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Music Magazine and Artist APP project

Periodic Reporting for period 1 - MMAA (Music Magazine and Artist APP project)

Reporting period: 2016-11-01 to 2018-04-30

The main challenge when facing digital for the cultural industries has been from the start the monetization for content creators and cultural industries’ players. Piracy has been a major setback for music industries. Also digitalization has changed end-user (music fan) relationship with the music and artists. Independent labels have suffered enormously from piracy and new models of free streaming music platform. As a result, there is less and less capability to invest in the development of new artists, that are left to their own means to produce, promote and tour. Even when an artist is signed to a label, the investment of the label is really low, both in terms of production and also promotion and the Artist should be actively promoting itself.
The good news is that there have never been more tools to produce recorded music at an affordable cost and there is currently more recorded music available than ever. The problem that the Artists face nowadays is not anymore associated to the difficulties of recording but of developing audiences and monetizing.
There are two main ways for an artist to develop its audience and acquire music fans. The first one is through the gatekeepers that have a privileged relationship with the music fans: radio DJ, popular playlist creators, music magazines and webzines. Having the regular support of these gatekeepers guarantee the artist a high profile exposure to the audience that will then react to their music. Unfortunately those spaces at radios, magazines, TVs are very scarce and usually hard to reach. The second way is through digital tools available that enable a direct contact of the Artist with its fans. The artists use in a regular way the social networks (facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube) to relate to their fans. There is nonetheless a big void when it comes to develop their current fan base and also being able to reach them in a music environment. Back in its day, myspace achieved the creation of such a music friendly space, a social network truly devoted to the interrelation between music fans and artists. Facebook and twitter are really far away of creating this closeness.
A big challenge that exists is then empowering the Artist (and also independent labels) with user-friendly and easy-to-use ICT tools that help them to develop and monetize audiences, directly or through a smart usage of social media potential, and then to maintain a close relationship based on a music environment of real music fans.
MMAA project will empower music artists, bands, and label records with the most valuable insights on who and where are their fans, by means of big data analysis within and beyond the MMAA ecosystem, making possible to them a clear strategy to expand their audience, with tools to work on maintaining their loyalty and monetize it.
MMAA project has the objective to make it possible for the artists to have an all-in-one, easy to manage solution for recurrent needs where today they need to use different tools, many of them complex:
• Artist profile – official website alternative with custom URL linking
• Artist profile – downloadable press kit and all data from social networks and streaming platforms
• Online sales (music and merchandising)
• Audience expansion & community building
• Targeted communication with their fan base
• Crowdfunding
• Ticket sales
• Analytics: online sales and fans profile activity

Regarding music related editorial content, music magazines have seen a clear and rapid decline in their sales the last ten years. The migration to digital is been performed in a precarious way, through webzines which are difficult to monetize (advertising is not enough) and digital downloads of the magazine through a digital kiosk solution, whose value is perceived as low compared to the paper version and has difficulties getting substitute sales.
The challenge here for the magazine is finding a new solution that will make it possible to attract and build a loyalty relationship with the music fan for a recurrent usage of their magazine in a way it could be monetized. This monetization will come from have a subscription based model besides advertising and with new additional streams of income, developing new business models that currently are not supported by any standardised product in the market (“Kiosk-type” solutions that offer a very basic digitalization of the magazine) and require a high-cost (in terms of financial costs, development time and skills needs to define and maintain the project) for an ad-hoc solution from a developer company.
The project started with the development of a first version of the services for artists, promoters, records labels and magazines. A pilot were conducted, divided in four iterations that focus each in different features. Feedback was received from more than 350 artists, promoters, record labels and more than 1.000 end-user, adaptations and new developments that responded to the comments were developed.
The iteration zero was a focus group organized with artists and end-users, music lovers. The objective with the artists was to have a deep discussion around the services, in order to detect their interest, doubts and perception. Regarding the end-users the focus was centered in the end-user apps to be developed, mostly about the design and services they value. The information received was integrated in the development made for the first iteration which involved artist using in a real environment the services.
In the first iteration the participating artists got familiar with the core functionalities of the services, setting up their artist page, online shop, testing how to configure a crowdfunding campaign and a ticket sale. Also, active users of the RockMAP app magazine provided their feedback.
The second iteration of the pilot was focused in testing the communication features as well as analytics provided to artists. Also end-users were invited to test Beloud app that provided information regarding concert listing, artists and news.
In the final iteration artists were asked to shared their view of the services after their feedback was integrated and they were also asked to test the features that will enable them to expand their audience.
In parallel to this activity, a detailed analysis platform called Discovery has been created. This allows Music Artists and Managers to gain deep insight into latest trends in the music industry but also to analyze big data about themselves or their clients. This includes – among others – the exploration of social media trends.
The project was presented in the main music fairs during 2017 and 2018, among them Reeperbahn, Womex, MaMa, Linecheck, FIMPRO or Ment.
More than 100 comments and suggestions have been received and integrated in the services. The final questionnaires showed a very high appreciation of the services, both in terms of features and design from artists and end-users.
Also, the project showed the need and request from Artists to receive support not only in the management of different technology tools but also in training for their global career development.
The big data analytics platform Discovery has pioneered in a highly flexible and scalable way to aggregate, query and visualize big data sets from multiple data sources within one unified interface for the music industry.