Imogen Heap's use of collaborative and crowdsourced approaches as an element in her music makes her a unique figure in popular music. So when she decided to survey her fans it's not surprising that she focused on their relationship to her music rather than on information that might aid her in identifying appropriate merch to release or sponsorships to seek. Her survey was conducted by YouGov, a UK-based leader in market research and public opinion.
The results of the survey, which began in late 2010, were released last month. The survey was designed for Imogen Heap to:
"discover how her fans first came into contact with her work, when, how and why they enjoy her music, and what it is about Heap fans as individuals that mean they connect with her sound."
Imogen Heap - Xizi She Knows
In addition to gathering basic demographic information such as age, gender and location, the survey revealed such insights as:
- How her fans discovered her.
- Which song was their favorite.
- How familiar they were with her music and related activities.
- What musical formats they prefer.
- How involved fans were in making music themselves.
The survey even included the question, "Do you usually spring out of bed or hit snooze?" For most musicians this might be just a fun addition to a survey but, for Imogen Heap. it's information that may well resurface in her work at a later date.
In an interview with Caspar Llewellyn Smith of The Guardian, Heap stated:
"I wanted to know where they are, their age group, how they found out about the Heapsongs – because it's not the radio...I want to know the sort of projects that they're most interested in, and I'll plug all the information back into my website."
In the interview, which is a great introduction to some of her working methods, she also discusses how the above video, Xizi She Knows, was created during a working visit to Hangzhou in China:
"I wanted to combine the sorts of things that happen there every day with different media and art forms. We filmed the whole thing and then I drew on all the sounds for my latest Heapsong."
"We went into a primary school class, where the children were doing their eye exercises, and the teacher giving them their instructions gave us our tempo. The sound of the newspaper printing presses – that became the beat. And we caught this woman who heads up this huge hill to a temple every day at sunrise and screams at the top of her lungs, so the sound of that is now in the middle section of the song."
If Imogen Heap does a future survey that includes a Chinese translation, it will be interesting to find out how her music is being received there.
Hypebot Features Writer Clyde Smith maintains his freelance writing hub at Flux Research and music industry resources at Music Biz Blogs. To suggest topics for Hypebot, contact: clyde(at)fluxresearch(dot)com.