Tour planning and release schedules are being transformed by greater availability of recorded-music consumption data – to the benefit of artists, promoters and labels
There has always been a close link between touring and recorded music, but the growing dominance of streaming and social media is taking that relationship to new levels – and strengthening the position of artists and their management teams in planning tours, release schedules and ultimately their careers.
At A2IM’s ‘Indie Week’ in New York this week, a panel discussion examined how data from streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music are being combined with social-media analytics from platforms including YouTube and Instagram to improve the way tours are planned. This detailed breakdown of music consumption, which includes the number of streams of a particular artist’s music and the listeners’ location, alongside comments and likes for their social-media posts, is feeding into decisions on where to book dates and the size of venue needed.
Image credit: A2IM
Such data is usually made available to artists and their management teams, giving them a much more central role in developing tour plans and release schedules and encouraging close collaboration between venues, promoters and labels. Panellist Matt Adler, a booking agent at Paradigm Talent Agency, said it is important for all parties to base their decisions on the same data. Both record label and booking agent are investors, he argued, with a shared interest in creating a sustainable career for the artists they back; using data to increase the synergies between consumption of live and recorded music was in everyone’s interest.
In one example, Adler explained how Visionary Music Group, home to Grammy nominated rapper Logic, took charge of spending the promoter’s digital marketing budget to support a recent tour by its artist Chelsea Cutler. Visionary’s management team has “an incredible understanding of the modern-day touring, social-media and streaming environment”, he said, which made them the natural choice to lead the planning around tour dates and the timing of social-media posts. Their detailed knowledge of the type of digital assets the artist wanted to post and the insights gleaned as a result of analytics paid off for all those involved – 18 of the 21 shows sold out within an hour.
The trend for artists and managements to play a central role in analysing and sharing data with promoters and record labels illustrates the shift in power towards artists in the music industry. This is highly complementary to 23 Capital’s proposition of providing an alternative ‘hands off’ source of finance for artists that is aligned to their publishing/recording rights and ownership. 23 Capital seeks to provide capital in ways which allow artists to invest in what they know best – their own careers. Additionally the availability of richer data to underpin their publishing/recording revenues allows 23 Capital to carry out more detailed risk analysis before providing finance in this sector, ultimately allowing a more tailored financing solution that will benefit the artist
The ‘Indie Week’ session highlighted how data can be used in many exciting and innovative ways for the benefit of both musicians and their fans.
At the recent Bonnaroo Festival in the US, for example, fans wore wristbands that they could tag when they arrived at different stages. Those who opted in received Spotify playlists of the artists’ sets the following day, encouraging the “long tail” of festival-goers who might only have seen the artist for the first time to listen to their music again. This also seeded increased consumption of recorded music and illustrated the kind of support that promoters can potentially offer to labels.
But whichever direction this new data asset is flowing in, in today’s changing music landscape the degree of control that artists and management teams have is giving them significant power in plotting a path towards long-term success.