Christine is the Director of Data & Insights, Global Marketing at Warner Music, UK.
Christine has an undergrad degree in Music Business, followed by an MBA in Marketing and a Masters in Data Science. She has combined her various passions into roles consulting and working with various music startups, venues, festivals, radio stations and labels bridging the gap between music, data & business. Before joining Warner, she was the Head of Data & Insights for Universal Music Sweden.
Hello Christine, we’re really excited to have you here tonight. How are you doing? How’s London?
We’ll really like to know how you got to combine music and data in your journey. Was that planned or it just happened?
A bit of both. Started off with tech bc I really wanted a cool MySpace page so I learned HTML. Fell in love with local music so I started a magazine & website and learned marketing. Realized there’s so much data in marketing while getting my MBA and wanted to apply to music.
Always said, “Spotify was the best thing that happened to me in 2011 & that’s the same year I graduated from university.” I loved it & realized how much data was associated with streaming. So I combined my undergrad degree in music biz with a Marketing MBA & Data Sci degree.
Super inspiring journey there. What would you say the dominance of Digital/streaming now has changed about how to navigate the industry. First, as an artist and then as a major label A&R/Exec?
It’s both easier & so much harder. You have unlimited access to data bc most of your career as an artist lives online: streaming, ads, social media, YouTube, etc. So you can take an action & track immediate effects.
But that means you have to understand so many moving parts & there’s no playbook. When the whole world is available to you with so many streaming services & social networks, you have to assess which are worth your time & energy. And at labels, we have to do all of that too x1000
So from an artist/creative’s perspective, what metrics/numbers should the most attention be paid to? What would you advice that they focused on, to grow?
In the music industry, Metrics are just a means to quantify the unquantifiable. What you should be focused on are your fans & where you want to be in your career then you think about what metrics match up to that.
If you want to… Reach new markets, look at your listener’s growth in your focus territories. Make sure you’re connecting with fans, track your comments & mentions. Get more die-hard fans, track engagement on your email list or Patreon (if you have one). I could go on…
For both indie artists and record labels, what tools/platforms/software would be helpful in collecting and processing data about music performances/audiences without needing a lot of technical skills?
As an artist or indie label, if you’re building out a team (I know I’m biased) but I recommend getting someone on your team comfortable with data. They don’t need to have a bunch of degrees (or any!) but at least can work their way through an Excel sheet to start off with.
W/o tech skills, check out @chartmetric. They have a great freemium product that aggregates tons of your data for you. Also, make sure you have access to all your artist portals like @spotifyartists. If you want to get fancy you can have fun visualizing data w/Google Data Studio.
Thank you for that. Chartmetric is definitely a tool to look out for. How important should social media data be in understanding your audience/fans as an artist?
Again, metrics/data comes second to what you want to do. I mentioned before about diehard fans, for example. One little trick is to save a Twitter list of your biggest fans, have them on a special email list, etc. Keep track of what brands they like, what shows they watch, etc.
This will help you find brands you might want to partner with, sync deals you might want to strive for, etc. Also it’s a great litmus test to figure of if something is resonating w/your core audience. If those diehards aren’t talking about a new release, then something’s wrong.
From a label’s point of view, what (metrics) do you look out for in artists you’re considering signing?
I’m not too involved in A&R so I can’t speak to that as much but it’s good to have some people that care about your music. It doesn’t have to be A LOT but having people passionate about you is so important. 10K people listening 10x a day is better than 100K listening 1x.
One important question is: how do you find a balance between what the numbers say (data) and your subjective perception of the art? How do you ensure you’re making the right decisions?
Its really important to know the industry & know your audience. Thats part of the art to know what works. That helps inform the subjective part of things. Some things data can’t be quantified and the music industry still relies on their gut, as it should to some extent.
It’s even more curious in emerging markets where streaming is still nascent. How do you measure how well a song is truly doing in a market where consumption is maybe 30% digital and 70% offline?
This is where socials are really important! If you’re getting 1M streams a day and absolutely no social interaction, that’s really suspect. Also check out things like @GoogleTrends to measure is people are actively searching for an artist or track.
Thank you very much. Please leave some last words for people who want to pursue a career in data in the music industry.
Thank you so much for having me and thanks to everyone else for all the support & love especially my Naija people.
I wrote a post called “So, You Want to Work in Data in the Music Industry…” Check it out here.
Feel free to reach out to me also!
Thank you so much, Christine. We appreciate your time and knowledge shared. We’re really honoured.