Learn more about the key role data can play in a successful artist's career, as well as how you can use the AWAL Analytics Tool to gain an understanding into your streams, your fans, and your career.
In the world of digital music, artists and their teams have access to a plethora of statistics, analytics, and data points. While it may seem intimidating, the data you have access to in relation to your streaming activity and releases can be a huge asset to not only your marketing campaign, but also your career as a whole. In this article we’ll look at some of the most important data points the AWAL Analytics Tool has to offer for an artist and we’ll discuss what those points actually mean in the real world and how you might use them. If you’re frightened of numbers - take a deep breath & relax - you’ll see very quickly how much of an asset data can be for you in the endeavour of understanding your streams, fans, and music career.
The most basic of all the data points in your Analytics Tool is your stream count. This shows you how many streams you have had over a particular period of time. In the tool, you can view the streaming data and counts for your overall catalogue total or filter by track for a more specific view. The Analytics Tool highlights this figure both as a number count as well as in a graph visual, allowing you to easily track your streaming progress over a set period of time. The graphic imagery gives you an opportunity to delve into the growth of your catalogue and can easily highlight any major spikes or dips in streams to help you better understand what type of content and real-life events have resonated most with your audience. For example, if you released a music video on a specific date, you may notice a spike in your streams for that track before the graph plateaus once more as the days/weeks go on.
Whilst your stream count is definitely important, you should also pay attention to actionable metrics, which can help inform future decisions you make that can actually have an impact on your growth. Let’s take a look at one of these metrics: engagement, the holy grail of data.
With the explosion of playlists, both editorial and personalized, it is becoming harder and harder to cut through the noise and increase fan acquisition. Whilst your stream count might be really high from an addition to a large playlist, the actual engagement with the track can be really low. Here’s a real life example to put engagement into perspective: you’re having friends over for dinner and you find the perfect editorial playlist on your favorite streaming service as background music for the occasion - how often do you actually pay attention to what song is being played let alone the actual artist? Even more telling, how often do you then add this track to one of your personal playlists or save it to your library?
The AWAL Analytics Tool gives you insight into your engaged & lean back streaming data and activity. Engaged streams are streams that originate from an artist page, album or track pages, or directly from a user’s library or personal playlists. Think of these streams as a vote of long-term confidence in your music. Lean-back streams, on the other hand, are streams that originate from an editorial playlist or radio station, such as in the example we gave above. Ideally, you want a healthy mix of the two types of streams. Editorial playlists & placements in stations on the digital services will help increase the visibility of your release while a high count of engaged streams shows the services that you have an engaged fanbase that sits off-platform and genuinely loves your music.
To view the engaged & lean back streams you have, it is crucial to look at the engagement % alongside your total stream count in AWAL Analytics and take action accordingly. As an example, if you see a high lean-back stream count it may be a little worrying as it might indicate that for one reason or another fans aren’t choosing to engage with your music despite all of your off-platform efforts. A metric like this then may prompt you to start a ‘follow’ campaign or run a contest that requires fans to save your new track to their library to enter.
Another engagement metric you’ll want to dig into is that of saves. The more saves you have for a track, the more ‘engaged’ your fanbase is. When a fan ‘saves’ your release/track, it means they want your music to live in their library to listen to again and again - this is the ultimate engaged fan move. One way to increase these saves straight off the bat is by running a pre-save campaign prior to release. Be sure to review our last article about running a successful pre-save here.
A final engagement metric to consider when reviewing your data is that of the skip and completion rates - only currently visible for Spotify in AWAL Analytics. The skip rate is calculated as the % of streams that were skipped before the 30 second point in your track. The completion rate is the % of streams that had a streamed duration longer than 95% of the total track length. These rates can be used to determine how engaged fans are with a specific track, and may inform the type of singles you want to release moving forward.
Completion and skip rates can be very informative on their own as mentioned, but also in relation to analyzing the playlists your tracks are placed on. While it’s impossible to see the skip rate of a track within a particular playlist, one can make the assumption that if your skip rate is particularly high it’s plausible the track might not be sitting in the right playlists. As an example, genre & mood focused playlists will usually generate high completion rates & low skip rates due to the listening nature of these lists - generally background music. It is also important to note that high turnaround, new release playlists (generally updated on a weekly basis) tend to have high skip rates as the general listener habit is to skip through them to hear snippets of all the new tracks out in a particular week.
Whilst these engagement metrics might appear daunting in isolation, it’s important to look at them all as a whole to help you start to understand the fuller picture of how well your track is actually performing on the digital services. Engagement data is extremely important to analyzing your career, but be sure to keep in mind this is an aggregate data point. While you obviously should care about the mass audience data you can get from reviewing your stream and engagement statistics, its also vital to pay attention to the finer, smaller details which can be viewed within audience data.
One of the most important insights data can provide to artists is the ability to gain an understanding of who and where your audience is and what songs are connecting with them the most. This kind of information can help inform decisions about how you market tracks, who you’re marketing to and where in the world to tour and promote your music. You can view demographic information such as gender ratios, age groups, and in what territories your music is being streamed most in the AWAL Analytics Tool.
It might be really interesting to use this audience data to see how different age groups and gender interact with your music on streaming services and compare it with your audience metrics on your social media channels. This can help you refine your promotion moving forward and can help you make decisions if and when you decide to put some money into digital advertising.
Territory information can also be especially useful. While larger countries such as the UK and US tend to have a large influence on stream counts, you might start seeing that countries such as Brazil and the Philippines begin creeping into your top 5 most streamed territories. Chartmetric’s blog on Trigger Cities is particularly insightful and one of the main takeaways is that Latin American and South/Southeast Asian cities tend to engage with new or emerging artists more rapidly than other territories, irrespective of an artist’s home market. Bottom line: don’t ignore high stream counts/activity in non-home territories as, “the amount of streaming activity coming from some of these cities may have the power to influence the hits of tomorrow”.
Data is one of the greatest gifts for an artist in the digital music space. Data points, when used properly, can successfully inform promotional plans, touring paths, and help artists and their teams better understand their audience as well as the trajectory of specific releases. Treating data as your friend then, rather than seeing it as an enemy, will help you take another step forward not only in your current project & campaign, but in your incredibly exciting career as a whole. You’re ready to go, analyze on!
Article Author: Victoria Stuart (Director, Label Management)