TrueDIY Biz: Interview with Next Big Sound

Next Big Sound Indie Ambassador Interview

Of all the music industry start-ups to emerge in recent years, Boulder-based Next Big Sound is among the standouts. The reasons for this are many. Never before have artists been able to track their progress across all internet channels under one roof.

A TechStars ’09 company, NBS tracks artist growth trends on the 15 most prominent social media sources using statistics like views on video channels like YouTube, “likes” on Facebook, and followers on Twitter, and compiles it all into a clean graph allowing for side by side data comparison. This data then enables managers, label representatives, and the musicians themselves to spot a trend and act accordingly.

Laura Carroll of NBS was nice enough to answer a few of our questions about how the system works, and how independent artists can use this tool to its fullest potential. You can read the interview in its entirety below. As you’ll see, nothing more than an account on any major social media site (which you should already have if you take your career seriously) is needed to access your own NBS statistics, so chances are you’re already on the site. Check it out and start analyzing today! How would you describe the services NBS provides? Is it more of a tool for industry professionals or artists?

Next Big Sound: Next Big Sound is a tool for everyone from the major labels to small artists and band managers. Our Premier product is also priced so that all of these different groups can use Next Big Sound in a way that fits with their business needs. We urge people to give us a try for free; we offer 14 day trials for all accounts. How big does a band have to be to show up on the site? Is it as simple as having a fan page on Facebook?

NBS: Currently, we have hundreds of thousands of artists in our database and that number is growing daily. Any artist with profiles on one of the 15+ social media sources from which we collect can track their stats on Next Big Sound and learn more about how fans are interacting with them in order to make educated business decisions. How can artists use the statistics provided to their advantage?

NBS: There are many possibilities depending on who the end user is, but here are some common ways in which our customers use Next Big Sound:

  • Compare Facebook fan activity before, during and after a promotion to create benchmarks, measure success and form future strategies.
  • View pageviews, comments and fan numbers across various networks to understand where your fans are interacting the most and focus outreach efforts to where the most eyeballs are landing.
  • Upload iTunes sales data and augment future sales using our geographical data collected across multiple sources for geo-targeted communications, promotions or planning your next tour. Right now you don’t allow tracking of specific songs/albums, only artists and the material on their sites as a whole.  Are there plans for that to change in the future?

NBS: Absolutely. It is imperative to track song-specific statistics, as we have seen a shift from album purchases to individual tracks over the last decade. We are testing some amazing features that will allow our customers to analyze statistics at the song level. If you’d like a demo, contact us at info [at] nextbigsound [dot] com and we’d be happy to show you around! For someone who tracks stats for a living, is there a so-called “tipping point” for fans/listens/comments where the music speaks for itself and attracts attention on its own or do these artists and their camps have to constantly keep pushing the material?

NBS: I wouldn’t say there is a “tipping point” because the nature of social media analytics creates a dynamic moving target. There is no set number of fan interactions that make a band successful; it’s all relative to other artists. I don’t think you need to be constantly pushing new material or pushing it faster than other artists. In a market that is saturated with artists, fans will pay attention to quality over quantity. Quality music speaks for itself and incentivizes fans to interact with an artist online or attend a show. Do you find that dips in stats stem from certain reasons or is it just the fickle nature of the music industry and fans?

NBS: Dips in statistics can be caused by a number of external factors. The sheer number of artists and the short attention span of the average fan can make it difficult for some artists to establish or sustain a social media presence. Every artist at some point in their career will experience dips and spikes in their statistics, making it imperative to consistently track them. Knowing what happened and why gives artists and their camps the knowledge to adjust their strategy for future success. What are the main differences between the free account and your various premier accounts?

NBS: Our free site hosted on displays 90 days of data and does not allow users to upload proprietary data such as iTunes sales, Google Analytics and Facebook Insights data. Our Premier product allows labels, managers and artists to upload proprietary data from these sources in order to get a better picture of what is taking place in social media. Premier also includes anywhere from 180 days of data to nearly three years (June of 2009) and has more sophisticated geographic capabilities. Would it be beneficial to track artist play counts on streaming sites like Grooveshark, Pandora, and Rhapsody?

NBS: There is certainly value in tracking any source where fans heavily interact with artists. The challenge lies in the way that these platforms are created and the availability of engagement data. We’d certainly like to explore integrating these sources in the future. Any plans you can tell us about for the future?

NBS: We mentioned adding song level capabilities previously, but we are also working on a new geographical component to Premier. We urge anyone with interest to contact us for a demo. We’d love your feedback!

  • LSizzle

    Thanks for the interview, Aidan!

  • Indie Ambassador

    Of course! Thanks for all the thoughtful answers, the post was a hit!

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