The Jango Focus Group

Jango Airplay

Devo got loads of press by letting fans choose everything from the songs on their new album to the color of their hats. If you’re secure enough to make your own wardrobe decisions, you can get useful feedback on your songs by conducting a focus group on Jango. It only cost me $75 to play 12 of my songs to targeted listeners 3,000 times in a single day. The information I gleaned helped me select which track would open my new album, and persuaded me to cut two others.

Jango added tons of useful features since I first wrote about it back in April of 2009. In a nutshell, you pay to have your music played alongside big name acts on an internet radio site boasting 7 million listeners. While it’s far from perfect, it’s the best passive promotion that I know of. I’ve invested nearly $1,000 of my own money in Jango campaigns over the past year and a half, and reinvested everything earned from my affiliate link (please use it if you’re not already signed up – you’ll get 100 free plays), maybe $500. I doubt I made all that money back in sales, but dozens of Jango listeners bought albums, friended me on Facebook, and followed me on Twitter. 138 of them volunteered their email addresses, which I immediately added to my mailing list. In other words, Jango listeners are real people who may become real fans.

Conducting the focus group isn’t much different from any other Jango campaign:

  1. Set your targets. If you only want to hear from female fans of The National, age 25-34, you can do that. I only used the free “basic geo targeting” to select the countries I routinely receive physical CD orders from. Your most important decision is which artists to target. Rather than opting for the old-school 80’s synthpop bands like Depeche Mode and New Order, I focused on current electronic acts like Owl City and La Roux.
  2. Upload your material. Two of my new album tracks were already playing on Jango, so I emailed airplay@jango.com to give them links to new mp3s for those tracks, plus the other 10. I also asked them to remove all but three of my earlier songs. Erin responded within a few hours, and within two days, all my new songs were live and the old ones disabled.
  3. Allocate plays. If you’ve already allocated credits to some of your focus group songs, you should remove those and wait a day to separate your old results from your focus group numbers. Then allocate plays evenly across the songs in question. I bought 4,000 plays for $100, then allocated 250 per song = 3,000 plays.
  4. Pace your plays. I allocated my plays at midnight EST, selected “fastest possible,” and burned through all 3,000 by mid-afternoon. Would slower pacing produce better results? My guess is that it would, but that’s just a hunch.
  5. Tally the scores. When your allocated plays run out, go to Reports/Play Stats and select your focus group songs one at a time from the drop-down menu on the right. Calculate the percentage of song likes to total plays, rather than just paid plays, since some organic plays will likely be mixed in as well.
  6. Remove the songs. Email airplay@jango.com and ask them to remove all the songs, except perhaps the top scorers. You don’t want your fans previewing the whole album before release! I didn’t mention my focus group to anyone, and it flew completely under the radar.

Your results may surprise you! My absolute favorite track was the least liked, with a 7% like/play ratio (no, it doesn’t have a bridge). A song that I thought was good-not-great was the clear winner at 14.5%. In the name of science, I ran the exact same campaign again. There was some movement, but the general trend was the same.

So did I cut my favorite song from the album? No way! It was one of the two songs that were on Jango before the focus group, and those two got the lowest scores. My guess is that some of the listeners already heard the song, and maybe even clicked the “like” button previously. Scoring those two songs by all-time likes over all-time plays helped bring them in line with the rest.

The vast majority of plays on my Bandcamp page are the first track of my latest album, so any song in that position needs to be a grabber! My focus group unequivocally told me which song to use, and made me feel secure in my decision to cut two of the weaker tracks, which I’ll save for a follow-up EP. As a side benefit, I got three pages of new comments on my profile, and 23 listeners shared their email addresses over the course of the two campaigns.

My all-time stats: 91103 plays (73682 paid), 8067 total likes, 3275 fans, 3352 views

For more information on Jango and similar services, see my other articles:
Why I Still Use Jango

Is Jango Payola?
What Artists Should Know About Jango
What Artists Should Know About Earbits
Is a Last.fm Powerplay Campaign Right for You?

12 thoughts on “The Jango Focus Group”

  1. Brian,

    This is very cool and insighful. I’m looking forward to doing a smaller push here on Jango Radio and thank you for sharing your adventures of independant music production!

  2. Brian, you’ve inspired me to give Jango another go, thank you! Love this post.

    Do you have any thoughts on Broadjam and Soundout? I’ve tried both, and thought they were good. I’m just dipping my toes into all this stuff, though, because my album STILL isn’t done. Argh. In the meantime, however, I have finished a 4-song EP with a friend. It’s called Deep Salvage and you can check it out at

    http://deepsalvage.bandcamp.com

    Also, if anyone reading wants to offer his or her opinion on Deep Salvage, I would love to hear it — scathing or positive! To weigh in, please visit my blog at http://www.cerebellumblues.com (the blog name refers to my stupid brain injury).

