Steve wrote a great introduction to analytics for musicians a few months ago, which I’ve just updated and added in some extra links. Start there before reading this ‘Analytics for Musicians – Part 2′. Once you’re au fait with the concept of looking at data about your online activity this post should add a few more pointers.
What else is there to analysing your online efforts and what can you actually do with this information?
Data Analysis for Musicians
So, now we know that tools exist that will tell us a lot about the people that are connecting with your online output. This might be promotional and marketing efforts if you are so inclined (which you should be) but you might just think of it as posting information that people who like your music might find useful. Whichever it is, being able to see what things that you post get the most readers, where they are from, when they come to your site or Facebook, how long they stay, what they don’t bother looking at and a whole host of other data that you now know how to collect will help you refine your methods.
In simple terms, if you discover that more than half of your fans on your Facebook Page are in the US, even though you are an English band, then you should be posting on Facebook when those people are awake – not at the times that suit you in the UK. And such simple and obvious steps will have a marked effect on how many people see, read and interact with whatever messages/music/videos you post online.
You’ll also be able to see what types of content your fans like the most – be that photos, audio, video, or rambling long posts about your studio sessions. And, of course, you’ll be able to see where they most want to read, listen or watch it, be that your site or one of the social network pages you maintain.
Our preferred method is always to drive people back to your site where you can control your message and what you would like a fan to do but knowing that your fans love your videos and discover them on YouTube means you can focus on methods that get them from YouTube to your site. You should then of course also focus on creating as much video content as possible to keep those fans satisfied.
Simon at the Sentric blog has a great article that looks at other examples of how tracking and analysing your data can inform your next steps. Read that here. I particularly like his insights into how URL shorteners help you know who’s clicking on your links as a way to track downloads and his emphasis on blog stats for your most popular posts.
Other valuable fan metrics
As well as the analysis we looked at in ‘Part 1′, there are plenty of other places that will tell you a lot of really important stuff about your fans and how to get the most out of all your interactions with them.
Probably the most important of these is the data you can glean and react to from the people who have joined your email list. We have written a lot about the need to have a fan mailing list here and we continue to preach that this is the key way you have to reach your fans. Read those posts to see why.
Our favoured options for email software are Aweber or Topspin – perhaps even combining the two. They’re both great systems that allow you to collect all sorts of information about how fans have reacted to your emails that you’ve sent them. Things like how many opened the email, how many clicked any links in the email, what times of day get the most clicks and opens.
Generally this will allow you to sub-divide your list and resend emails to those people who haven’t opened the initial email after a few days. This can often double the number of opens. Of course you can test a small section of your mailing list with a test email to see if a headline / subject line is effective before mailing to the whole list as well. The data that you get from such a test can massively help when sending to the whole list and thereby sell more tickets to a show or more downloads.
But they can also tell you general data about the people who joined your mailing list – things like where they are in the world, what device they used (a PC or a mobile – very useful to know incidentally) and in some cases further info about their age and sex.
In this screenshot from Aweber you can see that the data tells us the location of the people on the mailing list by state or county. Not all the information is available for every fan but it’s very good info to have at your fingertips.
Clearly, this could help inform your choices on where to tour. Of course, world-class email software like Aweber will also let you email to only those people in such sub-sections meaning that your data analysis has allowed far more locally targeted marketing.
Since Topspin ties fan data to purchase data (of products offered on your site via the Topspin system), the Topspin email system allows you to see the amount every fan has spent with you – meaning that you can send emails only to those who are ‘super fans’ and are therefore likely to take up a high priced offer, such as a private gig at their home. This image from the Topspin account of one of our clients shows exactly that data revealing the ‘big spending’ fans.
Analysing this data about your email subscribers and drilling down into it can reveal best practice about the content of your emails, the timing of mailshots, the format of the email (html or plain text) and what device they should be optimised for. One of our clients gets a massive proportion of their emails opened on iPhones, well over 50%, so we make sure that the email looks great on those smaller screens and keep text to a minimum and add some big buttons for the links we’d hope the fans will click.
The other metric that we love to track is airplay. We’ve written about the radio airplay monitoring Kollector tool before and it is an amazing tool to have at the fingertips of DIY or indie musicians. Read the piece and see how knowing where your music is being played can obviously be a massive help to your musical aspirations. This service used to be free but is now 12.5 Euros per month for 10 songs – which we think is a price well worth paying!
Pulling all the data Together
The good news is that a lot, if not quite all, of these disparate streams of data can be pulled together by using another suite of tools.
Next Big Sound and Buzzdeck are the market leaders and used by most major and indie labels and top flight managers to track and correlate all this data. Next Big Sound has a free option but charges for it’s premier service at $79 per month per artist. At this level you can drill down to such features as fan density maps, localisation info and email data. The free version doesn’t have any of the detailed information but it does give a good basic overview of how the various streams of data fit together. It’s worth using even just for the free version.
Our favourite tool for this data aggregation, filtering and interpreting is Buzzdeck. It may not be a completely fair assessment but it’s simply because this is the tool that we use most often and have the greatest amount of experience with. It’s great – it ties all your data from pretty much every online source together and helps you see how events relate to each other. For example, you can see real time iTunes sales data and plot it against anything else, such as a YouTube video. So, you can upload a video and see if it stimulates sales.
It also allows for lots of very accurate location data driven by the IP location of your fans. This is incredibly useful in seeing, for example, where your fans are watching you on YouTube. Buzzdeck is a paid service, but we think it’s worth it if you’re making any money at all from your music.
Watch their video below:
Our experience of Music Metric and Rock Dex is fleeting but their users speak very highly of them and you should definitely check them out before committing to one system. They’re both paid and have different pricing options depending on your requirements.
In the end, we think you’d be well served by any of these analytic tools and the step for the DIY musician is not in deciding which set of data to track and how to do it, but in accepting that by doing so you’ll learn a huge amount about your fans and therefore how to promote and market your music to them to best effect.
We’d love to know any of your experiences, successes or failures that you’ve had in tracking your metrics. Let us know in the comments below.
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