Guest Post by Glenn Peoples of Pandora
The key takeaway:
Gucci Mane’s “takeover” campaign at Pandora's The ATL station led to a 45-percent increase in artist station adds, a metric that tracks the times listeners use an artist’s music as seeds for new stations.
In music, step #2 is getting somebody to hear your song. Step #3 is getting that person to listen to that song again, or listen to your other songs. Step 1 is creating the awareness and interest that gets you to step 2. Of course, personalized Internet radio can help you skip step #1 (an algorithm does it for you) in some cases, but overall it’s a vital step.
One type of campaign seems to always drive consumer interest and awareness: the “takeover,” a special event where an artist commandeers a radio or TV station (MTV’s TRL and the Fuse TV’s Artist Takeover Mondays, for example) to discuss music (usually a new album), perhaps delve into personal topics, and/or play DJ by introducing songs. The takeover provides valuable impressions on any platform. What sets Internet radio takeovers apart are the absence of an artist’s time constraints (24/7 programing) and the ability to precisely measure the results (not possible at broadcast radio and TV).
And so the recent takeover of a Pandora station by rapper Gucci Mane provides a good opportunity to examine its effects at Internet radio. For 15 days from July into August, The ATL, a station dedicated to Atlanta hip hop and R&B, focused on Gucci’s new album Everybody Looking, while interspersing segments of Gucci talking about the album, the Atlanta music scene, his creative process and other topics. Songs that featured Gucci were also added to the rotation. The programming caused Gucci’s share of station plays rose to 7 percent from 1 percent.
The takeover provided a bump to a key metric: the number of people with a Gucci Mane station at Pandora. During the 15-day campaign, the number of new Gucci Mane stations jumped 45 percent compared to the previous 15 days. As explained below, a new station add is the creation of a Pandora station based on a particular artist, album or song.
It’s important to separate organic growth from inorganic growth. After all, artist stations are likely to grow simply with the release of a new album. So how well would Gucci’s metrics have grown without the campaign (the organic growth) compared to his metrics with the campaign (both organic and inorganic growth)? To estimate the organic growth I looked at a comparable group of 11 rappers’ and tracked their upticks in their artist stations around the time of a new release. This group of artists (Drake, Yo Gotti, Future and others) was chosen due to (a) their music’s close relation to Gucci’s music, according to Pandora’s Music Genome, and (b) the recent release dates of their latest albums (within the last year give or take a few months).
Recall that Gucci’s new artist station adds increased 45 percent over 15 days. The 11 comparable artists averaged growth of 21 percent—just under half of Gucci’s growth rate. Only Drake’s 53-percent gain following the release ofViews was greater. Put another way, the release of Everybody Watching could reasonably have been expected to increase Gucci’s artist station adds 21 percent over 15 days. The ATL takeover would have doubled it.
The new artist station add is an important metric. It means a listener has created a station based on a particular artist and, most importantly, signals the listener wants to hear more of that artist’s songs. For example, if you’re listening to The Beatles and you start a new station based on the band, you’ve now got a station that’s going to play you such artists as Credence Clearwater Revival, The Rolling Stones and Queen — and you’ll hear more Beatles songs, too. Just as a Facebook “like” is an indication of interest, so too is the artist station.
In reality, the takeover’s impact was far greater. This analysis focused just on one metric. Much more happened. Gucci recorded artist audio messages heard by 1.5 million listeners encouraging them to buy the album and single, “First Day Out Tha Feds.” Listeners undoubtedly started stations from one of Gucci’s songs. They probably thumbed his songs, too. And they listened his music.