For the longest time, music research has only been useful for record labels and industry leaders. It’s been used to predict listening trends, target demographics, and even formulate specific beats, sounds, and styles that sell best. But if the music industry can use statistics to benefit themselves, what’s stopping independent and amateur musicians from doing the same?
The biggest impediment to musicians using music research for their own gain is simply that it is not focused on their particular perspective. While a record label definitely has a vested interest in finding out the formula to the next great pop artist, an indie band from South Carolina couldn’t care less. Using stats to formulate sound and target markets doesn’t all together help musicians. More often than not, a musician is looking for serious feedback to fine-tune their already existing sound, not create a new one. With music research skewing so heavily in the favor of the music industry, it’s hard for musicians to find real statistics that benefit them.
Music research is also painstaking and expensive. As a musician, doing your own research is nearly impossible. Surveying enough people, getting a varied difference of opinions, keeping out bias, and still getting all the calculations right – it sounds exhausting. Factor in the amount of time it would take to accomplish these goals and you’ll find that, even if you had the ability and knowhow to execute the various other requirements, won’t even have time to be a musician. So then the obvious choice would be to pay someone else to do it. That would be great if there were just statisticians laying around waiting for someone to hand them their next assignment. It costs a fair bit of money (somewhere in the neighborhood of $5,000 a month) to hire a statistics consulting firm For the standard garage bands out there, that might be a bit out of budget. This is why there are no musician friendly stats out there for new artists to work with. There is so few information available for musicians, in fact, that most of them wouldn’t even consider using stats as a tool to better their careers.
It’s easy to get jaded when seemingly the entire industry is against you. Understand that the lack of helpful information is a lack of incentive on the behalf of the industry, not intentional subjugation – they do that in other ways. Basically if you want helpful statistics to give you the information you need to improve your music, you’re going to need to get it yourself. Forget hiring an expensive statistician, though. Instead look for music insight online. You’ll be surprised how many people will soundout their opinion when you post something online.
Getting help from comment sections on music hosting sites or video sites is helpful, but don’t let it get you down. There will always be trolls on the internet. Instead, get back to stats and look up music research tools. There are ways to get metrics for any online content. The best tool will have information for who is listening, their age, sex and location, their general music taste (related artists, etc.) and what they listened to. Get enough of that music research and mix it with online commenters – now you have something to work with.
But aside from improving your sound, how else will music research help you? The great thing about statistics is that they never lie. If you can show someone hard data that you have an immensely popular song, then that person is likely to believe you even if they’ve never heard of your band. Track album and single sales and downloads from your websites and show them to a record label. If your data is compelling enough, it might well get you signed. Hard numbers are always more reassuring than promises, and with music research you could have the numbers you need to make a difference.
Remember what information to look for and you’ll be on your way to becoming a better and more successful musician.