The music industry has become a blur of Spotify streams, iTunes sales, SoundCloud plays, Facebook likes, Wikipedia page views, YouTube hits, and Twitter mentions—but what does it all mean? “We watched artists go from playing in their garage to headlining nationwide tours, and it always felt like a complete black box for how that trajectory actually happened,” says Alex White, Next Big Sound’s CEO. His company has figured out how to interpret the data in a way that every artist and label can use, and that’s enabled Next Big Sound to sign deals with the biggest players in music, and triple its annual revenue.
Next Big Sound’s analytics explain which bands are about to break, which late-night shows really impact an artist’s trajectory, and many, many other quandaries that for decades had been the exclusive domain of mercurial executives and their so-called “golden ears.” It saw years into the future and predicted that acts like Iggy Azalea, A$AP Rocky, and Macklemore & Ryan Lewis would blow up. NBS has partnered with Spotify to allow its 500,000+ artists to see the data being collected on them, so that they can employ it for their own purposes. In May 2014, NBS launched Next Big Book to unleash their analytics on the book publishing industry, and this summer, the company won patent approval for their “likelihood of success” algorithm. They’ve also recently begun working with companies like Pepsi and American Express to help steer the $1 billion plus that is being spent each year by brands on music-related marketing and sponsorships.
Now Billboard now publishes two charts based exclusively on the company’s data, and some insiders even wonder if the predictions are taken so seriously that they may be creating hits as much as predicting them. Next Big Sound doesn’t agree, though: “Each number we collect represents real fans listening to music,” says White, “playing their favorite songs on repeat, following and interacting with the artists they love.”
[Iggy Azalea: Kobby Dagan via Shutterstock]