It’s All About The Data

1. DIY is done. You need a partner who knows the game.

2. The game is trolling for fans on social media. Today it’s Facebook, Twitter gives few results, tomorrow it may be __________.

3. Established companies have ongoing relationships with Facebook and Spotify, all the data generators. And these entities share the data with the major labels. And having money is not enough, you’ve got to have hits, because Facebook doesn’t want to foul its site and Spotify is all about what is being played.

4. You want to attach yourself to that which is already getting traction. Someone with their own YouTube channel with a ton of subscribers who spend time at their site, even eight minutes a week, is very valuable. Someone with a Spotify playlist that has subscribers is very valuable.

5. You use these new platforms to find out if you have a hit. That’s the first step, turning something into a hit is next.

6. You’re looking for a reaction. Without it you’re dead in the water, you move on, the data doesn’t lie.

7. What looks instant to the mainstream is a long time in coming.

8. The rich are getting richer. Those with relationships and money to spend are increasing market share and the acts that gain traction are getting even bigger.

9. Data is directing the music business. The future is here.

You’ve got to work it.

I’m in Bilbao, and I just had the most fascinating conversation with Scott Cohen of the Orchard at BIME. I love learning things.

Scott says it’s a game, it’s the same as it ever was, the big labels rule, because of the DATA!

Let’s go back to Lady Gaga. It was all driven by Google AdWords. A guy in Boston who bought them there and when he got a reaction he moved it to different cities. And then it blew up.

But that paradigm is dead. Now it’s all about Facebook.

You start a campaign. And if you get no reaction, Facebook blows you out, tells you to change it. Everybody ignores the ads on the side of the page, it’s about being in the News Feed, and getting a reaction. That’s a start. How many people Like or watch a video or..? We’re talking a percent or two, that’s a good number. And then, if you’re smart, you slowly reel these people in, offering them more and more, turning them into fans. Sure, you can immediately spam them and ask them to buy the album, but that’s a mistake, you want to be in it for the long haul.

But let’s go back to One Direction. It was the social media that told them they had something. You’re always looking for a reaction. And when Syco got that, they fed these fans, with images, tools they could use. Teen print is dead, it’s all about teen sites. And you don’t pay for this info, then again, you do, remember indie promo? It’s all about the relationship with the site. Sure, you might ultimately buy ads, but the goal is to make it look like news, to make it look real. And as a result, One Direction can sell tonnage the first week. That’s just indicative of what was happening behind the scenes, that most people were ignorant of. You see there are no overnight successes.

It’s the same as it ever was. You pay to play and only a few succeed. And if you don’t pay, you’re out of the game. Used to be radio promo, then it was Google AdWords, now it’s Facebook, tomorrow it’ll be…

Who knows!

They’re already working Spotify. The key is to get on the playlist. Not only the NME’s, but the punter’s with a 100 fans. You’ve got to work it at both the top and the bottom. So some people think it’s cool and others drive by and all start spreading the word. You’re nothing without a hit, and nothing is a hit without it.

The days of “Gangnam Style” are dead. Everything is being worked. Nothing just spontaneously generates. “Royals” never changed, but the campaign made it ubiquitous.

The major labels are privy to more data than you can conceive of. And they’ve got money to try out campaigns. And just like it’s always been, only one of many tracks hits, but when they get a bite, they work it hard.

How do you know that you’ve had success, that you’re on to something? Wikipedia hits! That’s the first thing a new fan will do, go to Wikipedia to learn more. And they only go once, so you’ve got to be paying someone to get that info when they do. Next Big Sound will give it to you.

Everybody’s looking for a reaction, everybody’s paying for a reaction. And tons of work is done before most people ever know about something. Isn’t it interesting that you hear about a band and check the track out on YouTube and find out it’s got 10,000,000 views. How did that happen? The campaign!

And in this new world of streaming listening is different. Something like the album may be coming back. Because it turns out people who like one track might listen to more. And it’s all about the time spent. But it’s not about the album, but the body of work.

Once again the music business is at the forefront of the digital revolution, only this time the usual suspects have their eyes open. The barrier to entry may be incredibly low, but the barrier to success is higher than ever.

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