $150 million lawsuit was filed against Spotify, alleging that the streaming service has been complicit in failing to properly pay enormous amounts of mechanical royalties to countless songwriters for their compositions.

 

What it comes down to is this: when a streaming service adds a song to its library, it is required by law to pay two types of royalties for that song—one to the recording artist for the sound recording, and something called “mechanical royalties” for the composition paid to the songwriter. These mechanical royalties are the issue at play in this particular legal battle. Many songs obtained by streaming services do not arrive outfitted with all of the metadata needed to find the party owed mechanical royalties for the composition.

 

What companies like Spotify and Apple Music are facing now is the possibility that they have broken the law by not paying mechanical royalties for large swaths of music streamed on their platforms—a potentially devastating outcome.  If Spotify obtains a song but does not receive the information necessary to properly pay the mechanical royalties, is the company legally responsible? Does the impetus fall on the distribution companies who provide these songs to also provide all of the data for that music? And, perhaps more germane, if these companies are already streaming music for which they are not paying mechanical royalties, and they are ordered to cease and desist until all of these issues have been worked out, how will the way millions of consumers access their music be affected?

 

Recording artists vs. the free streaming model

 

The battle over publishing rights and mechanical royalties is not the only obstacle faced by services who stream music to their users. Recording artists have begun pushing back against these services for providing free access to their recordings as well. Major powerhouses like Adele, Taylor Swift and Coldplay have begun to insist that businesses like Spotify limit access to their music to only those members paying higher fees for premium and exclusive content. Currently, the business model for these companies is based on free, instant access to endless titles. If the likes of Swift and Adele have their way, this model will change, and unfettered access to this (now) exclusive content will only be possible if the consumer pays a fee. This is a drastic shift in the way users of these platforms will interact with music.

 

Who will budge?

 

Music technology has developed rapidly, and even though the consumer’s music experience has become more and more simplified and user-friendly, the guidelines and regulations surrounding who can and should profit from music remains mired in controversy. It can be complicated (for music consumers and music makers alike) to understand who exactly owes and is owed.

 

Streaming companies quickly made enormous amounts of music available to millions of users very quickly, but are now dealing with the ramifications of disorganization and possible negligence when it comes to making sure those with creative and legal rights to these compositions are being compensated. Industry giants are pushing back against the tide of digital sharing, and disrupting what has swiftly become a way of musical life to many consumers.

 

How will these separate but related challenges to the music industry’s status quo affect the way musicians reach their audiences?  How will it change the way consumers experience music? Some voices in the conversation say that those like Adele and Coldplay are being selfish, and resisting progress that has already taken place. Others advocate the rights of artists to profit from their intellectual property. What do you think? Leave a comment below and share your thoughts with us!

 

Big DataMusic Industry

At a conference dominated by futuristic gadgets, smart homes, and drones, there wasn’t much noise made by audio tech at CES 2016. Instead, products featured at this year’s showcase made a quiet shift and a giant leap towards optimizing and expanding the user’s experience. Data plays an important role in that effort, especially as we saw with Spotify. The innovations featured at CES this year indicate that the future of music is data-driven, high-resolution and affordable. So here’s what you need to know:

1. Data is driving user experience. Spotify is now using data to glean information about you, from your mood to where you are- so that it can tailor the music offerings and create an unparalleled musical experience. “If content is king, then context is God, If context is God then data is its religion,” Richard Frankel, Spotify’s CEO.

2. Prizm – the music brain. Heralding the return of the dedicated music player, Prizm is primed to disrupt the streaming audio scene. This music player alters your music experience by learning your preferences and adjusting to the room to tailor a completely personalized music experience.

3. Data + Marketing = Success. Big and small data can help you streamline your marketing efforts to reach a wider audience for your music. Find out what your customers want and use your data to help them.

4. Etymotic Earplugs – At only $19.95, these hi-fidelity ear buds are available now, affordable, and deliver sound quality previously unavailable at an everyday price point.

5. Smart Piano – One Music’s CES 2016’s Innovation Award winner, this smart piano connects to your device and helps you learn to play the piano with an interactive guitar-hero-like program. Piano teachers to novice students can learn something from this award-winning system.

In 2014, Americans spent an average of 25 hours per week listening to music. What the innovations in audio technology have shown us this year at CES 2016, is that the rapidly approaching future holds affordable, hi-res, musical experiences in almost every part of our lives. Here’s looking forward to new music tech in 2016!

While the digital music industry has made leaps and bounds over the past few years, it still fails to provide artists with easy access to real-time data regarding their listeners. Revelator, is working to change this.

In the 15 or so years of the Internet economy, the digital music industry has come a long way, but there are still major hurdles to cross. Platforms like iTunes, Spotify, and Google Play are major improvements over the early illegal file sharing days, but the multitude of service offerings and revenue models make it difficult to understand the true value of each and what they can deliver for musicians and music companies. These difficulties are further compounded by the fact that, according to a new study from the Berklee College of Music and its Rethink Music initiative, there are major transparency problems throughout the music industry caused by outdated technology.

In other areas of the Internet economy, online tools are data-driven and real-time, allowing professionals to make informed decisions based on accurate and up-to-date information. Unfortunately, these kinds of tools have not been widely adopted by the music industry thus far. This makes it difficult for labels and publishers to provide artists with timely and easily understandable data on track listens, revenue, accounting, and payments. In addition, labels and publishers are often unable to find the proper royalty recipient for music uses due to complicated and unclear songwriting credits and the lack of a standardized database that would make it easy for rights-holders to be identified. In short, the systems that exist today are not in the best interests of the industry at large.