    Jeff

  3. Hey Brian,

    First of all I’d like to say it’s a brilliant use of Jango. A really clever one, I guess almost no one expected that. Everybody there on Jango is focused on fan growth and fame (just read the discussions going around the popScore). You really used it as a powerfull marketing tool, such as the ones which are dedicated to that kind of result, but with a far better result. Congrats.

    I’d like now to focus on the way you used it, and the goals you explain. It reminds me a guy who complained in one of your other articles : Is it art or commerce ? You get rid of the bridge, you get rid of the less liked songs. You’re seeking grabbers, not growers. I’m shure some are going to clearly complain about it. Devo asked for the colour of their hats, you asked for the grabbers and the tracklist. But I think you’re right trying to find out your own “creep”.

    This is a choice and I can understand it. I even think it’s probably the smartest choice any “newcomer” indie can do. You talked about radiohead’s “creep”. Of course radiohead is nothing without creep. And I think all this purpose is about finding our “Creep”. Even Radiohead can’t do it again… Anyway, it was just to say the point is not to discuss about your own goal. And I know you’re not into finding easy grabbers only ;)

    So this article is about Jango, of course, but also a way of defining your own goals and try to succeed in them… A very good insight. I don’t have much more to say…

    Just one note about this :
    “The vast majority of plays on my Bandcamp page are the first track of my latest album”. It’s also the same for my last album. People mainly listen to the first track, then fade away with the other ones. Change the tracklist, I guess the most listened track will be the first one. Did you use any stat or something to think it was the best track ?

    See you ;)

  4. Thanks for the kind words!

    Jeff, I’ve never heard of Soundout, but I was a Broadjam member for a few years, only because it allowed me to submit songs to Taxi online (before Taxi.com added the feature). I visited recently and saw some nice film/TV opportunities, but I think Sonicbids is superior in that regard. I have mixed feelings on Sonicbids overall, but it’s getting better.

    I read about your injury and scanned your blog. Way to turn lemons into lemonade! It makes for an interesting story, and I anticipate a happy ending when you fully recover. “More Good Than Harm” summarizes your experience in a universal way, which of course makes a lot of sense unless your demographic is brain injury sufferers. ;)

    Laurent, for my previous album I set up my own focus group of 12 friends/fans. There were 15 songs, but I only presented the 7 to them that I was willing to drop. I cut three to include 12 songs on the album, sequenced in a way that made sense to me musically. Track 1 was my favorite, but definitely not a grower. I didn’t want to make that mistake again this time. If there’s a “Creep” in my new album’s tracklist, I want people to hear it! It just so happens that this track really does make a great opener, so I don’t feel I’m sacrificing anything musicially.

  5. Brian,

    As always, you share brilliant usage of marketing science, music production, and creative passion. As a marketing guy by day, and songwriter…some day soon, again…I’m a huge fan. Great technique, great actionable results — you’re already 10x smarter than the average label exec. :)

  6. Brian,

    Thanks for replying! If you check out Soundout, let me what you think.

    In the meantime, what’s your current take on Taxi? I’m considering joining, but it seems like the only Taxi customers with any success are the ones used in Taxi’s testimonials. No one else seem to think much of the service, which makes me a little suspicious.

    Jeff

  7. Oh yeah, I’ve seen Soundout before! Based on a quick looksee, I’d personally prefer to use Jango as I describe here, and/or pay for individual Taxi critiques at $5 a pop for detailed suggestions.

    My Taxi subscription expires in a week, and while I haven’t had any luck in 12 years, I’d be willing to try again if I can get a referral or two. The critiques are usually helpful, often painfully helpful if you know what I mean! ;) I’d say look at the listings and see if there are some good matches. The Road Rally alone is worth the price of admission, plus you can take a guest. But if you can’t make the rally and none of the listings excite you, you might want to hold off. If you do decide to sign up, I’d appreciate it if you could mention my name. You’ll get 5 free submissions and they’ll knock $100 off my renewal.

    I wrote about Taxi in more detail here:

    http://passivepromotion.com/12-years-with-taxi

  8. A master stroke to use Jango to pick the opening track on the album.

    It’s also a great idea to send you fans a free song and get them to pick from a list of four. Whichever song you pick will be the same song but you will be able to work out which song title matches most with your fans.

    Hope that make sense,

    AirHammer

  9. That’s a smart way to nail down a song title! I tend to start my songs from a title, which makes them tricky to adjust after the fact.

    Now that the album has been out almost two weeks, I can safely say that the Jango-crowdsourced selection was indeed the best choice for opening the album. It seems to be the most consistently liked track, but then again, maybe that’s just because being track 1 provides a credibility boost!

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