Music + data = a brave new world for brands or The untapped potential of music and data

Charlie Toller, Music Lead at Prism Sport + Entertainment

In October of 2022, our very own Charlie Toller, Music Lead, sat down with Joanne Murray of WPP, to explore how data can be used to gain insight into the fan journey, and allow brands to utilise the power of music partnerships in future strategy.

Charlie Toller

Between audio, live and virtual experiences, there lies a world of new opportunities for brands to engage audiences, but accessing it means navigating a complex ecosystem of rights and stakeholders. Charlie Toller, lead of Prism Sport + Entertainment’s music team, explains how using data holds the key to bringing these different strands together to build fan-first strategies that drive synergy and value far beyond traditional partnerships.

The music industry has become a truly diverse ecosystem that is a daunting prospect for any brand looking to get involved. From the traditional rights-holders and song publishers, who own the rights to the music itself, to the music brands, such as festivals and broadcasters, through to the organisations that manage the rights and, finally, the music creators themselves, there is a dizzying array of stakeholders. And that’s without even thinking about digital rights, which are becoming increasingly interesting.

It takes a deep understanding of this universe to really leverage the opportunities on offer. It starts with recognising where your brand fits on the music industry map. Thanks to the new data sets we can now access, we can measure and quantify a brand’s role in the music industry more clearly than ever. As with all brand partnerships, there has always been difficulty in how to measure outcomes. Now, we can not only measure them but also make more informed decisions about the next steps because data brings the opportunities around music to life like never before.

The data opportunities in music culture allow us to work the same way with music rights-holders and, by doing that, can add value to both sides of partnership. As different stakeholders uncover new data sets or better understand how to use the data they have, we are able to understand what each can contribute to our understanding of audiences. Rights-holders, for example, can provide listening figures from streaming platforms, and we can combine them with purchase behaviours to build a picture of audience behaviours.

The possibilities are endless. Consider the fan journey at a music festival. Think of the data generated by tracking a fan’s payment behaviour and all the location data that might become available. These are powerful tools, and some rights-holders understand the power of that data and its potential value to brands. Not only does it offer brands the opportunity to gain a deeper, more coherent understanding of the customer journey, but it means right-holders can work with brands to offer exclusive benefits to the right fans for their artists.

There is plenty we can learn from the gaming and sports about how to seamlessly bring data together to create exciting and innovative opportunities for all. While we are at the beginning of a steep curve when it comes to using tech in music, the gaming and sports industries have long understood the potential and, as a result, are starting to see brand partnerships begin to plateau. Music has been a slower adopter but an integral part of our cultural fabric, the potential for brands to form effective creative relationships is vast.

Brands must be ready and committed to navigating this complex ecosystem of rights and stakeholders and understand that music is different from other passion points, such as gaming and sport. Only then can they take steps to align with music. We have already seen some hugely successful partnerships in music where brands have become synonymous with genres and audiences such as Red Bull in UK underground, which has spawned a number of valuable IPs. Or O2 for providing fans with access to headliner shows. These partnerships have taken commitment, but also understanding fans and the industry stakeholders, and we’re now able to evaluate, measure and drive performance with the data capabilities we now have as an agency.

It is still early days, but the advantages of putting data and insight at the centre of the music industry are clear for all sides – brands, rights-holders, stakeholders – but also for the fans. And that’s music to all our ears.

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