Why Musicians Need to Pay Attention to Big Data

Amber Healy represented sister site Geeks&Beats at The Future of Music Conference in Washington DC last week. Here’s one of her reports on a panel involving music and big data.

Data should not be a four-letter word for musicians, labels or fans. It’s a tool to be utilized: by bands for engaging with their audience; for labels to better target the bands in their stable; but also for fans to get better swag from artists they love.

To open the second day of the Future of Music Coalition’s Music Policy Summit, in Washington, D.C., Kiran Gandhi, a drummer for artists including M.I.A. and former data analyst with Interscope Records, and Liv Buli, the first data journalist for Next Big Sound and now Pandora, discussed the importance of data to the music industry and how neither artists nor labels should shy away from sharing their information. If a band knows which fans are the most dedicated listeners, it can reward their loyalty with interactions or personal experiences, for example, while labels can figure out where their bands have the biggest pockets of support and use that to book more successful tours.

Calling the conversation “near and dear to my heart,” Gandhi explained that she decided to obtain a business degree from Harvard after hearing the founder of Next Big Sound speak at a previous Future of Music Coalition conference. Her first job, at Interscope, was analyzing data from Spotify and YouTube for artists on that label.

Buli noted that the importance of having access to and understanding data has grown exponentially since her career started.

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Alan Cross

is an internationally known broadcaster, interviewer, writer, consultant, blogger and speaker. In his 30+ years in the music business, Alan has interviewed the biggest names in rock, from David Bowie and U2 to Pearl Jam and the Foo Fighters. He’s also known as a musicologist and documentarian through programs like The Ongoing History of New Music.

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