Over the past ten years the music industry has changed drastically. Record labels have lost substantial power in building, promoting, and sustaining artists’ careers. There are millions of independent artists, in addition to the vast amount of professional musicians, located throughout the United States. This sizeable amount of artists has made it increasingly difficult for artists, their management, and record labels to reach potential consumers. The extremely aggressive nature of the music industry has created an elevated need for all aspiring and professional musicians to develop strategic competitive advantages. One method of creating this is through the utilization and interpretation of the data provided by analytics. Analytics helps artists obtain insights into their fans’ and potential consumers’ behavior. Therefore, the artists who possess the best consumer behavior data will have a greater understanding of their audience and will ultimately have greater potential to become market leaders in their respective genres.
Analytics, simply defined, is the collection and analysis of website user data to drive business decisions. Utilizing web analytics is a three-pronged process. It involves: (1) collecting statistical data from an artist’s website (or social networking sites), (2) interpreting that data, and then (3) applying that data to formulate decisions (concerning content improvements, marketing and promotional efforts, and ultimately how to generate higher returns on investment).
The purpose of employing an analytics strategy is to gain a better definition of an artist’s digital consumer base. Analytics helps reduce some of the guesswork that is undertaken when attempting to determine fans’ behaviors. It tells the story of the who, what, where, when, and why of how an artist’s following interacts with the artist’s products (which are key factors in developing any effective marketing strategy). One of the major components when promoting and selling any type of product or service is knowing how consumers behave. Possessing a deeper understanding of the consumer helps to define what their needs and desires are (based on their personalities, lifestyles, socio-economic, ethnic, and cultural backgrounds) and illustrates how these factors drive their purchasing decisions. Having a true understanding of an artist’s consumers allows for marketing and promotional efforts to become more targeted and effective, which can help increase sales, and can drive consumer base growth.
Analytics provides in-depth statistical evidence about the visitors of the artist’s digital properties. It supplies demographic and geographic information, as well as, displays data about how they accessed the site, which in turn provides further insight into their purchasing behavior. Analytics also provides visitor site usage data. It presents information regarding the average time they spent on the artist’s website, how long after entering the site they left (bounce rate), and which pages on the site obtain the most traffic. Tracking analytics data also enables one to find errors (which shows issues that visitors experienced while utilizing the site), determine the effectiveness (or ineffectiveness) of adding new or additional content to the site, and displays which products have the highest conversion rates (visits/sales). It also allows for an extensive evaluation of whether or not the artist’s digital properties are improving their overall business.
The interpretation of analytics data illustrates what factors drive fans’ behavior, in addition to depicting how this knowledge can be used to benefit the artist’s career. Monitoring data derived from analytics can help identify cross-promotional and selling opportunities and also helps one determine whether marketing and promotional efforts are (or aren’t) working as anticipated.
The most commonly used analytics software is Google Analytics. It is installed on the artist’s personal website and gathers all the data listed above. Facebook fan pages and MySpace artist pages also have analytics tools, which are built into the pages themselves. Facebook and MySpace’s analytics tools are called “Insights” and “Artist Dashboard,” respectively. Twitter, the third most popular social networking site does not have a dedicated Twitalytics (Twitter Analytics) program. However, there are three extremely useful Twitalytics web applications (TweetEffect, TweetStats, and Twitter Analyzer) that provide a wide range of data collected from the artist’s Twitter followers.
Analytics is not a buzzword. In the music industry, it facilitates wiser decisions regarding the kinds of marketing, touring, and promotional efforts that should be undertaken, it helps with the determination of the appropriate campaign launch timing, in addition to aiding in the evaluation of the artist’s product and service offerings (whether they should stay the same, be expanded upon, or be re-developed).
Major companies in the music industry (like TopSpin, The Orchard, Big Champagne, The Echo Nest, and Rock Dex) recognize the high value of analytical data, when it comes to assisting artists’ careers, and consequently have implemented their own artist-centric and analytics assistance programs. These programs facilitate the proper utilization of the data, so that the artist can effectively increase and further develop the artist-fan relationship. Analytics is a serious market research strategy that can give an artist an immense competitive advantage over their peers. Analytics is a driving force behind all intelligent decisions made throughout the business world. It is because of this that all aspiring and professional musicians, who are interested in having an edge over their competition, should invest in an analytics campaign.
To view the version of this article that was published in ASCAP’s Playback Magazine please click the following link: Published ASCAP Article in Playback Magazine.