The days of just relying on a record store clerk for new music recommendations are dead and long gone. If you've ever purchased a vinyl record, cassette tape or compact disc, then you've no doubt shopped for tunes inside a brick-and-mortar shop. But parts of the music industry are increasingly using predictive and prescriptive data analytics to study listening habits and make suggestions to fans based on their prior consumption. The process makes analytics part of the art.
The streaming music market is growing at a fast clip as new services like Tidal, Apple Music and others dive in to get a share of the format. In fact, listening to music online is the only part of the business that's not contracting, save for vinyl record sales, according to Statista, an online statistics aggregator. Paid and free subscription streaming services such as Spotify accounted for 32 percent of the market in 2014 – up from merely 9 percent in 2008, Statista reported.
Increased competition among the listening services means more of the startups are using data analytics to their advantage to stay on top of subscribers' habits and preferences. Spotify could be ahead of the pack as it recently purchased new data specialist companies to examine the behaviors of its listeners.
How are they listening?
The data analytics used allows the service to detect customer patterns i.e. if someone skipped a track by a certain artist, how many times they played the same song or album, etc. It also uses algorithms to make suggestions of particular songs or mixes similar to music and bands a patron rated highly, Fortune magazine reported.
While Spotify's recent acquisitions of data crunching companies might put it ahead of the fold, others such as Pandora also own their own data analytic teams and businesses in order to stay relevant and keep customers engaged and loyal to the brand.
According to Next Big Sound, a music data analytics company under Pandora's umbrella, people streamed 1 trillion tracks in the first six months of 2015. The business used information across all services that offer streaming tunes including YouTube and Vimeo since users can also listen to tunes on those video sites.
Making the process of who, what and how many times to listen to a song can assist more than just streaming services, Next Big Sound contended in its summer 2015 study of streaming trends. More data to examine can give music labels and artists a clearer picture of what's working and what's not so they can tweak their marketing campaigns. According to the company, embracing the information can not only help labels but also maintain the "middle class" of bands and musicians who may not be superstars like Taylor Swift, but who sell out smaller venues.
Music labels are now playing catch-up as they notice the value data has on their industry, O'Reilly, a technology news website noted. While music is an art, it needs science to know just how many people across the world are enjoying the song.