As a music business professional and DJ based out of Goa, India, I have always intended to apply my professional learning to support independent musicians. While educating and consulting artists on what strategies they should employ to help their music get heard has been informed largely by my own experiences in the music industry, music data analytics tools have also been integral to that journey.
It goes without saying that creating music is—and should remain—the primary focus of an artist; however, making sure that music reaches the right audience can be just as important. With abundant opportunities and an overwhelming amount of content out there, reaching any audience—let alone the right audience—can be a huge feat. Fortunately, music data analytics can help artists in three important ways:
I have worked closely with number of artists on data-driven marketing campaigns, but a few examples really stick out as being particularly indicative of strategies any artist can employ to step up their music release strategy. Whether it’s emulating the strategies of similar artists, closely analyzing artist fanbases, or getting strategic about ad creatives, there are endless opportunities to learn from what your data are telling you. So let’s get into it!
Drawing Inspiration From Your Heroes
From image to music, every artist has role models, or musicians whose art and output inspire them. The same can be true from an analytical point of view. Artists can learn just as much from studying the trajectories of other artists as they can from a workshop on music marketing. With this philosophy in mind, I encourage artists to perform a “similar artist” analysis so they can identify release trends and strategies by studying the growth of their heroes.
Natasha Ejaz, a vocalist and producer based out of Karachi, Pakistan, has a similar artist list that includes Lianne La Havas and Remi Wolf. Looking at the career trajectory of these artists, I was able to identify some key moves that were highly beneficial—and in some cases, turning points—in their careers. For instance, for Remi Wolf, the rate of change in her fan base rank drastically improved as a result of her TikTok and Instagram followers skyrocketing after Apple featured her track “Hello Hello Hello” in an ad in November 2020.
Regardless of the high engagement and heavy exposure generated by frequent releases, Remi Wolf was far behind Lianne La Havas when it came to Fan Conversion rate, or the ratio between an artist’s Spotify Monthly Listeners and their Spotify followers. One way to look at this analysis is that Lianne is able to turn listeners into dedicated fans while Remi has a more fleeting relationship with listeners, even though she gets significantly more exposure.
Comparing Tracks From Similar Genres and Artists
To go deeper into the success stories of a similar artist approach, we can study and compare specific tracks as well. The Neighboring Artists section on Chartmetric artist pages lets you pick artists from a similar genre and metric range, and from there, you can identify tracks from each of those similar artists that are comparable to the track you’re trying to market. As part of my analysis for an Indian rapper, I chose four tracks that were all released around a similar time.
A few things to note looking at the above graphs, bearing in mind all tracks had playlist positions between No. 1 and No. 5:
- The track with the highest playlist reach also has the highest stream count.
- A track’s position on a playlist plays a major role in how much engagement that track will get.
- Despite its high playlist count, Yungsta’s “Presidential” has the lowest stream count and playlist reach.
Through this analysis, we were able to find high-performing playlists to submit editorial requests to—namely, the playlists that helped give “Jama Kar” the second highest stream count, playlist reach, and popularity despite the track having the lowest playlist count.
Indulging in Your Fans’ Interests
Not knowing who your audience actually is makes it really hard to engage with them, but once you develop an understanding of your fanbase’s demographics and interests, it makes it a lot easier to tailor an effective marketing strategy for them. So, after studying the Audience section of Mumbai-based singer/producer Kiss Nuka’s artist page, I was able to identify her top-performing social media posts and her fan’s top interests, which helped me optimize her content strategy.
With each release, I was then able to use metrics like Spotify Monthly Listeners and Spotify Fan Conversion rate to assess the effectiveness of that content strategy.
Keeping Your Visuals True to You
While music data analytics certainly should not be used to determine what musical content to make, tools like Chartmetric can be informative when it comes to deciding what kinds of creative assets to use for advertising your music. One feature that came in handy recently, for instance, was the YouTube Sentiment analysis tool on Chartmetric artist pages.
