As the music industry has shifted to digital means, the accessibility of fan data is at every artist’s fingertips and harnessing the analytics is key to understanding your audience and connecting with your fans. The increase in other digital technologies such as email marketing, social media, online advertising and other direct-to-fan channels also allow artists to gather more information than ever before to enhance their fan relationships. An artist's relationship with their fanbase is an incredible bond that contributes to their music careers, and without them, where would you be? Whether you are an established artist or an emerging artist, fan data is the holy grail.

Fan data tells artists, managers and labels who their fans are, where they live, what age and gender they are, what specific tracks they listen to when, how they discover and access that music, what shows they attend, what merchandise they buy, how they interact with the artist, how they respond to different messages, and what other interests those fans have, both within music and beyond. All fan data is extremely valuable information for artists that they can use to connect with fans, create effective marketing campaigns, plan tours, and sell products directly to fans. Dissecting The Digital Dollar is an excellent resource for artists and managers as they create reports to help artists and managers navigate the streaming business. We have summarised their guide on Fan Data to help artists understand its importance and gain insight into the subject. 

The ownership of fan data is important to note. As data protection laws have been updated in Europe as of 2018 with the introduction of GDPR, artists must understand the regulations when collecting personal data. You must provide clear details on how that data will be used and by whom, and how any one individual may request to see, amend or delete any data that is about them. This information should be given in a clearly sign-posted data and privacy policy on the site where data collection occurs. If an artist begins working with a business partner such as a manager or label for example, they must ensure that their contract states that this third party will have direct access to fan data so that they are covered under the data protection regulations. 

There are 10 data categories to be aware of when collecting fan data. We have listed them below:

  1. Email Data

Email data is the list of subscribers who have opted in to receive emails from an artist. Email data is considered to be the most valuable data for reaching fans. Using a third party platform such as Mailchimp allows artists to create email campaigns but also, it shows the key insights such as whether the fan interacted with the email and opened it. This information can tell artists whether their email messages are engaging or not. Mailchimp also includes an unsubscribe link which abides by GDPR regulations. 

  1. Website Data

There is a variety of data you can collect from your website, however, it depends on what content management system your site is built on. For example, if you use WordPress as your CMS, you can add Google Analytics as a plugin and analyse your website data. You can identify users who visit your website and you can implement an email sign up to acquire more subscribers. A website is a great tool for artists to build their fanbase.

  1. Social Media Data

Social media data includes all of the data collected from the artist's social channels. The data can vary depending on the social platform. It is recommended that artists have full access and control over their own social media profiles to use their fan data. Social media insights can show artists a lot of information about their audience such as age, gender, and geographic location.

  1. Streaming Data

Streaming data is a great resource for artists to learn more about their fans. It is recommended that artists create a Spotify For Artists account in order to access fan data such as what tracks fans have been listening to and how they accessed that music, geographic and demographic information is also available. It is also important to have access to any usage and royalty data portals provided by any labels or distributors you are working with. Check whether these portals provide the usage and royalty data identifying in the MMF Transparency Index and – if not – request that the label or distributor look into adding this information on their platform. The MMF Transparency Index identifies the seven most important kinds of usage data. These are: total number of plays per track; source of play (eg from playlist, from artist page); skip information; playlist adds; library adds; total listener numbers; and total fan numbers. 

  1. Ticketing Data

Ticketing data comes from the ticketing platform an artist used to sell their tickets. The data can include various information about the fan such as who bought a ticket, what and how they paid for it, email address, mailing address and phone number. It is recommended that when you are choosing a ticketing platform to use, you should ask what data the platform shares and whether they offer any tools to help with direct-to-fan marketing. When you are negotiating any deals with promoters or booking agents for shows, make sure that the fan data is part of the conversation. You can use platforms like Eventbrite, Tito or Fatsoma to manage your ticket sales.

  1. Advertising Data

This is the data that is provided by any online advertising platform about the performance of and response to any online ad campaign carried out by an artist or their business partners. Popular online advertising platforms used by artists include Facebook, Twitter, Snapchat, Google/YouTube and Spotify. The data can be accessed from the platform used to create the ads.

  1. Smart-Link Data

Smart-link data is when an artist provides links to things like tracks, playlists, tickets or other content online through their social channels, website or emails.  They can then use special smartlink services to track how many people click on each link and other useful information. Smart Link service providers include Linkfire, Smart URL and bit.ly.

  1. Affiliate-Link Data

Some e-commerce companies partner with influencers and musicians to link their products on their socials or websites with an affiliate-link scheme. Under these schemes, whoever is doing the linking includes a bit of bespoke code each time they include a link in their posts. This means the e-commerce site knows who initiated the link. If the person who links through then spends any money, the e-commerce site pays a small fee to the affiliate. Artists can partner with companies like Apple iTunes, Affiliate Window, Ticketmaster’s Impact Radius, Amazon and Skimlinks to avail of these link schemes and access fan data.

  1. Re-Marketing Data

Remarketing data allows you to reconnect with users that previously engaged with an online ad campaign or visited your website. There are a variety of tools you can use to retarget fans such as Google, Facebook, Twitter and Amazon. 

  1. Direct-To-Fan Store Data

This is simply any data that is collected by the artist’s own direct-to-fan (D2F) shop. How much data the artist sees depends on what direct-to-fan platforms they use. The usual data that is collected includes an email address and mailing address, so that the artist can send out the order. Some popular platforms used to sell products include Music Glue, Bandcamp, and Shopify. It is recommended that you investigate what data each platform gathers in order to use the fan data to its full potential. 

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