The need for ‘top down’ data management within the music industry is now at its highest. Artists with careers that span several campaigns may see numerous members of their collective team (press officers, labels, distributors etc.) come and go but managers (and artists) should be doing more to hold on to the intellectual data that defines their audience and in turn helps shape their careers.
When I started working in the music industry a little over a decade ago, the roles within an artist’s team were highly defined (PR, radio plugger, marketing manager etc.). However as the industry has continued to adapt to new technologies, the original purpose of those roles has shifted. This has resulted in the creation of new opportunities, but also the potential for mismanagement. With roles shifting, we have seen a prospective land-grab of anything ‘digital’ heightened by the belief that this is the future of the industry.
Being able to create pools of data early in an artist’s career and to begin to segment that data can be of huge benefit and has the ability to turn a casual listener into a ‘superfan’. At The Orchard, we are currently working on a campaign for The Raveonettes (whom Scott Cohen, founder of The Orchard, also manages) where the band are writing, recording and releasing a track every month in 2016. This is not only a unconventional and rather ambitious release strategy, but it’s providing several opportunities to segment data beyond a traditional campaign. I ran the digital marketing campaign for the band’s previous album, Pe’ahi, and running both campaigns has allowed us greater insight into the fan’s demographic breakdown and behaviours.
For example, understanding who visited the website during the last album cycle but has not returned on this campaign, who downloaded a free track but hasn’t opened a newsletter, who has listened to new music on YouTube but not yet performed the same action on the band’s previous album, and so on. This micro-management of data also allows artists to speak more directly to their fans and helps nurture a relationship rather than turning it into a one-time transaction. A further example of this is Jon Loomer’s Website Custom Audience experiment where he asks his Facebook audience to rate their understanding of the platform as ‘Advanced’, ‘Intermediate’ and ‘Beginner’ and then serves messaging according to their feedback.
In a traditional management set-up, remarketing data is controlled by advertising agencies, labels and marketeers but in order for this data to be used more effectively, managers need to start getting more hands-on with their artists’ digital assets. Remarketing data is largely non-transferable and linked with the advertising account and its associated pixel. This creates a challenge for managers who wish to control data beyond the traditional album cycle and recognise the ongoing importance of harnessing this extremely powerful intellectual property.
Typically, the management of remarketing data has been organised in a linear workflow as outlined in the diagram below.
Current workflow employed by the industry:
However, if a manager was to create his or her own centralised remarketing workflow, it would open up a wealth of ongoing opportunities that would have otherwise not have existed.
Centralised remarketing workflow:
So how can managers with limited digital advertising experience set up their own centralised workflow and start to control their remarketing data? A starting point would be to create pixel containers (Google Tag Manager, Segment etc.), digital advertising accounts (Facebook, Google AdWords, Twitter etc.) and a short link creation account that will allow them to insert pixels (Linkfire, Found.ee, SmartURL, and Geniuslink to name only a few). Facebook offers the ability for advertisers to share Audiences with other ad accounts and businesses. In the above example, Audiences could be shared to achieve different goals, i.e. the agent promoting the show, the label promoting the album.
In most cases, managers do not run digital advertising campaigns and they should not get overwhelmed if this is the case. The need for a digital advertising account is merely to access a pixel (code) so that data can start to be gathered. Only once a manager is comfortable with the process of gathering information should they explore the possibilities of segmenting this data and beginning to build targeting pools.
A pixel container is used to manage individual pixels from multiple advertising accounts and various partners (labels, advertising agencies etc.). By using a container, multiple pixels can be managed with a single piece of code. This code can be inserted into an artist’s online presence (website, short link tool, newsletter, etc.) and each time a new member is added to that team, their pixels can be added to the container (rather than having to update each individual web property when changes to the team occur). In a similar fashion, if a member of the team is removed, their access to the flow of data can be revoked.
These are not technologies that are likely to phase out and will certainly not become less intelligent. Throughout the remainder of 2016 and well into 2017, it’s likely we will see a huge influx of companies offering social sign-in technology; the ability to ‘listen’ to what a fan is doing in-program (rather than on their owned media). These technologies are currently too expensive to be used by managers and the industry at large but as competition increases and prices get driven down, they too are likely to form a highly valuable proposition for the industry and those that control artist data.
As consumer habits within the music industry continue to shift and our ability to understand an artist’s audience beyond traditional means becomes more advanced, it is crucial that this data is controlled from the top of a manager’s hierarchy. This is in part due to the one thing which nobody in an artist’s team has control over – time.
With new tools and technologies being built at an unfathomable rate that can give managers a greater understanding of (and potential to upsell to) their artists’ fanbase, it’s important that artists and managers do more to establish efficient digital workflows to build meaningful relationships with fans and safeguard future success. Start now or get left behind!
Dan Griffiths speaks on Midem’s final Wrap session (June 6, 14.30) with fellow Midem Label Ambassadors from Warp Records, Absolute Label Services, Communion Music and Kobalt/AWAL. Check out all of our Label Ambassadors’ posts to date here!