Pandora owned data music aggregator Next Big Sound has added Weekly Performance insights to its free analytics toolkit. It is designed to give artists context to their data including how they are performing compared to other artists with similar sized audiences on the same platforms.
Next Big Sounds' new Weekly Performance reports currently draw data from Pandora, Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.
Unfortunately, because Next Big Sound is owned by Pandora, the analytics will likely never include data from Spotify, Apple Music and other streaming competitors. That doesn't make Next Big Sound's data tools unuseful, however. Far from it.
Here is an example provided by NBS:
"Kero Kero Bonito is a U.K. band. Back in February, we were looking at their engagement metrics, and one stuck out in particular. They saw 146 Twitter mentions, which was down 76% compared to the previous week.
This is a very standard way to visualize data. One value represents the engagement for that week, and the percent change shows the comparison between that week and the previous one. By looking at just this, things didn’t look too good for our band. They were down 76%.
Percent change can be useful, in some cases. But there are two limitations to keep in mind:
- You’re only looking at yourself. There’s no benchmark, no context.
- Percent change cannot always be positive. Even Beyoncé had seen a decline in Twitter mentions the week after she released Lemonade. Why? The post that announced Lemonade saw so much engagement, that any post afterwards paled in comparison.
So while a red down arrow on a dashboard may feel pretty negative, it doesn’t necessarily need to be. And the only way to know is to look at this number in context of other artists in the music industry.
The science behind the curtain
To add context to Kero Kero Bonito’s numbers, we have to dive into the science behind Weekly Performance.
To get an idea how unusual BTS’s engagement of 61M Twitter mentions for 13M followers is, we note that the second highest number of Twitter mentions for a band with a similar following size to BTS (12–14 million followers) was just 300,000 Twitter mentions. BTS outperformed the artist with the next highest engagement by a factor of 200! That shows just how passionate K-pop fans are.
BTS’s engagement level is so unusual that it is way outside the normal range of behavior. If we moved the upper red line of our model up to include BTS, we’d extend everyone else’s expected range, just to fit one extremely unusual band inside the model, and it would look like every other artist in the world is failing to perform well on Twitter. Drake included.
As soon as we stopped looking at a number on its own, the story becomes much different. It actually tells us the opposite. At first we thought Kero Kero Bonito might not have been doing well, seeing their 76% decrease from the previous week. But in the context of looking at other artists with 26K Twitter Followers, we see that their fans are much more engaged than what is typically expected. Kero Kero Bonito is doing exactly what they should be doing to engage with their fans.
At Next Big Sound, we strongly believe that numbers can only start to make sense given the right context. Weekly Performance now allows us to help artists look at their numbers in context of artists with similarly-sized audiences. You don’t have to look at your numbers in silo anymore."