Working at a music data company like Viberate, music stats are what we're crunching all day, errday – and we love it. We know it's hard to understand, when some people get a rash just thinking about graphs. But if you're an artist, you should embrace data like it's your best friend.
❓ WHY SHOULD YOU EVEN CARE
When you're making music, there's always the question: How do I get ahead?
For a long time now, the industry’s formula for success has been talent (“born this way”) + hard work (the amount of time and effort you’re prepared to invest into "making it") + luck (guessing the right strategy, knowing the right people… the stars aligning, if you will).
Here’s the twist. Digital channels make it easy to get your music out there, but because of all the competition, it’s that much harder to break through the noise (and on the other hand, for labels and A&Rs to notice new talent). In 2019, around 40,000 songs were reportedly uploaded to Spotify daily – and that's only one channel. Luck alone won’t do it anymore, at least not if you’re in it for the long run.
Music analytics help you take the luck factor out of the music industry's formula for success and replace it with information. Inserting some light mathematics:
success = talent + hard work +
Music is about taste, and if enough people like what you’re doing, you’ve made it. And data will help you stay on top of that.
🔎 To get to know your fanbase.
🎯 To learn from the best in your genre and set the goals.
👣 To track your promotions, new releases, and social media efforts.
🕸️ To work on your music network and find new collab opportunities.
🗺️ To research potential countries and find new opportunities.
If talking about data seems like a drag, we’re coming in with a few visuals from Viberate analytics, a tool designed with the idea that data shouldn’t be rocket science.
Learn about your fanbase: how big it is, which is your strongest channel, what your fans respond to the most, where they come from, etc. Information is king – if you know your basic stats, you can learn from them, recreate good practices, or adapt your strategy when it’s not working as it should.
✔️ One of the first things you should check is whether you have a good combination of social media and music channels to get your message across and promote your music. In Viberate analytics, we’ve summed this up in the graphics below. This is an example of a Hip Hop artist with Instagram as his strongest channel (see the engagement rate in comparison to the industry average in the second graphic) and a good mix of music channels. You’ll see why this is important in our next point. You can also read our guides:
Besides learning from your stats, see what the top performers in the genre are doing. This will help you set your goals and the strategy to get there.
✔️ In Viberate’s Genre analytics, you can check how the top 3,000 artists grew their fanbase across their channels in the last year. In the graph for Hip Hop below, you’ll see that three of them stand out. Following the “go where the fans are” notion, these are the channels that work for Hip Hop artists, and investing in building them up could pay off.
Did you recently release new tracks and promote them online (and even invest some coins into ads)? You can see how this influenced your fanbase. It would be ideal if you saw the spillover to other channels. For example, if your Instagram posts result in more activity on streaming sites, you're doing it. Otherwise, think about adjusting your strategy. Trial and error is how you get it right in the end – if you're learning from your mistakes as you go, that is.
✔️ In the Viberate analytics graphs below, measuring an artist’s fanbase growth, you can see the fanbase in June grew across the channels, so the activity made an impact. To dig deeper, check the comparison in the graph comparing fanbase and engagement. You can see that engagement rose above the fanbase size, which is where you want to be, because it means that the audience is highly engaged.
Having a strong network of artists can help you massively. You can learn from them, ask for their opinion, they can help you promote your music, open doors for you, or even join you for a collab. Believe it or not, analytics can help you work on your artist connections.
✔️ In Viberate analytics, we’ve made an overview of your connections by popularity (as you can see below). Game plan: make sure you follow your connections back and work on building a relationship (comment on their posts when it makes sense, send them a DM, suggest a collab, etc). You can also get some good ideas for new connections if you check who else they're following.
If you're trying to make it in a specific market, it's a good idea to know what people listen to, how popular the events in your genre are, and if there are potential festivals for you.
✔️ Let’s say your analytics show you’ve got a significant number of fans in Germany. A look at the Viberate's Live Performance City Map will highlight the cities in the country with the most festivals and events and point out the top three genres. Clicking through it you can get a sense of the places with the most potential.
We could go for a cliché, such as "the only constant in life is change", but the truth is that the music industry never sleeps. Not so long ago, we were buying physical copies, then along came downloading, and then streaming smashed that too. The year 2020 even made us rethink live performances, which we previously thought were a given, and resort to livestreaming. A good thing is that you can track your online activity and learn from it pretty easily. Plus, all the information you get will be just as useful when the events come back.