The Impact of Messing up the Lyrics



Obviously if an artist has a chance to be on Oprah, grace the cover of the NYTimes, or perform at the Superbowl there is very little decision-making that needs to be done. The challenge comes when the opportunities presented have payoffs that are less clear-cut. Does it make sense to fly the whole band to NYC to perform on Jimmy Kimmel? Is it worth it to pay $400 for a promoted spot on PureVolume? Is our publicist generating the lift she promised?

First, an example. After Christina Aguilera flubbed the lyrics to the US national anthem at the Superbowl views to her Wikipedia spiked 10x. While that’s an interesting fact, without context it’s impossible to know what this data really means. I went back to see the Wikipedia data for Carrie Underwood to see what kind of spike she saw on Superbowl Sunday, 2010 when she sang the national anthem. Not surprisingly, since she sang the song correctly, many did not feel the need to investigate her Wikipedia page and she saw a 3.5x spike (a comparable bump to the one she saw when she co-hosted the CMAs later that year).

At Next Big Sound we track hundreds of thousands of artists and for each artist maintain an activity and event stream with the goal being to correlate all the career-building and revenue generating activities done by the artist and team, tying it to results and seeing what actually works.

While we are still at the beginning stages of unlocking all the value the data has to offer the organization of previously unstructured data makes it possible to finally define the average online lift a band sees from playing at the Pitchfork Music Festival, having a song on Hype Machine, or getting the front page promotion on a social music site.

Whether an artist is playing an open mic night at a local cafe or singing the national anthem on the world stage, there are going to be people exposed to the music. Through the use of social media one can now measure feedback faster, and at a more granular level, than was ever possible before. While purchasing a ticket, t-shirt or album is obviously a more meaningful action than following a band on Twitter, viewing their Wikipedia page or streaming their videos on YouTube – in an age where attention is incredibly scarce (as opposed to distribution and shelf-space) all these smaller actions are indicative that people are aware of a band. It is the job of the band and team surrounding them to turn that awareness into engagement and ultimately revenue. You can’t improve what you don’t measure.

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