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Data usage: Future trends in the music industry

Two weeks ago took place the first edition of Measure of Music, a virtual three-day weekend program to give music industry stakeholders a crash course in music & data. Despite its initial statement, this conference represented an amazing opportunity even for veterans of the music industry. While major labels and tech companies are actively using data to gain insights and improve their decision-making, smaller entities or specific sectors have been more resistant to adopting such analytical resources.

After all, the creation of specializsed roles like data scientist and data analyst are relatively new in the entertainment sector, so demand for such specialists has only started booming in the last couple of years.  However, in parallel, data accessibility is becoming significantly user-friendlier. Expert-level skills are no longer required to process datasets, making it easier for music entrepreneurs, independent labels, managers, and artists to achieve outstanding results through data usage.

Thanks to the high profile guests and speakers involved, it was possible to get a sense of what had changed over the past months, and what to expect for the future of data in the music industry.

All information is already on the internet

Computer and guitar
Data usage in the music industry

Although this might come as an obvious statement, data usage was one of the most precious pieces of advice to come from this conference. The latest technological advancements and accessibility improvements have created limitless resources that can be easily implemented by everyone. No technical or strong analytical background is needed. From free APIs to affordable services, it is possible to access countless datasets like audio analysis of a specific song or monitoring the airplay of radios from all over the world (exactly what we do here at WARM).

There’s no shortage of data points, and history has proven that artists and companies that can enforce a strategy based on the smart use of data are able to thrive, even during difficult times. It’s like having a massive pile of Lego bricks: it is up to you to select the right pieces and put them together to form your final insights.

Local markets have unique dynamics (and data can help you understand them)

The industry is often guilty of focusing on top markets such as the US, UK, and Germany, snubbing what’s happening abroad. While it is understandable- after all, they’re the wealthiest markets- globalisation is changing this paradigm, exposing listeners to music from all over the world. For instance, the rise in popularity of Korean and African pop. These two phenomenons are only the tip of the iceberg as emerging markets are becoming increasingly relevant in today’s global landscape.

WizKid, Nigerian singer-songwriter

Despite all this, local markets still have their unique dynamics linked to cultural, economic, and even geographical factors. And it’s fundamental to understand these dynamics before implementing any type of strategy, either if you’re in the pursuit to become the next big superstar or to choose where to place your songs on the radio and boost your career.

Let’s take a look at the dynamic in Africa. Did you know that for many African countries like Nigeria, for instance, traditional radio is still one of the most popular ways to listen to music? Support from DJs and local stations is a necessary step for any artist with international aspirations, and only once they have secured a spot in the Nigerian charts they know they have the right cards for making it internationally. Monitoring the quick rise of an emerging artist on radio charts can represent a powerful tool for A&Rs since it can potentially reveal the next WizKid or Burna Boy.

In past articles, we highlighted how even the single of an international artist can be received very differently from country to country. Data can be extremely useful to understand these unique factors and gain insight into the internal dynamics of a country, even without having a physical presence in the territory.

A powerful synergy between live music and recorded music

Post Malone at the Pokemon Concert
Virtual Post Malone at the Pokemon Concert

2020 (and even 2021 so far) was a challenging year for live music hitting hard musicians as well as many types of businesses connected to live performances. The necessity of going digital and implementing live streams has had a positive effect on generating massive amounts of data for artists, companies, and management firms. In the past, the live and recorded sectors have been considered two separate entities with very limited interaction, if not outright competitors.

But nowadays cooperation can be beneficial for both parties. Exchanging datasets and finding patterns in the music consumers’ habits could enact a powerful synergy, unveiling new strategies and business opportunities. Measuring a rise in streams in specific countries after a concert announcement could allow a touring manager to adapt the tour accordingly, and even more, outright plan a tour based on the music listened to in a specific city.

The increasing cross-pollination between music and other industries

This analysis was made using WARM. By exploring our data you are able to make in-depth analyses that will give you a clearer overview of the market. Knowing when and where your music is being played will allow you to discover emerging markets, insightful data about your fanbase, and plan your promotion and PR strategies more efficiently. Furthermore, you will have access to certified data to collect your royalties. Get started with WARM now and don't miss out on any opportunity!

Computer WARM Dashboard
WARM Dashboard: Market coverage view of "Circles" by Post Malone

With a growing record of proven success (and the latest example of Post Malone’s Virtual Concert for Pokemon Anniversary), the partnership between gaming and music is set to become a standard in the very next future.

After all, the giant of gaming Epic Games has proved multiple times (with Marshmello, Travis Scott, and more recently with BTS) that these partnerships are beneficial not only for promotion, but also to gain additional insights for your audience. Looking specifically at BTS, their primary audience is female, 18-24, and mostly based in Asia. Therefore, the partnership with Fortnite represented an interesting test on an untapped market, since the game’s users are mostly male, 18 or younger. Looking at the data before and after the event, an artist could understand how many players (that previously were difficult to reach) transformed into new fans. 

While the big players have finally understood this industry’s value, new types of partnerships will likely emerge, especially in the tech industry. The recent craze around NFTs unveiled some exciting potential for companies and artists to timely intercept new trends, sparkling the collaboration between new and unusual sectors.

So what should we music entrepreneurs do next?

The value and usage of data are set to keep growing. Better to jump on board now before it’s too late!

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