For more than a decade, musicians have battled rampant music piracy that has put labels and record stores out of business at a rapid pace. Unlike the shift to Amazon that did in the book store chains, record stores are suffering from outright theft, and the migration to iTunes or Spotify streaming isn’t making up the difference.
But some bands are dealing with the issue in a unique way. A U.K. company called Growth Intelligence aggregates data on U.K. companies to offer them a real time snapshot of how their company is performing. They capture everything from real-world data, like hiring of employees, to online indicators like email to online discussion.
Its stats were compiled for the London Stock Exchange “1000 Companies That Inspire Britain” list. On that list were six music firms that outperformed the music sector, one of them being Iron Maiden LLP, the holding company for the venerable heavy metal band.
Enter another U.K. company called Musicmetric, which specializes in analytics for the music industry by capturing everything from social media discussion to traffic on the BitTorrent network. It then offers this aggregated information to artists to decide how they want to react. Musicmetric noticed Iron Maiden’s placement and ran its own analytics for the band.
“Having an accurate real time snapshot of key data streams is all about helping inform people’s decision making. If you know what drives engagement you can maximize the value of your fan base. Artists could say ‘we’re getting pirated here, let’s do something about it’, or ‘we’re popular here, let’s play a show’,” said Gregory Mead, CEO and co-founder of the London-based firm.
In the case of Iron Maiden, still a top-drawing band in the U.S. and Europe after thirty years, it noted a surge in traffic in South America. Also, it saw that Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Columbia, and Chile were among the top 10 countries with the most Iron Maiden Twitter followers. There was also a huge amount of BitTorrent traffic in South America, particularly in Brazil.
Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary “Flight 666.” After all, fans can’t download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.
And in a positive cycle, Maiden’s online fanbase grew. According to Musicmetric, in the 12 months ending May 31, 2012, the band attracted more than 3.1 million social media fans. After its Maiden England world tour, which ran from June 2012 to October 2013, Maiden’s fan base grew by five million online fans, with a significant increase in popularity in South America.