How Music Industry Project Management SHOULD Work

1As the music industry has transformed and increased in complexity so dramatically over the past few years that the already time consuming task of reporting has grown even more so. In this piece, David Weiszfeld looks at how reporting and project management should work in the music business.

_________________________________________

Guest post by David Wieszfeld on Medium

All music professionals have to report, it’s one of the most time consuming tasks. We all hate to do it but it’s at the core of our daily routine….

During my 9 years at Universal and last three as an independent, reporting has been the #1 time-consuming task for my team and I (this is me).

Most of the people I work and speak with today all have the same issue:

We go through emails, social tools, multiple airplay reports, spreadsheets, sales dashboards, etc... As a result we spend more time asking for stats than analyzing them !

Our industry has gone through a revolution and today there is no framework, no standard practice to monitor an artist’s performance. Lack of data access often creates heated debates between managers and their labels.

We all want real-time automated reporting, a solution that would give us real-time answers on all our questions.

So let’s pretend everyone is working in good faith, let’s put data retention aside for now and see how the music industry can optimise data flow and campaign management.

Selling music has never been this easy but measuring performance has never been so hard!

The rules have changed, this is in big part due to the growth of streaming and multiplication of social channels, these changes will continue to drive the need for real-time worldwide reporting….there is no turning back!

WHAT YOU SHOULD TRACK

Proprietary charts

The Music Industry has always been about vanity metrics.

Charts positions are still the #1 selling point when speaking to mainstream media. They make for easier decision making whether to feature or book an artist. Being able to know when a product is charting and for how long is key for any PR or Plugger.

You should track 9 platforms :

  • Spotify
  • iTunes
  • Apple Music
  • Shazam
  • Hypemachine
  • Soundcloud
  • Bandcamp
  • Deezer
  • Amazon
  • Google Play

Social media insights

Most music product managers still don’t know how to analyse trends.

One example is an artist who’s following is increasing by 2% each month. If this social media’s average growth is 4% per month the artist’s market share is declining.

Few managers & label managers understand relative growth. The networks never provide this metric in their dashboards…

No one should build a campaign without focusing on social media insights and planning.

You should track 7 platforms :

  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • Twitter
  • Youtube
  • Snapchat (there is no public API so tracking must still be done within the app)
  • Spotify (it is as much a social media as it is a streaming service)
  • Soundcloud

Playlists Monitoring

With the rise of streaming, fans now discover music from playlists.

The shift from radio is happening. The #1 Top40 station in France : NRJ hasan average listeners age of 31… This is old, especially for urban and electronic music !

Spotify Playlist Monitoring is key for a successful development. Even Payola previously linked to radios has now crossed over to Playlists.

An optimized playlist strategy is at the core of a well managed campaign. This is especially for developing artists who have always had a hard time with larger FM stations.

You should track playlists from :

  • Spotify : This IS the Spotify Game, no playlist = no visibility
  • AppleMusic : AppleMusic has complete control over its own playlist which make pitching even harder than Spotify, The Majors have started to push their own playlists brands there as well a a few selected partners but reaching out to tastemakers is very hard (no internal messaging system and no Facebook connect)
  • Youtube : Channels such as MajesticCasual, Trap Nation & Electro posé can really help artist development (though you have to give away monetization to be on these)
  • Deezer (well if you’re french like us, it counts ;)
  • You can try to track playlist additions on TIDAL, Napster & Google Play thought their reach is limited and their API makes it hard to get relevant data)

Airplay Monitoring

Airplay Monitoring is as important as expensive, most of the time it is local based ! Most labels still focus on airplay in their own market as there is no standard for international airplay monitoring. There is a gap with streaming strategy which by definition is global.

Understanding which Radios are the important ones is hard except for experienced international executives…and they are a rare breed.

Ambitious radio strategy is still one of the bigger challenges and the #1 reason why artists sign to the majors.

In the US, working a national radio campaign remains extremely costly. Radio reports were usually only delivered to the top 10 labels who can afford to pay for tracking.

PREVIOUS INITIATIVES

Until today the label had to report manually to the managers.

The Managers would then debrief the artist, booker & publisher.

As a result data based decisions are still very rare in the Music Industry, they tend to take too much time in an industry that is usually understaffed

There has been some initiatives to make it work.

MusicMetric had a long term deal with EMI, since then the start up was bought by Apple, EMI merged into the UMG.

Next Big Sound leaned towards syndicating charts for billboard and had a deal with some of the majors. They were bought in 2014 by Pandora. Soundcloud and spotify stopped delivering data to them as after the sale. They have also just switched from a NBS chart to a Pandora branded charts.

SOUNDCHARTS

Soundcharts tries to solve this pain for everyone associated with an artist or its campaign:

  • Artist & Managers
  • Product Managers
  • Publicists
  • Sales
  • Radio and Playlist pluggers
  • Promoter
  • Agent
  • Collecting societies
  • Brands
  • Agencies
  • Festivals & Venues

We believe the industry is ready to use data into the daily workflow. The majors have started for example Universal’s Internal Artist Portal.

New generation mobile devices and 4G are now allowing us to use professional dashboards on the go.

The industry is also much younger than it was 5/10 years ago, and the new faces of the industry are embracing data more and more each day.

Soundcharts processes, analyzes and archives a mass of information in real-time. We give meaning to this data thanks to an intuitive and ergonomic dashboard. We provide this data to the various industry players.

In other words Soundcharts is a full-stack solution (database, desktop, mobile apps & API) that enhances decision making by bringing together real-time and historical music consumption data (from charts, airplay, playlists and social networks).

More than 7500 industry professionals are already active on Soundcharts !

A FEW EXAMPLES

1/ How to improve Playlist plugging.

We automate Playlist Monitoring : Your are now able to see the position of your tracks and your competitors tracks in Spotify & Apple Music

You can focus on pitching and make data driven decisions.

2/ How to give Managers the data they need

Everyone can now access Charts, Playlists, Airplay & Social information.

No need to wait for reporting to come.

Informational meetings now become decision based meetings

3/ How to maximize live fees.

Receiving charts and social activity in real time allows the agents to better negotiate international fees


You can also reach out if you want to know more about our mission and platform ! Or just signup here :)


Please click the below if you enjoyed reading this article or add a comment in the section below.


Many thanks to Bas Grasmayer and Chris Stoneman for the feedback along the way :)