As the use of big data as a marketing tool gains speed in music industry, Natasha Lane here explores in depth the definition of big data, and how it applies to music itself, and the marketing strategy implemented for said music.
Guest post by Natasha Lane
We live in an age of information overload. Every time you go on the internet, your devices produce huge amounts of data that contain your actions, locations, preferences, etc. It is said that users create around 2.5 quintillion (that’s 1 followed by 18 zeros) bytes of data in total on a daily basis. This constitutes what people refer to as big data. Analyzing this type of data can help companies create more effective ads and make better campaigns. This marketing concept is slowly entering the world of music, as well, and many successful companies and artists actually rely on big data and analytics. In case you want to get in on it, we’re going to show you just how it works and what are the benefits.
The Definition of Big Data
One of the main problems with big data is its definition. Some people believe that it is a rather arbitrary and loose term, but no one dares deny its importance. Gartner technically defines this term as:
Big data is high-volume, high-velocity and/or high-variety information assets that demand cost-effective, innovative forms of information processing that enable enhanced insight, decision making, and process automation.
The most important distinction between big and regular data is that the former can’t be analyzed with normal processors because of the sheer volume and complexity.
Big Data and Music
OK, so what does big data have to do with music and how can it be applied in the music industry? Well, it seems that big data analysis might be the most reliable way to assess the popularity of songs and artists.
Well, back in the 1950s, charts relied mainly on the number of sold albums and these stats weren’t actually that reliable. Radio DJs basically chose the tracks on their own accord and these tracks became the most played ones. The things changed at the start of the 1990s thanks to Billboard’s use of a new technology called Soundscan. An article by Emmanuel Legrand notes:
Based on purchases scanned at till level, the system could for the first time measure actual sales. It transformed the music landscape in the USA by showing that music genres such country, R&B or rap were far more popular than previous charts showed, to the detriment of “heritage” acts whose performances dwindled.
Now, however, big data offers an even better insight into people’s music choices. Companies can now collect precise information about user’s listening habits and calculate the true popularity of songs.
Take Shazam, for example, a popular app that helps you identify the song from a recording. According to its owner, this was one of the 10 most popular apps in the world in 2013. However, this is not the only thing it does. The app also tracks all the songs that are being searched for and compares them to various reviews in order to monitor the popularity and predict the next great hit. This is just one example of how this new technology can be used in music.
Then there’s Pandora, a music-streaming service that tracks the user’s preferences and suggests similar songs he might like. This involves a complex process of analyzing each song to find its “DNA” and comparing their numerous attributes.
Because Pandora is available on everything from car stereos to mobile phones, the music people choose to listen to at different times of the day and on different devices can be radically different from each other. [...] It’s Pandora’s job to incorporate things like the time of day to a user’s listening preferences and ensure that the next song on the playlist is one they’ll love.
Pandora is yet another example of the potential big data has in the music industry.
Big Data and Marketing
The question, you’re probably asking yourself, though, is - what is the point of it? Why would you even need to waste your time with this heap of data? How can it improve your marketing ventures?
Well, based on your needs, we can recognize different types of big data analyses. A well-known website that deals with simple explanations of complex concepts, Dummies, states there are 4 main types:
- Basic analytics that allows you to check the state of things and visualize your marketing efforts.
- Advanced analytics that offers some predictions and might help you streamline your campaigns.
- Operationalized analytics that becomes a part of your business plan.
- Monetized analytics that is supposed to help increase your revenues.
Of course, in order to be successful, you need to make sure that the analysis is done properly. Thanks to the sudden popularity of this technology, there are now numerous specialized big data marketing agencies that will do the heavy lifting for you and present you with the results. You can use their findings to work on improving your campaigns, or perhaps finding new target audience.
The Future of Big Data Analytics
So, all this being said, what is the future of big data analytics? Well, the fact is that the amount of data people produce on a daily basis keeps increasing every year. This means that the music marketing will be able to personalize music experience even more and focus on the right target audience. This will help both old and new artists reach their fans.
Up and coming artists have always had a difficult job finding their target audience. But now, with the use of data and analytics, it will be much easier to pinpoint how to reach those audiences, which ones to avoid entirely, and the most effective route to get there. Big Data provides similar advantages to established artists but more importantly, it helps these well-known musicians stay relevant to their demographic and, possibly, build new audiences they would have never been aware of before.
The same can be applied to marketing. If the artist knows who his target audience is and if he is able to single them out from the crowd, his promotion will go a lot smoother and be a lot more successful. Besides that, big data research will help recognize the current and upcoming music trends so the artist can adapt his tunes accordingly. Although we have yet to see everything that big data has in store for us, it’s potential is undeniable and quite mesmerizing. There is no doubt that you’ll find a way to employ this technique in the future.