For an artist like Kiss Nuka, who thrives on her visual artistry, and Natasha Ejaz, who plans to release several music videos for her upcoming album, a video content plan was essential, and to formulate that plan I used the YouTube Sentiment feature to assess a few artists from their “Similar Artist” list.
Examining the YouTube Sentiment breakdown by comments and videos for FKA Twigs (an artist Kiss Nuka is inspired by) demonstrated to me that “softer” videos like “home with you” engendered a more positive response than hypnotic and futuristic videos “holy terrain.” One reasonable takeaway from this analysis is that audiences better engage with the softer side of FKA Twigs, at least visually.
Applying the same sort of approach to Lianne La Havas (an artist Natasha Ejaz admires), I noticed that reactions were positive across the board, confirming her fans' appreciation for her talent and artistry no matter what. They related to her essence, her story, and her pain—not necessarily her external image.
Tapping the Right Opportunities
Whether you're marketing your music on a streaming platform or on a social media platform, it all comes down to knowing what users are going to give you the best opportunities to reach not just the most people, but the right people.
Getting featured on a playlist is one of the most effective strategies to improve track impressions on a streaming platform. For me, Chartmetric’s Playlist Evolution feature is useful for identifying the influential curators whose playlists tend to feed the bigger playlists, which is essential information to have for future campaigns. Artists and their teams can also use this data to make a case for an editorial playlist placement.
Looking at the playlist placements for a US-based singer/songwriter, for example, I found out that one of his tracks was added to 97 playlists with a total reach of 1.92M in the first 10 days after release, though none of these playlists was editorial. The data confirmed that the track was growing fast and had potential, so I suggested the artist reach out to various streaming apps and curators with that data to score an editorial placement.
The usefulness of the Playlist Evolution feature doesn't stop there. I discovered that another track had been organically added to several workout playlists. Not only was I able to discover how effective these workout playlists were for this track, but I was also able to recommend the artist for sync opportunities with relevant footwear and gym brands.
Believe it or not, the TikTok influencer ecosystem is somewhat similar to the Spotify curator ecosystem, at least when it comes to identifying the right tastemakers and making the appropriate pitches. Like Spotify playlists, promoting music on TikTok through influencer marketing is an incredible tactic for reaching a wider audience.
While working on TikTok content strategy for Berlin-based Techno artist, BEC, I was able to do this by following a few simple steps. With the help of Chartmetric's Neighboring Artists section, I identified artists from the same genre cluster that were already popular on TikTok. Then, looking through their “Top Influencers” list, I handpicked the ones that fit BEC’s campaign vision best. I was able to make my selection even more effective by filtering the list according to "Engaged Followers."
Now I can think about marketing BEC's music with the most relevant, influential TikTok users, ideally maximizing the effectiveness of the campaign.
It’s All About Making Data-Driven Decisions
When it comes to marketing music, identifying what strategies are generating the best results is crucial to knowing where to concentrate effort, time, and money. Chartmetric, and other music data analytics tools like it, help artists and their teams do exactly that, allowing users to draw out actionable insights. Whether you’re following in the footsteps of artists you admire, getting a better understanding of who your audience is, or developing the right content strategy, data is crucial to the optimization process.
As Deloitte Vice Chairman Jay Samit says, “The data may disappoint, but it will never lie.” Your metrics might not live up to all of your expectations at first, but knowing what they actually are is the best way to make improvements to them. If you can apply this lesson to your music marketing and promotion strategies, your likelihood of success will be that much greater.
To learn more about what I do, you can contact me at [email protected]. Also, BIG news: The Chartmetric team have launched their official certification program. I just got mine, and I highly recommend it to anyone looking to advance their career in music. You can learn more at learn.chartmetric.com.
Sign up for a Chartmetric account here. Choose your plan and trial it for 7 days before committing. Our Artist Plan starts at only $10/mo.