Musicians Play Moneyball: Data Revolutionizes Another Industry

By | October 20, 2014


Taylor Hanson at Forbes' Under 30 Summit
Taylor Hanson at Forbes’ Under 30 Summit

The concept of rooting business decisions more in quantitative, rather than qualitative, examination transformed the baseball industry. Now a small, if evangelical, group of entrepreneurs and musicians are trying to apply the same mindset to booking tours, releasing albums and managing fame. It was part of the discussion at FORBES’ Under 30 Summit in Philadelphia today, one that featured Hanson, Spotify’s Sachin Doshi and entrepreneur Alex White.

Taking center stage of this shift are entertainers like Hanson, who has experimented with social media data to line up gigs in seemingly strange locations. “All of a sudden we could have 200 people in a bar in the dessert,” says the blonde boy band singer and CEO of 3CG Records.
Not just artists are playing at Moneyball — capitalists too. White’s New York-based startup Next Big Sound takes data on artists and sells it to managers and entertainers in one $20-a-month dashbord. Next Big Sound pulls through Facebook likes, Pandora downloads and other mentions for artists to make more analytical choices.

“People don’t get in the music industry because they love data. Except for me,” says White. “There’s never been this much data. There was just CD sales and radio.” One piece of data he especially liked: examining how many times an artist’s MySpace page was viewed and comparing it to how many songs were downloaded from that MySpace page.

What are the implications of all this? “Data can show us when to release the next record,” says Spotify’s Doshi. “That’s certainly something in our streaming environment that we can work with artists and bands.”


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