Key Launches Data Tool to Help Artists Understand — And Monetize — Their Fans

Lady Gaga
Christopher Polk/Getty Images for Coachella

Lady Gaga fans watch her perform at the Coachella Stage during day 2 of the 2017 Coachella Valley Music & Arts Festival (Weekend 2) at the Empire Polo Club on April 22, 2017 in Indio, Calif.

Chicago-based livestreaming startup Key is getting into the music data business with the launch of its new Fan Relationship Manager (FRM), a data management platform that lets artists and other celebrities capture, own and monetize first-party data about their fans.

The platform launched Friday (May 21) following a testing phase with partners like Randy Travis, Quincy Jones, Pentatonix, Creative Artists Agency, Red Light Management, Elite World Group and MLB Players, Inc. Key is also announcing $3 million in funding, with a list of investors and advisors including Amazon global head of media and marketer strategy Matt Corbin and PMG Digital Agency founder/CEO George Popstefanov.

"Key set out to democratize data collection and activation after finding few in the space have the same resources or access to data as brands," Key co-founder/CEO Evan Wayne said in a statement. "With Key’s Fan Relationship Manager, talent has more data-rich ownership and tools to better understand and connect with their fans. It’s time for talent to own their audience that is currently being hoarded by the social media behemoths."

The FRM aims to solve a common data dilemma for today's artists (and other celebrities), who typically must go through platforms like Instagram and Spotify to retrieve data about their fans. Those platforms get to decide what and how much data to provide, as well as what the artist is allowed to do with it, often charging the artist to advertise against their own audiences. Complicating things further, data is only accessible within each individual source, making it difficult for artists to get a unified understanding of their fanbases.

By contrast, using the FRM, artists can independently pull and monetize anonymized data about their fans. First, artists upload any first-party data they currently have, or use Key's new tool Keychain to capture it. Similar to Linktree, Keychain allows artists to set up link-hosting websites for their social media bios, where they can add links to exclusive content, sweepstakes and more. Fans who click those links will be prompted to register -- sharing names, email addresses, phone numbers and other data in the process.

Courtesy of Key

Importantly, all fan data is anonymized. Once it is pulled into the FRM, the artist can segment fans into different categories and generate insights about those fans, from demographics and location to brand preferences and lifestyles. They can then use that data to better understand fans, activate email and text message campaigns, secure brand partnerships and more.

For example, "Grillz" rapper Paul Wall collected more than 5,000 registered fan emails within the first 24 hours of creating a custom grillz giveaway on Keychain. Over five days, he ended up collecting more than 7,600 total unique emails -- a conversion rate of 69% -- and 5,500 phone numbers, prompting him to launch a "Paul Wall Wednesdays" campaign of weekly giveaways. So far, the data has helped him discover that his fans are likely to drink Fuji water and watch the television show Shark Tank, among other insights.

Courtesy of Key

At launch, FRM will cost $250 per month to use the tool for a single artist account, according to a spokesperson. The company may introduce deals for bulk company accounts in the future, as well as a potential revenue share setup for the brand deals Key helps artists secure.

Wayne and co-founder Stephanie Biegel first launched Key at the end of 2019 as a pay-per-view livestreaming company, working with artists like Calboy and Tyla Yaweh. Key will still power livestreams going forward, but with the FRM, the company is rebranding as a "fan relationship platform."

Key launches its FRM as user data is becoming harder for marketers to reach. Google announced in March that it will no longer allow the "cookies" relied upon by advertisers, which collect data on individual users' browsing habits. And Apple's iOS 14 privacy update last month requires that apps ask users for permission to track their habits.

The FRM isn't alone in the music data management space. It is joined by companies like Audigent, the data management platform for entertainment, sports and lifestyle brands backed by music-tech investment firm Raised in Space, and Unitea, an app that lets artists monetize the data generated by their superfans’ listening habits.