Written by: Media Analytics Executive, Kaitlin Brozek
I commonly confuse my audience when I explain that I am studying media analytics at Elon, with the intention of using my numeric problem solving skills in an entertainment venue after graduation. However, the two are a lot more applicable than one may think.
What is Music Analytics?
Data is more critical than ever to predict the success of a particular artist, song, or even streaming service. Chaz Jenkins of Chartmetric explains this is because “Consumers are making decisions en masse that we [the industry] used to make for them.” In the past data was simple because it was linear, local and lacking in insight. Now, music is accessed on a variety of outlets or links, thus making a path far from linear and far more difficult for an average artist or agent to follow.
How are Music Analytics & Media Analytics alike?
In Elon University’s media analytics undergraduate classes, we commonly discuss the defining features that distinguish a media analytics degree versus a business analytics or data science degree, which are offered in other departments of the university. We’ve concluded, at least based on comparing primary portions of each curriculum, that media analytics students are expected to be able to take data, that has usually already been mined, and use it to suggest calculated marketing strategies. In contrast, those within other analytics or date-driven majors focus more on the actual process of cleaning and coding the data itself. Chief executive of the Official Charts Company, Martin Talbot, explained at a conference this past year his opinion on analytics in the music industry: “You can have as much data as you like, but unless you’ve got people who can read the data and interpret it in the right way, it is completely meaningless and it gives you no power whatsoever.”
Many analysis techniques I’ve learned in these same classes are directly transferable to the music analytics industry. Companies like Chartmetric, Next Big Sound, or even analysts native to a specific record label, such as Mad Decent, actively search for individuals who are skilled at understanding audiences, sentiment and influencer analysis, and digital marketing strategies.
Understanding Audiences is one of the main academic focuses for students at Elon with an undergraduate discipline in media analytics. Current and past opinions of users on media platforms act as a common indicator for future trends and drive marketing decisions of multifaceted companies. In music, audience analysis is most directly applied to the goal of audience acquisition and retention. There comes a delicate balance between wanting to maintain current fans by continuing particular artistic choices and gaining new followers by appeasing a new population. As a media analytics major, I have begun to master the art of demographic research on a variety of platforms, including Google Data Studio, Google Analytics, Parse.ly, and native social media platforms, which tell stories of current audience members based on geolocation, age, race, and much more. Comfortable in my ability to do all of the above, I am equally confident in a media analytics major’s ability to apply these same methods to artist’s audience(s).
Sentiment Analysis is equally important when considering consumers’ opinion about certain music or artist choices. Many A&R (artists and repertoire) specialists focus on sentiment analysis, or qualitative data, in addition to the typical quantitative data collected surrounding audience members. One beneficial platform to conduct sentiment analysis on is Youtube. Record labels especially, sift through comments of new artists on Youtube channels to differentiate between what the numbers might appear to say versus what they really mean. This is a main principle in media analytics as well-- understanding that while numbers may appear positive, the truth may be a bit more complicated.
Influencer Analysis. Monitoring influencers is critical to success within the music industry as well. As much as an artist can promise his/her quality of talent, it’s evidently more valid coming from the mouth, or social media pages, of someone with their own significant following. The pattern of screenshotting a favorite song as it appears on the homescreen of an iPhone, and subsequently posting said screenshot to an Instagram story or Facebook story, has become so “trendy,” it is frequently seen on a smaller scale as well. A friend, mother, even enemy, may post his/her favorite song on the platform of their choice, and curiosity drives another viewer to open up the song on their own device and check it out for themselves. Having an understanding and control of where this chain reaction begins is incredibly powerful, and can lead to incredibly cheaper solutions to pushing a new artist or song into the world.
All of the areas of interest for music analytics, and media analytics, listed above are elements that will form the defense for a successful marketing strategy moving forward.