A new joint report by record labels body – the BPI, and ERA – the Entertainment Retailers Association – “Magic Numbers – How Can Data and Analytics Really Help the Music Industry?” examines how improved understanding of the way fans discover, play and share songs and albums in the streaming era now increasingly shapes how music is produced and promoted.  Read the report here.

Music streaming services such as Spotify and Apple Music have helped recorded music return to growth, while YouTube has more than a billion people a month watching music videos, and social networks including Facebook and Twitter have become important channels for record labels and artists. These platforms are also huge generators of information, and the spur for a new challenge for the music industry: how best to process, understand and act on the billions of lines of data that they are providing.

The report, authored by Music Ally’s Eamonn Forde, was presented to music industry executives at the BPI & ERA’s latest joint Insight Session on 9th July.  The event, chaired by Music Ally CEO Paul Brindley, also saw presentations by Lucy Blair (Spotify UK), Chaz Jenkins (Chartmetric.io), Conrad Withey (Instrumental), and Niclas Molinder (Auddly).  The report was then discussed by a panel comprising Holly Manners (Warner Bros. Records), Kevin Bacon (BLOCKPOOL), Justin Barker ([PIAS]), Phil Bird (Vistex), and Martin Talbot (Official Charts Company).

Kim Bayley, Chief Executive Entertainment Retailers Association (ERA), said: “Digital services have helped recorded music return to growth, but their greatest contribution may yet turn out to be the data they generate about fans’ preferences and music listening habits. Not only does this allow them to hone their services, optimise playlists and create new, value-added offerings, it takes some of the guesswork out of a typically hit and miss business. Data has always been an important element of what retailers bring to the music business, the Official Charts is built on retail data after all, but digital services take it to another level.

Geoff Taylor, Chief Executive BPI & BRIT Awards, said: “The UK’s exceptional success in producing global hit records is powered by the natural talent of its artists backed relentless label investment and innovative, expert promotion. Increasingly, however, as streaming comes to dominate music consumption, data is also becoming key to the process of producing and marketing music.  If data is a new coalface, then the key is to know where the richest seams are and how to extract maximum value from them, so that they fuel greater engagement with fans and greater success for our future business.

The BPI/ERA report, authored by Music Ally, evaluates the role of data from a number of perspectives, beginning with introductions by Kim Bayley, CEO ERA, and Geoff Taylor, CEO BPI, and an executive summary. It then looks at how data has come of age – how music is now being discovered, consumed and shared, and how this data can be processed and navigated to produce actionable insights. The report goes on to take a closer look at the main digital service providers – the likes of Spotify, Apple Music and YouTube – before focusing on the role data plays in the Official Charts.  The report offers practical tips for music companies and also highlights the latest data start-up companies.