Spotify Gives Artists on the Platform Access to the Data They Generate With Fan Insights Dashboard

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Chief Product Officer at Spotify Gustav Soderstrom with Tiesto at a Spotify news conference May 20, 2015 in New York to announce an entry into video and original content, hoping to expand its reach beyond music. 

Today Spotify is giving the truly vast number of artists available on its platform access to data on how they're being listened to. The data can be useful, if understood, interpreted and contextualized properly, to artists trying to identify untapped audiences or optimize their tour routing.

The Fan Insights dashboard joins similar initiatives from Pandora and YouTube and helps creators to segment their audience and the sources of those listeners. The utility helps delineate between fans and casual listeners -- drilling down to fans that have listened to an artist every day for a week, most days of a month, new listeners  -- as well as geographical locations, what percentage of listens are being generated by specific playlists on the service and other metrics like statistics on specific songs and albums, and spikes in popularity by their date and which artists people listened to the most besides themselves (or their client). Spotify tells Billboard it worked with managers and artists to try and identify the data metrics that would be most helpful to the most people -- to provide them "the right data in the right context," as a Spotify representative explained it to Billboard during a preview of the features.

The design of Insights is smooth and slick, more resembling a semi-dynamic piece of online feature journalism than a serious analytics tool, though representatives stressed this is a beta version of the dashboard.

According to Spotify its targeted campaigns -- what the company calls "Fan First Campaigns," which target a particular artist's top fans with "unique rewards" -- perform four to five times better than non-targeted promotions, and achieve a clickthrough rate between 40 and 50 percent. (Normal web advertisements generally it clickthrough rates lower than five percent.) It's important to note that in its preview materials the company cites those figures for better-known acts like Chvrches, Ed Sheeran and Father John Misty. Truly independent artists' mileage may, of course, vary.

The company says it will offer more robust analytics in the future, allowing users to better segment their audiences and to better identify sources of discovery and attention. Spotify says half of artist discovery on its service is generated by playlists and the radio service within it, a figure that is also unsurprising given that a majority of music listeners prefer that listening be as easy and quick as possible. (That said, the "deep-fan minority" can be a powerful force for word-of-mouth discovery.)

Asked about instructing that huge number of music creators on how to best use the information they've generated and now been given access to, Spotify says it is planning a "Basic Training" website and will be "working to get case studies out there." (If you're truly lucky -- or talented, and preferably signed to a major label -- they'll get in touch with you.)

In a day and age when data reigns, any insight provided to artists is helpful -- though size, as always, matters.