With social media transforming every corner of the music industry, in this Women in Music issue, Billboard chose to salute four executives who are at the forefront of this new era of digital connection.
Head of Music Industry Relations, Twitter
Tatiana Simonian's potent combination of perspectives as a musician (she's part of an indie band called Nightmute) and self-described "nerd" gives her an insider's view into how artists can leverage her company. Her career in digital marketing began in 2006, when she helped promote the Smashing Pumpkins' Zeitgeist album on the Web. Today, she's Twitter's liaison to the music industry, helping artists and music companies find their voice among the platform's 140 million active users. She also runs the @TwitterMusic account, which started in October 2011 and now has close to 1.9 million followers. There's a sizable appetite for music-related content on Twitter, as evidenced by the statistic that half of all its users follow at least one musician or band. What's next for 2013? Simonian believes live events will be a primary driver of social media. "There's so much opportunity for social media in the live music space," she says. "The fans are all there on their phones and many of the artists are documenting their experience live from the stage as well, right on Twitter. When artists share their stories, their tweets become your front-row seat to music's biggest moments."
VP of Social Media, North American Concerts Division, Live Nation Entertainment
Gretchen Fox, VP of social media in the North American concerts division of Live Nation Entertainment, thrives on results. In the past year, the efforts of Fox's social media team have yielded a 363% increase in ticket sales through such social channels as Live Nation's Concert Calendar app on Facebook.
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In addition, they've increased traffic from social platforms to Live Nation's online properties 155% and bumped up engagement, including Facebook comments, likes and shares, by 495%. Fox offers guidance to Live Nation's 16 regional offices with social media expertise, best practices and tools to promote shows happening in more than 55 Live Nation venues throughout North America. Looking back on the year, Fox cites Facebook's rollout of Promoted Posts and Sponsored Stories as one of social media marketing's biggest wins of 2012, because it allowed brands to cross-promote earned and paid media "holistically." For 2013, Fox believes "big data" will take -center stage. "With big companies like Google and Adobe acquiring social software companies, we are closer than ever to merging data from disparate places to better allow predictive analysis and minimize the manual matching of different data sets," she says.
Social Marketing Director, AEG Live
AEG Live social marketing director Rae Cline has had a broad career in music marketing, having clocked nearly two decades in the business working for commercial radio stations and record labels as well as concert promoters. As a result, Cline is inclined to value voice and language over pure analytics. What will win in social media is "simplicity and authenticity," Cline says. "Fans don't want hype. They want information and entertainment, presented cleanly." Case in point: Cline says she and her team have been "nerding out" on Facebook ads to see if they can increase the number of people who click on them. "The onus is really on the creative-coming up with social ads that will garner heavy engagement on mobile and in the newsfeed. We're seeing those numbers skyrocket." How much? AEG's Facebook ads have gone from an average of a 0.8% click-through rate to consistently hitting 3%-5%. Some ads have seen as much as 12% of users clicking through. Cline's formula: "The right image, the right words, short and sweet." As the social media director for the world's second-largest concert and live events promoter, Cline directs more than $1 million in advertising on social media platforms.
Co-Founder/Head of Business Development, MusicMetric
If data is king, then Marie-Alicia Chang is the queen of data when it comes to measuring social media efficacy. As co-founder of London-based Musicmetric, Chang has been at the forefront of social media metrics since 2008 when she co-founded the company with CEO Gregory Mead. Today, more than 600,000 artists use Musicmetric to track their online data in real time-everything from fan demographics and geographic distribution to the "sentiment" of critics' reviews of their music. This year, Chang's company added a novel feature: BitTorrent tracking. What Musicmetric discovered is that not all downloads facilitated by BitTorrent are illegal: In the first half of 2012, close to 100 million files downloaded using the BitTorrent protocol were perfectly -legitimate, the company estimates. Many artists are now tracking, and some are even encouraging, BitTorrent activity around their music as a measure of "hotness." Because Musicmetric can zero in on the geography of file sharing, artists can create "heat maps" that help them see where their fans are located when deciding where to tour. As for 2013, Chang plans to devote more resources to predictive analytics. "In a world where demand must be satiated instantly," she says, "directing the consumer to what they want and where they want it is a vital skill."