Wednesday, May 6, 2015

Music Marketers: Three Steps to Start Using Big Data

The music discovery tool Shazam, just by itself, registers 20 million song searches per day by fans needing to know what they're hearing in real-time. That’s not just a lot of data to dig through; that’s BIG data. The insights from consumer interaction with tech like Shazam are powerful, and as a grad student in Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) at Northwestern University, I’m offering three suggestions on how to start using big data now in order to gain key consumer insights in music marketing.

In his article, “The Shazam Effect” written for The Atlantic, Derek Thompson discusses how data provided by technologies including Shazam, Spotify and Pandora provide music marketers with critical information. Songs destined to become hits and the actual sounds that listeners gravitate towards can be picked out of data trails on listener engagement. There’s certainly evidence suggesting that today’s popular music is more repetitive due to this sort of new understanding, but the flipside is that music fans are being super-served. Not to mention, the ability to decipher musical similarities across genres has lead to some big success including genre-bending grooves and mashups founded in research and analytics. Derek points to Ariana Grande’s hit “Problem,” featuring Iggy Azalea, with its combination of jazzy sax, pop and hip hop as an example of cross-genre popularity.

Big Data gained from apps like Shazam, which allows fans to identify songs in real-time, provide key insights to music marketers that can be used to spot breakout hits and other emerging trends.

Adam Sherwin, writing for The Independent in his article “The Media Column: The Music Business Is Starting to Think the next Big Thing Is Just a Computer Algorithm Away,” agrees with many of these points. “The tool that is increasingly being used to define a hit or a miss is ‘big data,’” Adam writes. Big data can help marketers look for music that will successfully satisfy the parameters outlined by the data insights, and analyzing big data can reveal trends even before they reach public consciousness.

After reviewing the articles above, and through my studies in the IMC program at Northwestern's Medill School of Journalism, Media, and Integrated Marketing Communications, here are three recommendations to start using big data:
  • No Intimidation Necessary – Start with easy-to-decipher stats such as YouTube views and Facebook "Likes" to discover what fans are engaging with most and then use these insights to guide decisions.
  • A+ Profiles – Keep all online profiles up to date in order to ensure that the numbers you're analyzing and the insights you glean are actually attributed to current campaigns.
  • Stay Human – Throw in new types of content and change up your approach once in a while to see how fans respond, and then analyze this data to see if it worked.
Big data offers a way for music marketers to analyze what’s working with fans and what is not, and it can be easy to start utilizing these insights. Just remember to start simple by looking at easily measured stats, rigorously maintain an artist’s online presence to help keep data clean, and stay human by trying new things.

Jaime Marconette is a Graduate Student of Integrated Marketing Communications (IMC) at Medill, Northwestern University. He is a member of the digital marketing team at Sony Music Nashville and loves looking at the intersection of analytics and consumer insights.
Follow Jaime on Twitter: @JaimeMarconette, or connect through LinkedIn:

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