Data and insight is the seasoning but not the main event when it comes to music marketing, according to Daniel Hall, senior director of insight and planning at Sony Music.
Hall, who spoke at the third day-time session of MEC Music Week about using data to unlock insights and plan better brand campaigns in music, cited how Sony had used data to boost sales of One Direction’s third album to increase understanding in to what audiences’ connect with as the boys come of age.
He referred to four major music industry transitions that have happened recently: firstly, physical to digital, secondly, desktop to mobile, thirdly, ‘a la carte’ to streaming and, finally, the emergence of playlists.
“Big data is a tool,” Hall said, “A way to get deeper insight in to who your artist is and who your audience is.” It helps understand the who, what, when and how but not the why, he continued.
Hall also pointed out that the music industry has always been very data driven, following the charts for information. Analytics are now used to decide which song to release and explain different demographics, with data on reach, frequency and how often a track has been added to consumers’ playlists being available only 15 minutes after a song is uploaded.
“The bat phone rings and we’re able to say ‘this appeals’,” said Hall.
Collecting brand affinity data is now allowing companies to identify the best matches between artists and brands to create a content series, according to Hall. However, he said that truthfully this data only ever gives a starting point.
In conclusion, Hall said that with regards to problem solving, data is used to ‘celebrate the hits and bury the dead’, with the future focused on digital as opposed to physical recordings.
Making Spotify sexier
Account director at Spotify and Echo Nest Tom Kitchen said that data was used to look into how his company can be a bit ‘sexier’. He went on to explain how Spotify had used data to identify forthcoming stars, develop brand partnerships like Starbucks and Uber and identify trends like a streaming surge when an artist dies.
For example, Spotify has noticed a correlation between stories relating to space is in the news and increased streaming of Aerosmith’s ‘I Don’t Want To Miss a Thing’.
Other factors that Kitchen discussed included analysis of ‘danceability’ vs energy, and the relevance of playlist titles.
He went on to discuss forthcoming Spotify advances, including a running app, ‘Moments’ which will suggest different music and content depending upon the time of day and a recommendations feature which will help spot stars of the future first. Another new development is Discover Weekly, a playlist of about twenty songs tailored to the listener based on their current preferences, which will be delivered straight to consumers’ inboxes each week.
Kitchen concluded by saying that the future of the music industry lay in live music and streaming.
“If you have static research, by the time you finish it, it could be out of date, so the fusion with the behavioural data of what people are actually listening to is really interesting, giving a complete story line of what people say they do and what they do do.”
Throughout MEC Music Week, speakers from Twitter, LoveLive, Facebook, Sky, C4 and ITV amongst others have talked about brand partnerships, social and music brand campaigns and the future of music on TV. The concluding talk on 18 September will see key social media platforms Twitter and Facebook showcase their latest tools and innovations, using music campaigns as case studies to demonstrate how social networking is revolutionizing the music business.
Mark Knight, strategy director at MEC, said the purpose of the week was to encourage people to consider all the different ways that music could be used.
“The big challenge for music is that it’s always so fast paced, what’s hot one minute is not the next,” Knight said. “If you have static research, by the time you finish it, it could be out of date, so the fusion with the behavioural data of what people are actually listening to is really interesting, giving a complete story line of what people say they do and what they do do.”