Big data and the music industry
Mark Stent · Jan 14, 2022
For a long time, the music industry suffered from the internet boom, failing to keep up with the fast pace of technology growth. As a result, musicians and labels sustained damage due to piracy and a decline in physical record sales.
Then streaming came along, allowing music consumers to legally and cheaply listen to music. The era of ‘Big Data’ had begun…
Spotify currently boasts 365 million users and is mainly responsible for changing the current music landscape. Spotify uses massive amounts of data to track music, analyse listening patterns and recommend new music to their users. As a result, it has allowed unknown independent artists to find their way into the ears of new fans without having controlling record labels take most of their royalties. Music fans can now hear more of what they like best when they want it.
‘Big data’ has also changed how music scouts find new talent. ‘Artist & Repertoire (A&R) have been responsible for finding the ‘next big thing’ in the music industry. Algorithms and data mining has allowed A & R managers to spend their budgets on artists the world wants to hear and see. It lets them know what genre is prevalent, where people want to listen to it, and when. This allows for accurate targeting of releases and tour schedules.
The data scientists at hitlab.com have built an algorithm that can predict the probability of a hit. Trained on previous hit singles from features such as song key, lyrics, tempo, and genre, the algorithm can predict a song’s chances to do well on the worldwide charts. On the downside, musical popularity has reduced to a formula and points towards music becoming more generic and star status available to anyone who works with the recipe. It will be interesting to see how traditional musicians react to this.
In many cases, the difference between a hit record and an unsigned record is the recording and audio processing quality. ‘Mastering’ is the final stage in the music production process. It gives songs the professional shine and loudness heard on all significant records. Unfortunately, this process is far too expensive for most independent musicians even to consider. Enter landr.com; a startup focused on automating this process at a fraction of the cost. ‘Synapse’, their AI-powered engine, analyses each song and gives it instant polish and professionalism at a price that meets the users budget. Effectively, this process ‘equalises’ independent and unknown artists with the big and popular hit machines.
The way music is made, distributed, consumed, and experienced is evolving almost daily. Record labels will slowly disappear in their current state and evolve. Artists will take more control of where their music is consumed and how they are paid (maustrack.com allows users to track their radio support and hold music royalty organisations accountable). AI-based music will make music creation more accessible. Music concerts and shows will become more interactive (the Metaverse) and be more experience-based.
It’s an exciting time.