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What Artists Should Know About Next Big Sound

Next Big Sound

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.

Features

Key Metrics

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.

Spotify Connect Graph

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.

NBS Tweet

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

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!

Uses

Now that you’ve got all that information at your fingertips, what do you do with it?

Me, not much. It’s just… interesting.

Localized Plays

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:

Goals

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?)

Musicmetric

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.

Musicmetric Daily Ranking

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:

Musicmetric File Sharing

Conclusion

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!

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5 Comments

  • Reply
    Freeks
    November 1, 2014 at 1:34 pm

    “I get the most Spotify plays in Sweden? ”
    Spotify is big only in Sweden so “everybody” is big in Sweden 😉

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      November 2, 2014 at 2:58 pm

      That’s definitely a factor, if not *the* factor, but I do get a lot of iTunes sales from Sweden as well.

  • Reply
    Andrea
    November 20, 2014 at 4:52 pm

    It is always interesting to see in what part of the world your music is purchased. My husbands music has been purchased in places like New Zealand and quite frankly I think it’s the coolest thing!

  • Reply
    Wei Xu
    February 9, 2015 at 11:32 pm

    So, the algos are going to self-reinforce commercial success as the only measure of musical and artistic achievement and we will get what we deserve as an audience: skynet designed soul less crap even more than we have today. No five minute songs, artists! Skynet forbids it. This is terrible for everyone in music except the business people.

    • Reply
      Brian Hazard
      February 10, 2015 at 2:12 pm

      Maybe when you complete your “artist integrity” algorithm, you can sell it to them for big bucks! Bonus points for not being on Wikipedia.

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