However, by embracing current technology, forward-thinking labels, publishers, managers, artists, and other music professionals can improve data accessibility and transparency so that all sectors can enjoy the benefits of the digital revolution. When all members of the industry have the ability to make the best decisions possible based on a complete picture of consumption, accounting, payouts, and more, everyone wins.

Outdated technology

The main reason that labels are unable to share data with artists on a regular basis is that the current tools make tracking and reporting digital sales extremely difficult. The data comes from multiple sources and is stored in different formats. Labels must consolidate information from a variety of stores and services, both online and offline, and display it in a uniform formula. This is a major undertaking, which the labels must do at least twice a year, if not quarterly.

When the reports are produced, they appear in Excel format and are hard to understand. Artists, managers and other rights-holders are not necessarily able to decipher the calculation of their share, and all parties may have trouble gaining useful insights for future marketing efforts. However, with the right tools and real-time access, this data could be made actionable for artists and labels in determining where to tour or how to spend marketing dollars.

Lack of transparency in accounting

Another issue with the current system is that it relies too heavily on information held by record labels and provided to others only in a limited way and too infrequently. The audit trail of digital transactions is often unavailable to those outside the label, which has led to a history of non-auditable and unfair accounting practices. These include cross-collateralization and the practice of classifying streams as “performance,” leading to a lower royalty structure and casting a pall of distrust between labels and their artists. Lack of visibility also causes decreasing unit economics that put more pressure on cash flow and slow accounting periods based on outdated contractual terms.

Ownership of data

While there are many important problems related to revenue from streaming and downloads, it is even more crucial that we fix the current lack of transparency in regards to music data. Labels, publishers, managers, and artists don’t receive access to much of the data that is collected in the process of music sales. If a particular song is downloaded 1,000 times, 1,000 email addresses could have been collected from fans. Audience data is more valuable for future marketing campaigns than ever before, but online distributors, download stores, streaming services and other tech companies servicing the music industry almost always do not provide access to this information.

The Wall Street Journal emphasizes the importance of fan email addresses: “Industry-wide, the average fan email address has a value of about $3.78 in direct purchases from artists over the owner’s lifetime, according to new data from Topspin Media Inc., a six-year-old Santa Monica, Calif., company that manages online stores for more than 70,000 artists.” A Topspin analysis of five years’ worth of data revealed that fans acquired through widgets or purchases were nine times as likely to make a purchase from the same artist.

Purchase of music is not necessarily the end of the conversion funnel. Handled correctly, it can actually be the beginning of a long-term relationship between the artist and fans. When fan data is kept in the hands of technology companies, the only benefactor of this marketing bounty is the company itself. But if provided to the label, publisher, or artist, they can make use of that information in myriad ways. Instead of staying locked in to one particular service, they can move data to whichever service they choose. They can distribute content by newsletter to fans, adding value that will keep them interested and engaged. A loyal list of followers is also an excellent avenue for selling merchandise and pre-selling tickets, and extra-loyal fans can be treated to exclusive content and offers that make them feel like they are part of the artist’s family. All of these strategies are quite lucrative when implemented correctly, but are actionable only when the artist and their representatives have access to their fan base and a system in place to communicate with them.

Platforms like Facebook and YouTube are using audience data for ad revenue optimization. They are focused on reselling audience data to advertisers but are currently not providing it to users.

Wrongful claims

In addition, lack of transparency has created confusion in the tech marketplace regarding music rights, with some labels and aggregators claiming rights to compositions and collecting revenue from YouTube and other services without the knowledge or permission of the rights holders, who don’t know that revenue is being collected. For example, one artist had his music licensed for a CD book, which was posted on YouTube. YouTube then placed ads on all the videos in its platform that played the song and sent the revenue to the owner of the CD book rather than the original artist. This kind of mix-up is prevalent in the digital world, and without full transparency from technology companies and an easy way to determine who has a stake in the content they host, rights-holders are currently unable to fight it.

Revelator brings transparency to the music industry

However, there have been some positive developments. Recently, Revelator introduced a new end-to-end sales and marketing intelligence service that aims to bring transparency to the music industry and solve the current problems of distrust and lack of data by enabling the sharing and portability of data to all participants. The Revelator platform creates a level playing field for all the players involved, from artists to managers to labels and more, through:

● Real-time metrics/analytics – The Revelator Analytics dashboard automates all reporting of daily and monthly sales and streaming data, providing full transparency. The platform has the added benefit of providing real insights into the sales reports. Each report can be drilled down, so users can see clearly which stores – virtual or physical – brought in the most sales, which ad campaigns were the most successful, and which songs fared the best on which platforms. This is all valuable marketing information, which all parties can make use of. Revelator customers also have access to audience data such as email lists, engagement, and retention.

● Financial reporting – Revenue data from multiple sources is consolidated into one unified business dashboard that can be automatically shared with all parties on a daily, weekly, or monthly basis. A click of a button will allow labels, publishers, managers, artists, and more to see their respective shares immediately without the need to wait for a response. Increased visibility boosts trust between all those involved and decreases friction between parties.

● Marketing of content – The Revelator platform provides distributors of music with the ability to extract crucial marketing data and utilize it to determine actionable marketing efforts. Data can be used to build a relationship with current listeners and to make informed decisions on the best steps to reach new audiences.

● Distribution of music – Revelator offers music distribution to labels, managers, and independent artists to enable them to sell their digital content in top stores and services globally, representing an immediate cost savings of 20-30% of sales revenue. Partnership agreements with various digital music companies broaden the distribution of music on the Internet.

By embracing new technology like the Revelator platform, independent labels, distributors, artists and more can achieve full transparency throughout the entire process of production, marketing, and sales. This paves the way for collaboration and trust as well as informed decision-making on the part of all those involved in the music industry.