Two years ago, Ravi Ramkeesoon was a technology coordinator and researcher at a family foundation in Long Island, hoping to find a niche in the music industry. Born in Trinidad, the larger island of the Republic of Trinidad and Tobago (T&T), Ramkeesoon had an affinity for Caribbean music, especially T&T’s indigenous soca. He wondered why more people didn’t listen to the genre and where there might be soca fans outside of his home country.
Ramkeesoon believed there was an overlooked opportunity within the music industry to use data to identify and increase the value of artists’ fan bases, both in the Caribbean and around the world. By monitoring social media likes and streaming history, Ramkeesoon would determine the places where an artist’s fans were clustered, and could target them for concerts, merchandise sales, radio play, personal appearances and other moneymaking endeavors.
So the Harvard Business School graduate began to develop the technology to extract geographic locales from data collected across the various digital platforms where fans engage with their favorite artists. Following his participation in the March 2016 MIT Global Entrepreneur Bootcamp Startup Pitch Competition, Ramkeesoon concluded that interactive visualization would make the collected geographical data more easily understood and would be critical to the success of his program.
By June 2017, Ramkeesoon had created a business plan for his intended geolocation app, FindMyFans.co, which he presented at the Talent and Innovation Competition of the Americas in Mexico City. As one of 30 finalists selected from 3,500 applicants representing 40 countries (and the only one chosen without a finished product), FindMyFans received the competition’s highest score in the business plan category.
To bring his app to life, Ramkeeson worked with a network of designers and developers to build a FindMyFans prototype, its performance rigorously tested over several months with multiple types of user cases. Pleased with the results, Ramkeesoon is now preparing to officially launch the FindMyFans app in December 2018. Below, he exclusively unveils a video of the app’s design and functionality.
The app’s focal point is a world map allowing artists with accounts to zoom in and see the locations of their followers and where their music is being streamed. Darker colors indicate heavy activity and play for the artist, while lighter colors designate less engagement. The social media networks tracked by FindMyFans are Facebook, Instagram and Twitter; streams are tracked from Last.fm, Shazam (recently acquired by Apple), Spotify and YouTube.
“Retrieving data from Tidal and Pandora would require further technologies, incurring greater costs, so their plays aren’t counted and Soundcloud doesn’t make their data available to us,” Ramkeesoon explained to Billboard. “However, as many social and streaming sites reevaluate what data they do make available, more data sources can be added as relevant updates to the free app. The number of countries whose data activity can be viewed on the map is also subject to change because several nations ban YouTube or streaming services aren’t available there.”
Ramkeesoon clarified that FMF will be collecting streams and likes numbers for artists; they are not collecting data from the individual fans’ social media activity.
“Some data is accessible if you know how to request it in a tech way directly from Facebook, Spotify, YouTube, etc. You have to build the technology to ask and the process is a little different for each one; it’s not a big build, but it’s not just a phone call either and you need to request it every time you want that data,” Ramkeesoon says. “From there we built a database to structure the information sent, which you have to know how to receive; we throw out the data we don’t want and keep what we do want, and that’s location. We treat artists and bands as businesses and our app will empower them to make wiser decisions and increase their productivity.”
At launch, artists can view their data and the likes/streams of their followers, free of cost, in the countries tracked by FindMyFans. They’ll be able to connect their account with pre-existing social media pages, too.
All users will be able to see the artists with the largest social media followings, the top 50 trending songs on social media for the past week, and the top songs in the countries tracked by FMF. By Q4 2019, artists will be able to identify fan bases in specific areas of large cities, as part of the app’s paid Enterprise Features.
“Say you are an artist living in Jamaica, and you find out you have a sizable fan base in Greenwich Village. There are many venues in the Village looking for talent, so the intention is to get Jamaica-based artists in Village clubs, because now, with FindMyFans, they can easily display their existing fan base in the neighborhood,” Ramkeesoon explains. “The hypothesis is that if artists have fans in a location, those fans will come out to see them. The venue is happy because they’ve booked talent that can attract a sizable crowd; the artist is happy because he or she is getting paid; the fans are happy because the artist they want to see is in their area.”
Going forward, Ramkeesoon is planning to bring FindMyFans more into the live music space.
“We intend to build a tool to handle artists’ bookings, too, because live events are their primary revenue earner and I don’t see that changing,” he says. “With the social media and streaming information that FindMyFans will be collecting, data makes artists’ bookings as easy as booking a ride on Uber, which completes the value chain we hoped to create.”
Additional FMF Enterprise Features will include live radio tracking, song submissions to radio stations in areas where artists have followings, and data-driven, genre-specific charts. The latter is especially significant for dancehall, reggae and Ramkeeson’s beloved soca, genres whose streams have been underrepresented or ignored on many standing tallies.
“We have to unfold services over time to show traction with the first product, then plan, build and test the Enterprise Features prior to their introduction,” Ramkeesoon says. “But we will be periodically updating [free] features after the app launches to ensure FindMyFans stays fresh and continues to add value for its users. The real value is that target markets, based on music tastes, are valuable to brands attempting to serve a specific community. We’re inventing a new way to micro-market with music trends at the core.”