The lack of data and analytic intelligence made it harder to spot trends and more difficult for artists, record labels and venues to navigate the industry. “We were wandering in the dark,” says Umek.
Enter Slovenian start-up Viberate. Founded in 2015 by DJ Umek and his two managers, Vasja Veber and Matej Gregorčič, the platform gathers data from major streaming sites, global ticket vendors and 24,000 radio stations across 150 countries and translates this into an online profile for musicians.
The start-up aims to revolutionize the use of data in the music business. “The music industry is one of the coolest industries out there, but statistics not so much, and we’re joining those two worlds together,” Veber explains.
Viberate’s online dashboard offers a range of insights, including chart rankings, social media engagement and fanbase demographics. For the 500,000 artists around the world who use the platform, for a fee of €59 ($66) per month, the dashboard can help them understand where to focus their promotional efforts.
“I always go and compare my profile to other similar artists … and then there’s a clear sign of where I should invest more time, maybe more money, in a platform or in social media so it will help my career,” says Umek.
Transforming the industry
Tatiana Cirisano is a music industry consultant and analyst at entertainment intelligence company MIDiA Research. She believes we are witnessing an emerging trend where, rather than releasing music videos for singles ahead of an album release, artists increasingly “release their albums, go on social media, check the analytics, figure out what songs people seem to like the most and then from there say ‘this is the single, and this is the one that we’re going to put our music video budget behind.'”
As well as artists, Viberate has 150,000 venues and 6,000 festivals using the site, most notably Insomniac, America’s biggest promoter of electronic music festivals, and the UK’s Glastonbury Festival.
Analytics has also transformed how record labels operate, says Cirisano. “Data has completely changed the way that talent scouts at labels work,” she observes. In the past, scouts “used to go to gigs and listen to artist demos that got mailed in on a CD … They’d go with a gut feeling,” whereas the process has now changed to “looking at data, looking at an artist who seems to maybe be bubbling up and how many streams they get per month.”
By recognizing the importance of data, music is following in the footsteps of other industries. “The movies have IMDb and the tourism industry has Airbnb and Booking.com, and those services were aggregating the entire industry,” says Viberate’s co-founder Veber.
Viberate is one of several data analytics companies aimed at the music industry, including Chartmetric, Soundcharts and Songstats. But some worry that too much focus on data analytics could compromise music’s inventiveness. “The music industry is inherently a creative place,” says Cirisano. “This is art that we’re talking about. It’s really hard to take an overly quantitative approach to that.”
Instead, she advocates that data be “a jumping off point” by which artists, labels and venues make their decisions. DJ Umek takes it a step further and argues that “data doesn’t kill creativity, it complements it.”
Looking to the future, Viberate’s goal is for every musician to be using data. As Veber puts it: “In five to 10 years, being a musician and not having a profile on Viberate would be the same as being a guitar player without the guitar.”