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Music Industry Goes Data-mining

June 12, 2011

This was an interesting article from The Economist about how the music industry is moving to turn-to rather than away from the the web and networked technology:

Yet music companies do not expect Apple or any other technological behemoth to save them. Few believe recorded music is about to rebound, despite healthy digital sales for two singers, Adele and Lady Gaga, in the past few weeks. To stay afloat, they need to drive down costs without crippling their core business. Quietly, technology is allowing them to do this, too.

Online music outfits such as iTunes, Spotify and YouTube bring in much less money than CD sales. But they produce far more precise, timely data. Every time a track is uploaded to or played on YouTube, every time it is sold by iTunes, streamed on Spotify, shared on a pirate network, liked on Facebook or tweeted about, it gives off a digital signal. A cottage industry has sprung up to process these signals and feed the results to the record companies.

This is already shaping strategies. Universal, the world’s biggest music company, is developing its own data-crunching tool, known as the Artist Portal. Data from the portal have proved what many had suspected: that the decades-old practice of releasing music to radio weeks before putting it on sale feeds piracy and saps sales. So, earlier this year, it stopped the practice for many releases.

Like biology is turning to data-flow to power new advances, so it seems is the music business. This is not surprise, as technology has long offered it a chance to re-interpret its relationship with fans:

Because peer-to-peer networks lower the cost of moving large files to a fraction of what they are with the client-server, central-index networks, they dramatically expanding the ability of ordinary people and noncommercial entities to speak in the digital age, to distribute video and other content in new and innovative ways.

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