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Australian Festival Vets Present The Radar Station, a ‘Screening Tool’ For Talent Bookers

The Radar Station is "a screening tool that identifies those artists that are gaining traction online most quickly out of the thousands that are releasing music every week."

A passion for live music and data is the building block for The Radar Station, an Australia-based music analytics platform which its founders designed to take the guesswork out of talent booking.

The evolving startup is the brainchild of Steve Halpin, director at Cattleyard Promotions, producers of the award-winning Groovin the Moo, and festival programmer Rich Moffat, both veterans of Australia’s live music community which, prior to the pandemic, was a valued in the multiple billions of dollars.

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The startup highlights breaking artists by analyzing real listening data, across genres and around the globe, explains Halpin, who understands the numbers game better than most — he’s also a statistician.

The project began life as a way to determine which of the “countless number of new bands to book for our festival,” he tells Billboard. Using cold, hard data to assist in programming a festival lineup removes personal biases and, if all goes to plan, delivers a line-up and a show that people will part with their money for.

In a nutshell, the service collects data from a number of online platforms to determine those artists that are growing the fastest, against all other artists in the database.

Consider it as “a screening tool that identifies those artists that are gaining traction online most quickly out of the thousands that are releasing music every week,” says Halpin.

“We are not so interested on just the ‘biggest’ artist as everyone already knows who these are,” he explains. “The focus is on followers rather than monthly listeners, which is often inflated by cameos, guest appearances and famous-by-association.”

The Radar Station also actively tracks live gig data via Songkick, “which helps keep the focus on those acts likely to have a longer career as opposed to just the artists with a viral smash that don’t really exist as a performance entity,” he continues.

Radar was admittedly a “dry” monthly report at its inception, with pages of tables and summary statistics. It evolved to a weekly report with a focus on those artists that were growing the fastest. By publishing each week, the Radar Station has become much more dynamic and able to “identify fast growing artists more quickly,” notes Halpin.

Successes so far have included early predictions of breakout success for Amy Shark and Khalid.

“While their following was relatively small when we first started tracking them, they were increasing very rapidly week to week compared to all the other artists we were following,” notes Halpin, “so it is no surprise that they have become such popular artists years later.”

In 2019, The Kid Laroi was identified as a breakout artist in early 2019 with fewer than 3,000 Spotify followers. The Kid now has millions waiting for his next drop. More recent Radar Station breakout artists include Eem Triplin, LF System, Skin on Skin and Domi & JD Bec.

Artists are tracked globally, and, on request, can be divide on a territory-by-territory basis.

After crunching the numbers, Halpin and Moffat recently identified Australian electronic artist Skin on Skin as the fastest-growing artist in Australia, and one of the 10 fastest-growing acts in the world.

“Great art now can quickly find an audience, and once that army is following the artist anything is possible,” Halpin reckons. “You will see Skin on Skin headlining shows all around the world very soon I’m sure.”

The upgraded service includes a free weekly email and enhanced members-only version, and, of course, several charts listing the top 100 artists in “breaking,” “building” and “established” categories.

Subscribers include festival programmers, venue bookers, record labels, publishing companies and sync supervisors.

Visit theradarstation.com.au for more.