Mercury Rev: Grow Your Audience Whenever You Can

Recently, Music Week (MW) published an article bemoaning the short term effect of awards such as the Hyundai Mercury Prize on an artists overall chart position.

Their initial focus was on the spike for Wolf Alice, the surprise winners, and other nominees like Arctic Monkeys and Florence + The Machine, followed by the inevitable plummet back down the charts.

While it is true to say that accolades such as The Mercury, GQ, and The Grammys etc., briefly move the chart-needle, we felt it important to dig into a more significant point mentioned in the MW article: the longer term benefits of audience growth obtained from such exposure.

For this exercise we focused just on Wolf Alice. Obviously, as winners they garnered the most publicity; but also, their album is a year old, so will have completed the usual campaign sales cycle. We took our sample from the Australasian territories, via our relationship with the Mushroom Group, which should help demonstrate the international impact of high-profile recognition too.

Daily streaming activity from the two biggest DSPs

Our numbers confirm the MW quote, that post-announcement, the band had a 20% increase in the number of individuals listening to their music on Spotify, Apple, Deezer and Google, compared to the previous six-months.

But interestingly, 15% of that audience was added from “day of nomination” to “night of the award”, with only a 5% increase post-event. While we must take into account the shorter timeframe from award night until now, it does point to the “spike” being generated by a returning audience. In fact we crunched the numbers and can confirm that 99% of the streams in that week after award night came from previous listeners.

Sticking to our test sample we broke-out the streams to see how the new Wolf Alice audience discovered them after the nominations were announced. There was an even split between Public Playlists (21%) and Algorithmic Recommendations (20%) such as My Favourites Mix, Discover Weekly, Daily Mix, Discovery Mix, etc.

The pleasant surprise was nearly 60% of the listeners sought tracks out via Artist or Album page, DSP Radio and Direct Search. In other words, something prompted them to go looking for Wolf Alice as a band, such as the hype surrounding the Hyundai Mercury Prize.

Much has been made of the long-tail benefit streaming offers the music industry; so how does a larger audience directly and indirectly support this?

Superfans can be classified by many factors, dependant on the type of artist: from lean-forward enthusiastic listening, to multiple live event attendees, high value and rare product buyers, to blogging that borders on stalking.

But it’s not just superfans that generate residual income; lean-back “casual” listeners and happy accidentals all contribute to a healthy fanbase.

When someone saves (28% of our sample cohort), follows or consumes multiple tracks by an artist they increase the chance of DSP algorithms pushing more from that artist, or similar artists, to them. Also, friends and those with matching music tastes will begin to see that band appearing in their recommendation lists and feeds.

Check out the excellent article (…a bit old but still relevant) by Adam Pasick on How Discover Weekly Works to better appreciate the net benefit of growing and nurturing your streaming audience.

So, while we do think charts are an outdated measure of real success, and awards are often marred by controversy and conjecture, they’re still a valuable means of alerting or reminding the public about a certain artist; and in so doing, grow that artists audience.

Further to this, the goal of every campaign should be to increase that audience. Ticket retailers should be encouraged to display artist content in their profiles, including album links in confirmation emails; every blog, news article and opinion piece must point readers to a place where they can experience the artist; festivals can provide links and bios for every artist on the bill, not just the headliner; and social media must be populated with revenue generating content, not dead end links.

Most importantly, DSPs have a responsibility to engage with labels, managers, promoters, agents, & publishers, exploring ways to drive traffic to artists on their platforms, not trying to cut them out of the game.

We’re in this together guys!!!

Take a look at my piece on Playlists for more on the subject and keep following for our next article about the shift in consumption patterns (sources and devices).

Check out Entertainment Intelligence (Ei) if you want to know more, and watch this space for further exploration and insight from the world of digital entertainment data.