Tied to the publication of the new report from British industry bodies ERA and BPI (Magic Numbers: How Can Data & Analytics Really Help The Music Industry?) and written by Music Ally, an afternoon of presentations and panel discussion on the current state of music analytics / data and their future was held at the BPI’s office in London yesterday (9 July).
Lucy Blair, from the artist and label marketing team at Spotify UK, opened with a presentation on what the streaming service is doing in terms of data access to artists, labels and managers as well as where it is evolving next.
“There were more than 100 updates in a few months last year,” she revealed of the data tools Spotify opens to registered partners. Blair worked through the range of data sets open up to the music industry, giving tips on how best to read them and indicating what are the most accurate metrics of success and engagement.
This was followed by a short set of presentations from key analytics and data platforms about what they do and how they are bending to fit the industry’s needs.
Conrad Withey of Instrumental explained why his company is not an A&R tool but rather is a scouting tool, showing how it can match new acts with the music industry. He gave the example of Callum Scott’s cover of ‘Dancing On My Own’ and why labels were initially resistant to what the data was showing them.
Scott was deemed an unattractive signing as he was on TV show Britain’s Got Talent, and his track was a cover. It did, however, prove a massive streaming success. “Prejudice is getting in the way of opportunity,” was how Withey dismissed the industry’s initial reluctance to believe the data it was being shown.
Chaz Jenkins of Chartmetric talked of the old way the industry was run – where data was limited, late and local. This was fine when the average music purchase in the past was two records a year but things are so much different now as consumers tot up on average 19,200 listens per year.
This is where data can really step in, with Jenkins saying each of those generates a data point and links to other data sources. “Consumers are making decisions en masse that we [the industry] used to make for them,” he said, but he warned against becoming too romantic about the mythical “golden eras” of the music industry in 2018. “Even human curation is not that human,” he said. “Curators are informed by algorithms.”