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Music Data Analytics: How Musicians Can Leverage Big Data

Are you familiar with your music data analytics? 

Ever wonder how musicians can leverage big data to achieve exposure and become discovered online?

Oil was once the world’s most valuable asset — but today, many experts say oil has taken a back seat and is being replaced with data. 

Through the apps we use and the sites we frequent, this claim is justified by the role data plays in all of our lives. 

Apple, Google, and Facebook are some of the few major players in the data industry that create products we all rely on daily and are therefore controlling the majority of the world’s data flow — this large volume of data is known as big data.

This may be a confusing concept to grasp, especially for someone who specializes in creating music and not analyzing data.

But no matter what industry you work in, it is so important to understand how data is used — this article will explain everything in a way that is easy to digest, so you have the power to use data in ways to connect with your existing fans and find new ones.

Music Data Analytics

Out with the old, in with the new

Two decades ago, the world was a very different place. Cell Phones were only used to talk and text, WiFi was not widely-used, and information was stored on floppy disks or USB drives. 

Now, most data is stored in the cloud — a method used by most of the world’s population, but fully understood by few — which is an example of how the world has evolved alongside technological advancements.

Before the prevalence of the internet or big data, musicians achieved exposure by holding events in venues, investing in extravagant promotional campaigns, achieving radio deals with their label, hiring a PR and/or communications manager, and purchasing television ads. 

Record labels still turn to these approaches to gain the attention of an audience and catapult their artists to stardom.

Some of the biggest names in music such as The Beatles, Whitney Houston, David Bowie, Britney Spears, and Queen rose to popularity because of these promotional campaigns, and are still relevant to this day.

However, these methods were not as viable for the everyday artist who didn’t have the backing of a label.

Music Industry Evolution

As the music industry evolved alongside the digital revolution, with streaming replacing physical CDs, a reckoning took place which dated these expensive promotional practices. 

As the world learned to understand the power of the internet and big data, musicians — whether they were independent or with a label — realized that they have access to the same tools and data, and eventually lead to the democratization of the music industry and the prevalence of musicians choosing to go independent.

Along with other technological advancements, big data is to thank for the introduction of many different genres. Alongside the invention of applications that allowed musicians to create innovative sounds through new forms of music production and gave way to more accessible ways for musicians to share their music with the world. 

So while an artist’s goal may have once been to sign to a record label to achieve wealth and fame, resources such as digital marketing have made it possible for musicians to climb the charts and reach higher levels of success independently.

Data — the world’s most valuable asset

Through the apps you use, the stores you purchase from, and the websites you visit — your data is collected and can be used in ways without your knowledge. 

Through various ways in the physical and digital world, you are leaving a digital footprint that benefits both companies and advertisers by giving them the ability to structure an idea of your interests and habits online. 

The prevalence of big data companies like Facebook (that owns Instagram), Amazon (that owns Twitch), and Google (that owns YouTube), is changing the way we look at the world and is part of the reason why data has become this planet’s most valuable asset.

Every time a song is streamed on Spotify, a video is watched on YouTube, or a post is liked on Instagram, that data makes up one of the millions of bits of data that are collected by record labels and musicians every single minute. 

Over time, this data can be analyzed and used by the music industry to understand an artists’ existing audience and find ways to attract new fans. This has been made possible due to big data companies that have control over this flow of data, and the strategic ways they have sold access to its users’ data that powers digital marketing.

>>> Related Reading: 6 Important Music Metrics That Actually Matter

Scaling Things Down

Using the same practices as large companies do, just on a smaller scale, independent musicians have the power to collect data from their audience to make decisions about their music and strengthen their marketing plans. 

Of course, this data is not as intricate as the massive amounts of data collected by Facebook or Google but can be useful when establishing a target audience — for musicians, the two sets of data to collect include customer data and online user activity.

If you have ever signed up for an email newsletter on an artist’s website, you contributed to an artists’ customer data. This data is made up of names, email addresses, and physical addresses that could be used to target advertisements and build a strong customer base. 

Using existing data from big data companies such as Facebook, Spotify, and Google, musicians can track the online user activity of people who have interacted with their content. 

This can help artists to calculate the cost that it takes to generate a sale or acquire a fan through digital advertisements, and understand which forms of digital content are the most effective for your platforms.

Once a musician has accumulated data on their audience across various social media platforms, it is easier to convert them to become a returning customer. 

Every marketing campaign should serve a purpose, whether you are trying to promote your album or advertise an upcoming concert, each campaign can have a greater purpose that grows overtime — finding and establishing a loyal audience.

>>> Related Reading: 11 Reasons Why Musicians Fail On Social Media, And How To Avoid Their Mistakes

Using data to turn a stranger into a fan

Have you ever come across an ad for something you were just thinking about or recently looking at online? 

Have you ever discovered a song or musician online a couple of months before one of their songs went viral or they were discovered by a large music blog? 

If you frequently use social media, chances are the answer is “yes” — but this did not happen by accident.

Initially, upon understanding how these practices work, the power of big data could sound scary or like an infringement of privacy. 

