The heavy metal data analytics win that wasn't

Iron Maiden was reported to have innovated the music business by using big data analytics to plan tours
Written by David Worthington, Contributor

 Word that the British heavy metal band Iron Maiden had used data analytics on piracy data to inform its touring plans has turned out to be false, but microtargeting could be an effective took for bands to maximize show profits.

Yesterday, Rolling Stone published an article that said the legendary rock act had leveraged BitTorrent data from an analytics firm called Musicmetric to identify where piracy was rampant. The story went on that the band then booked shows at those locations in Latin and South America, assuming there was high fan interest.

It’s a good story and sounds plausible. However, the rock magazine has since "Run to the Hills" because its source was a reblogged article based upon an original report from The Guardian. Musicmetric is disavowing the re-reblogged report as of today.

Regardless of the article’s veracity, it makes sense for bands to use data analytics, because it’s difficult for artists to profit off of their work (while distributors do).

For instance, Pink Floyd reunited for an op-ed trashing Pandora’s revenue model as a pay cut for artists. Radiohead has soured on alternatives to piracy including the pay-what-you-want scheme that it once advocated as a solution. Most of its fans freeloaded and downloaded its albums without paying. Spotify, a music subscription app, innovated distribution but commoditized music, singer Thom York said.

That leaves touring, and there are many technologies that can query data based on conditions such as ‘downloads’ and ‘location’ to produce useful reports or heat maps to plan tours more intelligently than ever before. 

Disclosure: I worked in sales and marketing at data analytics middleware company ScaleOut Software several years ago, but have no financial interest in it anymore.

(image credit: duke.edu)

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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