Why You Should Be A (Creative) Data Nerd

Truth awaits discovery within our digital footprints. Today’s tools open the flood gates for new insights. Enough information to drown Excel ad infinitum readily exists for artists of all shapes and sizes, neatly translated to accelerate action.

Spotify, for instance, presents demographic norms for every artist’s audience. Additionally, Stem aggregates financial performance across all major music streaming platforms. This facilitates song-by-song investment decisions. Teams can look at the tangible impact of anything, from their Instagram ad campaigns to a late-night TV appearance. Don’t even get us started on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter.

“Nerd” has a praiseful ring in 2018. However different our cerebral hemispheres, those who self-select to “left-brained” or “right-brained” risk selling themselves short. You can do anything when creativity and numbers collide. The power of information has shifted for the better. This data tidal wave begs one question: What do we do with it all?

For starters, data offers context to combat pesky human errors like bias. While numbers don’t tell the full truth, they provide another perspective. Metrics encourage growth by capturing the results of an action. This enables, at the very least, an educated-guess judgment.

In this post, we talk with Stem users about how they use data to inform creative decisions, from what works with streaming to testing new ideas.

Use Music Streaming to…

Identify What Works

If nothing else, data affords the luxury of awareness. It only takes a few taps in an iPhone app to see how a song’s doing in Sweden. Missing those opportunities can affect an artist’s trajectory. Radha Kotliarsky, a manager at indie label Lowly Palace, says it best.

“If you see a track suddenly spiking in plays, it’s our job to figure out why and then use that to ride the wave and maximize exposure.”

Will Perliter, of R&R Digital and Mixed Management, agrees. He views data as an alarm system, signaling if, when and where a release warrants more juice.

“At this point, for me, data works most effectively to help figure out where to spend money. It helps discover where little fires exist around the world—Internet—that you can pour gas on, to turn small moments into bigger ones.”

Stem artist Henry Hall echoes Will. “If I know which songs are gaining traction, I know what to focus on in my social media pushes. Even if that means easing off of a tune I might really enjoy.”

There’s limitless opportunity in swiftly, accurately identifying what’s working and then responding accordingly. Teams that prioritize core activities around a healthy mix of gut and data stand to put their time and money in the right place.

Plan Future Moves

DSPs, distributors and social networks let artists identify fans’ whereabouts without abusing privacy. Rough estimates have morphed into an increasingly exact science. Possibilities abound.

“Data can serve as justification for a pop-up event in a new city,” says artist manager Matt Colwell. “You can see if printing a limited-run merch line will make or lose money.”

As one might imagine, artists and teams can take location information and run with it. Respond to a UK streaming uptick with a feature for a London artist. Make the most of an influx of listeners in Japan with targeted social ads. Acknowledge your fans in a small market city like Omaha with a free show. Conversely, some data might do little to improve the obvious. Mixed Management’s Perliter expands.

“People always talk about Spotify helping map out a tour. I would just be disappointed if someone said they did and showed me a tour of every major market. However, it’s intriguing to imagine someone’s first tour hitting cities like Shreveport, Toledo, and Wichita, which might have otherwise been overlooked.”

This geographic line of thinking extends to digital platforms. Stem artist and pop princess Madison Rose explains.

“Maybe your Spotify numbers are way better than your Apple Music numbers, so perhaps you can use that info to see how you can change your marketing strategy to drive your audience to Apple, to balance out your plays.”

Test New Ideas

The scientific method, in practice, leads to improvements both within and beyond business. Just as data helps measure whether a given song requires additional resources, that same data can suggest whether those resources made a difference. Monty Anglade, Director of Operations at Soulection, tested a Twitter campaign, #SoulectionSunday, following similar logic.

“Over the years, people would constantly post that they listen to Soulection on Sundays,” he tells Stem. “Thanks to that, I started #SoulectionSunday, where people would share a new song they had discovered during the week. I never would have known if I wasn’t aware of the data.”

That low-intensity test sparked enough support to warrant more investment. In March, Monty made a collaborative #SoulectionSunday playlist on Spotify to capture all of the music people shared. It has accumulated over 3000 followers and continues to climb.

music streaming

Music streaming data can also inform what to test, where to test and who to target. Your listener information helps illuminate the platforms, partnerships and people that make the most sense when ideating new ideas and strategies.

“I see that I’ve got high listenership with the 18-to-24 year old age range,” Madison Rose tells Stem. “That let’s me know a college tour is viable. Or, I can use that data to align myself with social influencers, YouTube channels, even television shows that have a high viewership in that age range, to see if they’d want to feature my song in their work.”

music streaming

Although data helps illuminate action paths, numbers sometimes shroud the bigger picture. It might help to make assumptions before turning to the hard results, then gauging why your predictions did not (or did!) align with reality. Data identifies “what,” and sometimes “how,” but rarely “why.” Spend more time with Stem’s blog to learn how we can help you make sense of the music streaming landscape.

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