But since using these platforms doesn’t cost much or any money to use in most cases, users are paying platforms like Facebook and Google with your data. 

Through accessing these large databases of user activity, musicians can craft various ads and target certain individuals to analyze how the public reacts to their music.

Valuable Data

By using the services built by companies like Apple, Google, and Facebook, your data is used to make the company’s money which therefore makes them more valuable. 

To earn money, they sell the ability to predict your future activity online by allowing other companies and businesses to access your data on the platform — and as a musician, you can also use this data to market your music and build an audience.

From the biggest record labels to emerging independent artists, advances in technology and the emergence of big data have completely revolutionized the music industry. 

When used correctly, musicians can leverage big data to build targeted audiences to advertise to that are disguised as organic posts. 

And since data learns and improves as you collect more information to analyze, the more frequently a musician implements data practices in their marketing plan the more accurate and effective their data becomes.

People enjoy the feeling of discovering an artist before anyone else, and flashy advertisements violate this principle. 

Real Life Examples

To avoid this, your advertisements should aim to introduce your music to a stranger to give them the impression that they are discovering you, and avoid giving them the impression that they are being advertised to.

For a visual example, let’s look at this Instagram ad from singer-songwriter Maggie Rogers:

Maggie Rogers Facebook Ads Content
Maggie Rogers Facebook Ads Stats
Maggie Rogers Facebook Ads Geography

The ad is promoting a graceful live performance of her song ‘Back In My Body’ for the 2020 National Democratic Convention, while also plugging her debut album. 

Notice how the ad looks just like an organic post that Maggie would post on her Instagram — the caption is informal, succinct, and personable with a few added emojis while also including all of the information about what she is promoting. 

Facebook and Instagram grant advertisers like Maggie Rogers the ability to run ads that look like posts — so even though the post looks like an organic post and directly links to Maggie’s profile, the advertiser has the ability to control whether the ad is from an existing post or just a standalone ad that won’t exist on their profile.

These targeted ads can help established artists like Maggie Rogers engage their existing audience and even increase their fanbase by reaching users that have not or don’t frequently interact with Maggie on social media. 

Even just after running this ad, Maggie’s team will have access to new audience data which can be used to analyze the online behavior of her existing fans and work towards increasing her fanbase.

So not only can this data be used to build a strategy to build a fanbase from scratch, but it can also be used to connect with your existing fans as well. 

Bringing It All Together

Whether you are using Facebook Ads or analyzing your Spotify analytics, you can fuse existing user data in your marketing plan to promote concerts or a music release. 

If you are using Facebook, you have the power to target different ads to people that follow you and people that don’t so it looks like an organic post — pretty crazy, huh?

Obviously, a good ad or marketing plan is nothing without something worth advertising — so before structuring a plan to cultivate an audience online, nurturing your creativity and investing in creating your music should take priority over everything.

But first, the most essential thing — believing in yourself

Without sounding too corny, you must believe in yourself throughout all stages of your career. Even though big data and the platforms that control the data have an impact on your success, your music should always come first. 

Practices that are powered by big data (audience targeting, location analytics, and digital marketing) should be a priority for a successful digital marketing campaign, but that campaign can only be successful if your music is “good” enough for people to be interested in listening to your music.

Before you purchase ads or use your audience data to make decisions about any aspect of your career, you must take the time to ensure you believe in yourself and your art. 

Instead of putting data and technology at the forefront of your music career, think of ways that big data and technology can work in synergy with your music.

Understand Where You Are At

If you are at the point in your career where you are still figuring out who you are and what you have to say as a musician, creating a standard ad based on some data is not enough to propel your career towards superstardom. 

Instead, you must find ways to use the data available to you to amplify your music and find ways that would make others fall in love with you and your music — to do this, you should come at everything you do through the viewpoint of your biggest fan. 

This is easier said than done, but without establishing this, your ads or digital campaigns will not be successful, no matter how much money you invest in them.

Keeping The Momentum Going

Additionally, once you have established a solid foundation of audience data, you cannot stop there. It’s vital to keep utilizing the data that is available and keep up a consistent flow of content across your social platforms to keep your audience entertained. 

Spending a ton of money on ads may lead to organic interaction on some of your recent songs, but leveraging your data to achieve repeat customers can lead to a loyal fanbase.

Maintaining your artistic integrity and building a loyal and trustworthy relationship with the people that follow you should always be your main priority — not achieving a ton of streams on Spotify or likes on Instagram. 

So before plugging the numbers and putting all your energy into engagement on social media, prioritize the things that make you (and your music) unique from anyone else. 

By doing so, your digital marketing and data sets won’t serve as a crutch for your career, but the boost your need to thrust your music into the world.

Final Thoughts on Music Data Analytics

There are many places to find and collect your existing audience data including Spotify, Instagram, and Apple Music. 

You already have access to this data, and can begin to keep track of it. You can also pay “big data” companies like Facebook and Google to access some of their user data to target your advertisements and hopefully build your audience.

Through Music With Flavor’s database, we have all of the juicy tips to bring you up to speed on how to access your audience data and how you can implement it in your marketing to amplify your music.

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