Perhaps you don’t sell too many albums on iTunes, or have that many SoundCloud plays or YouTube views. But maybe, just maybe, your music is really popular in some far off corner of the digital universe you never even knew about, and all that “exposure” you’ve racked up over the years is paying off behind the scenes.
Next Big Sound provides detailed online music analytics to measure the growth of bands on streaming services and social networks. It doesn’t cover everything, but it casts a wide enough net to shatter an artist’s dreams with cold, hard data. I know it did mine! <sniff>
Cidney at NBS agreed to give me an artist credit for one month so that I could write this article, way back in April. Hopefully she’ll forget to downgrade my account.
The screenshot above shows a dozen “key metrics” of my choosing. It’s an easy way to focus on what’s important to me, and not get bogged down in all those numbers. So for example, I could replace Rdio plays with Vine loops, Last.fm shouts, or unique pageviews of my website.
You can drill down further by tracking those metrics across individual pieces of content. Here I’ve compared Spotify plays of four songs over a two-month period.
The overview page includes a timeline with each of my social media updates and their performance.
There are way too many features for me to cover, and way too much data for me to explore. It’s like Google Analytics for music. Did I mention it connects with your Google Analytics account?
Pricing starts at $20/month for one artist credit, for the full smorgasbord of data. Much of that data can be found on the individual sites in question, so that may seem a little steep for the convenience of seeing it all in one place.
I recommend at least signing up for a free account to view your Spotify plays. Once you’ve created the account, request access to your Spotify data here.
UPDATE 12/9/14: Today Next Big Sound launched a major redesign, and made all profiles free!
Now that you’ve got all that information at your fingertips, what do you do with it?
Me, not much. It’s just… interesting.
I mean, who would’ve guessed that when normalized by “Popoulation” [sic], I get the most Spotify plays in Sweden? And tracking Wikipedia pageviews is just brilliant.
I use NBS the same way I use my investment brokerage account. Every now and then, I take a peek and make sure there are no surprises.
I can see how it would be really useful for labels, to determine which acts to invest in or drop, scout for new signings, or choose what cities to book for a tour.
If I were more focused, I could set a goal, like so:
An Incomplete Picture
While Next Big Sound tracks a mountain of data, it’s still missing key information:
- Sales data from iTunes, Bandcamp, CD Baby, or TuneCore
- Most digital radio and subscription services: Pandora, Sirius XM, iTunes Radio, Beats, Deezer, Rhapsody, etc
- Music blog popularity (perhaps they could partner with Hypem?)
Next Big Sound’s chief competitor, Musicmetric, allows you to email an iTunes data file for inclusion. Not that I have one of those.
UPDATE 2/2/16: Musicmetric was acquired by Apple, and the site poofed! Guess that simplifies matters.
I haven’t messed around with Musicmetric enough to do a full head-to-head, but two distinguishing features jumped out at me.
Every band in the Musicmetric database is assigned a ranking, so I can watch my standing with the rest of the musical world deteriorate on a daily basis. Right now I’m 5723, which is up from 6581 yesterday, so I shouldn’t complain.
It also tracks file sharing activity on BitTorrent, because sharing is caring. While no one cares about me, my friends Faded Paper Figures are seeing some action:
You should absolutely give Next Big Sound a shot, if only to track your Spotify plays. It’s eye-opening and bubble-bursting at the same time.
Have you tried Next Big Sound or Musicmetric? Which do you prefer? How do you use them? Let me know in the comments!