Consumer data is arguably the most important marketing tool for everyone in the music industry–whether you are a label, publisher, promoter or the artist them self, you need to know consumer trends to efficiently get your music to the public. Over the years, the music industry has completely revolutionized the way they collect consumer data, and with technology usage among consumers at its peak, this is a particularly interesting time for its development.
So, how has the quest for consumer data evolved over the years? And is consumer data really as crucial a component of the music business model as tech professionals make it out to be? We have some strong indicators of what the future may look like, and how the past has shaped this.
First, let’s trace it back to the beginning of the consumer data search.
file sharers and Ip addresses
Any music techie (or music fan in the early 2000’s) is familiar with LimeWire, one of the first music-sharing programs. When this digital revolution began, music labels felt a loss of control as their music was illegally distributed on file-sharers such as LimeWire. With this peer-to-peer sharing system, you were able to access the IP address of whoever is sharing content with you, so it seemed that it would be easy to catch perpetrators because of this open access, but the “more serious pirates would know to hide their IP addresses and not [share content] to the public.” This is just one part of consumer data’s journey, and as we can see, these early programs seemed to hinder the music industry at the artists’ expense.
Let’s fast forward many years down the road to when algorithms and social analytics began to reveal themselves as a crucial component to this data collection.
social media analytics and their role in music marketing
We have all experienced those extremely accurate (sometimes creepily accurate) Facebook ads that show up on our feed. This is consumer data collection at its finest. Online algorithms track our most-visited sites, and social media platforms then use this micro-data to personalize advertisements to fit our online trends. Spotify also utilizes this type of data when curating listeners’ “Discovery Weekly” and “Recommended for You” playlists. This current type of online marketing is actually a genius addition to the music business model; knowing where your audience spends most of their time online and the type of music they listen to creates a specialized market. Distributors can then target these specific listeners instead of simply releasing a new song or EP blindly on to the internet.
While in the past, file-sharers like LimeWire created a shady reputation for the consumer data search, the present and future seem to be utilizing this data in a beneficial way for artists and producers. All in all, consumer data is, in fact, a crucial component of the music business model. This specialized market can create some serious benefits for everyone in the music industry, including the artists themselves. Consumers undoubtedly react better to personalized marketing,–it gives them a sense of emotional connection to the product (or music) being directed at them–so this is perhaps the greatest consumer data breakthrough in the history of online music marketing.
(Photo courtesy of Medium)