Come Together: Why The Music Industry Must Break Down Data Silos
In this article, Jeppe Faurfelt breaks down the different data silos which industry artists should be keeping track of, why the distinction between them is so important, and why everyone on an artist's team should have access to all of them.
Guest post by Jeppe Faurfelt, Co-Founder & CCO at Linkfire
Recently, I had the opportunity to moderate a panel at Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit in New York City, where I was able to ask representatives from the label, artist management, and advertising technology sectors about how they use artist data, what they need going forward, and why all business arms around an artist must work collaboratively to leverage data to drive better decisions and marketing, The answer quickly became clear: everyone wants and needs a 360-degree, holistic view of the artists they are working with. While we are making great strides in this endeavor, obtaining such a complete picture remains impossible today.
In some cases, artist data is kept in separate siloes or black boxes that lead to dead ends, hindering all sides’ ability to make informed decisions. At Linkfire, we believe that everyone on an artist’s team should have access to all the data about that artist, and we live that philosophy by both including all available services in the globally fragmented marketplace in our smart links and by making available as many data points on a fan’s journey as we possibly can. However, in many cases, we can only tell artists and their teams how many fans we delivered to the digital service providers (DSPs); we can’t tell you what they do once they’re inside. It is the DSPs that hold the key to unlock these conversion metrics.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the state of artist data in a variety of fields, examine the progress we have made in several key areas, and see where we still need to break down the walls.
Merch sales data has always been fairly accessible to artist teams, as most of it is done direct-to-consumer (D2C) on artist websites or at live shows. In the past few years, the ability to look at this data and understand what activities and audiences drive revenue has led to substantial growth. The enabler for this is having insights into the entire consumer funnel from start to finish and beyond. That means artist team members can see everything fans looked at before arriving at their choice, providing insight into the types of merch people are most interested in, where to place key items on the page to ensure the most views, and what items may need to be placed on sale or reduced in price to maximize sales and avoid cart abandonment.
In addition to this, standalone merch platforms are now beginning to open up their conversion data. For example, Merchbar has partnered with Linkfire to allow users to see what fans do in their platform after clicking on our smart links, giving artists a more transparent view of their fans’ purchase journey.
On my Sandbox Summit panel, everyone agreed that it can be difficult to get granular data from ticket providers. To their credit, they have started to pay attention to calls to open up their conversions. At Linkfire, we’ve been working with TicketMaster and Eventbrite to allow artists to track a consumer from an off-platform activity, such as clicking on an advertisement, to the purchase of a ticket. This makes it possible for marketers to make informed decisions on how much to spend and track the impact of their efforts. It’s a great start, but what we really need is for everyone to have access to and leverage each others’ audiences across the board. If we can do that, it will eventually drive even more sales to the ticket sellers and help drive new listeners to streaming services, a mutually beneficial result if I ever heard one.
This is the big one. Arguably the biggest challenge in the music industry for the past 3-4 years is that even though a lot of music services allow access to their data, they are not necessarily allowing access to all of it. It’s still a siloed industry, and we see it as a very interesting challenge but also an opportunity to bring off-platform and on-platform activities together. Today, Linkfire has attribution data partnerships with services like Pandora, iHeartRadio, and other market-specific DSPs like Anghami, Boomplay, Claromusica, and Qobuz, but we want to partner with as many DSPs as possible to make streaming marketing much more transparent and efficient. Spotify and Apple Music are starting to make progress in this area with Spotify for Artists and Apple Music for Artists,, but there is much still hidden behind the door. On-platform streaming numbers driven by off-platform campaign activities are essential to measure correct allocation of marketing spend for labels and the industry at large. Without them, how do you connect an artist’s Instagram audience with listeners? How do you know which off-platform channel streams originated from? How can labels help generate more listeners and streams and move tracks onto the charts? Ultimately, artist teams are left unable to react in real time to the streaming market, leading to missed opportunities and potentially wasted marketing dollars. So, while strides are being made to open up this data, much more needs to be done, and quickly.
During my Sandbox Summit panel, Tim Hrycyshyn of Republic Records and music ad-tech strategist Bryan Calhoun explained how labels and artist management work together to share data once they get to the collaboration stage. Granting access to fan email lists and integrating Tag Managers and Facebook pixels on Linkfire links and on the artist website enable the different parts to speak to each other and allow marketing teams to run optimized campaigns toward fans to drive to the latest release or sell them concert tickets and other merch. It’s a good example of different sectors of the music industry coming together to share data with the artist’s best interests at heart. Moving forward, we need to get to a place where the entire industry collaborates with its artists to drive success across the board.
Jeppe Faurfelt is the co-founder and CCO of Linkfire, a music marketing platform and smart link management company connecting artists, record labels, and distribution companies. In this role, Faurfelt oversees commercial strategy, operations, and developing the client-facing organization to drive overall business growth with a focus on the U.S. market. He has spoken at prominent industry conferences such as Music Biz, NY:LON Connect, Music Ally’s Sandbox Summit, and SXSW. He has also been featured in publications such as Sandbox, Music Ally, Music Row, Digital Music News, and Your Morning Coffee.