The Town Hall Meeting at Music Biz 2012 took the opportunity to examine data – how it’s best used and when it leads us astray. Ethan Kaplan, VP of Product for Live Nation Labs, kicked off the session with a reminder that not all data is good data. He admonished the participants in the town hall to remember that if the way that one manages a product pre-determines the results, than that data is not useful. He recommended instead that data results be analyzed in partnership with context and experience in order to draw conclusions. He recommended that product developers and managers use user experience and product design to guide decision making. The ultimate goal, Kaplan concluded was to create the product possible with the least amount of friction for the consumer. Using these guiding principles will allow decision makers to better manage the sometimes overwhelming streams of data about a particular experience.
Kaplan’s keynote was followed by a presentation by Russ Crupnick, of The NPD Group, who shared how their data gathering techniques have evolved over the years to better reflect the marketplace. His “Small Data, Big Insights” presentation showed how NPD has shifted its focus from way back in the day when they had a panel of 8,000 people sending in postcards detailing everything they bought in music (where, when, genre, format, etc.) to now, when NPD has reinvented the MusicWatch product to derive data on experiences – concerts, merchandise, listening, P2P, people enjoying their own collection or sharing others, etc. Of course, NPD is also incorporating social media and all of the other Influences that touch the consumer (e.g., radio, TV, stores, streaming services, etc.) into their data collection.
The next study was presented by David Bakula, the SVP of Analytics and Client Relations from Nielsen, presented another metrics case study, focusing on research Nielsen conducted to look at the Limewire Case.
What Nielsen discovered was that those who continued sharing files in 2011 were much heavier music users. A small number of very prolific downloaders were responsible for a good amount of the file sharing – 20% of users represented 60% of the volume. What does this tell us? Shutting down Limewire did what has happened every time a file sharing service is shuttered – the heaviest users migrate to other file sharing options, since that is what they do, that is a key way they acquire music. But, on the flip side, the positive effect is that awareness of piracy does deter people from using the illegal methods, so when a case gets a lot of press and people become aware of the implications of illegal behavior, many will be deterred from continuing that behavior.
Following Nielsen’s discoveries, Colin Willis shared a number of data points collected by his company, Next Big Sound. He used two case studies to demonstrate the benefit of well used data.
Case Study #1 demonstrated how NBS has been working with Sony Music to develop a Report Wizard that allows users to choose a report template and customize all of the pieces. This flexible tool allows users to create a report focusing on community or content, artist or demographics by any geographic location, including the specific media necessary to answer the business question. It is especially useful when establishing benchmarks, to evaluate how your artist is performing vs. the rest of the pack. The problem or challenge for Sony was inefficient reporting processes and multiple documents across labels that did not allow for clear, readable metrics. NBS worked with the client to develop a solution to the problem.
Case Study #2 showed how NBS worked with Universal Republic to provide data for a specific action – how can we get the artist Gotye on Saturday Night Live? The solution was to use NBS data to compare and contrast other artists who had appeared on SNL and time-shift the dates to be sure they could accurately correlate the timeframes vs. Gotye’s Facebook metrics. The ultimate sign of success was a booking on SNL. Colin wanted to demonstrate just one way the NBS information could be used to answer a specific artist question but noted that the data’s flexibility allows for unlimited combinations of artists and platforms for analysis in the U.S. and other countries.
The Town Hall concluded with a panel discussion moderated by Universal Music Group’s Geoff Mayfield. The panelists were Jason Feinberg, VP, Digital Strategy & Development/D2C at Concord Music Group, Sanem Alkan, the Co-Founder and President of Social Genius, Jay Frank, the Owner and CEO of DigSin, Mark Keeney, VP of Marketing at Rhapsody and Rob McDermott, CEO of Mad Mac Entertainment.
This roundtable discussion gave label and marketing people the opportunity to respond to and talk about their personal challenges of dealing with the overload of data from sales and social media and to comment on what is most important to them, in their day-to-day efforts for artists.
In many different ways, everyone kept coming back to what is probably the key result from all of the research sessions – the huge need for easy to use data collection and aggregation systems that are intuitive, flexible and global. The metrics have spiraled out of control and everyone is looking for a way to pull the mounds of data together in a meaningful way.