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Big Data and Your Band

So, the data thing. I know we’re all up in arms about it but I’m not entirely sure why. I thought we all knew that this was happening? I thought we all knew that this world was impossibly fucked once we started leaking all of our data to other people? And like – the thing is Facebook didn’t even need to leak the data to folks for it to be out there. Anyone willing to do enough research could have figured out a lot about you just by piecing together various aspects of your digital life. When we were kids our parents waned us about this, now we all have fallen victim to it. I remember being in 10th grade and we had some old dude come in and tell us about how we needed to be careful protecting our data. I was the only kid in the class who had met someone from the internet. This is common practice now. So what does big data mean for your band?

Well first of all – odds are it means jack shit. If your not high on social media interaction then you aren’t getting enough data to really get a portrait of your average consumer. If most of the people commenting on your posts and what not are people you know personally then there isn’t enough information there for you to start pulling together relevant information. You need to appreciate that big data isn’t going to help you with that. that’s just the way things are. HOWEVER, there are a lot of ways around this, and I wanted to spend some time talking about the optimal ways to take advantage of the fact that corporations have all our information. When it comes down to it there is nothing that we can do about it anyway, so we might as well sit back and do what we can to try and grow our weird and transgressive art using it.

The first thing to be aware of is that you are going to need to pick apart other bands profiles a little bit. This can be done a lot more easily than you’d expect. If you’re even remotely plugged into the scene and are starting to see bands that all your friends like when they don’t like your band take a minute to analyze that data. Think about who they are and what they represent. Simultaneously, look at the bands you want to be like and figure out who their main fanbases look like. This is a lot easier than you might think by the way. All you need to do is look at the profile pictures and public info of people commenting on relevant pages. If you want to be like, Baroness for example go to their latest status and look at who interacted and realize that they are relevant to you. Don’t message these people directly, because that’s weird and creepy, but rather analyze what they look like and what they seem to be into and go from there.

In the case of a band like Baroness with worldwide appeal you are going to see some fairly broad stuff, that is to say you’ll see most of their fans are in their late 20s and early 30s. The die hards seem to have a connection with sludge metal and other underground music .The more conventional fans probably like Metallica and saw them on that tour. This is admittedly useful information. However I’d also encourage you to look at bands in your scene who you want to be like. They are probably going to have some more regional data you can start to sift through, manually of course. That being said – if you are friends with whoever the local heroes in your genre are, then the odds are you will be able to convince them to let you at least peek at their demographic information and try and use that as a way to grow your brand. It’s simply another piece of the puzzle that you have to put together when determining how you want to sell yourself.

One of the wisest pieces of advertising advice I’ve ever received came from a dear friend who is a promoter down in North Carolina. This is an easy one too. Look at the people who purchase the cool magazines and read the cool tastemaker blogs in your genre. When you set up your ads on Facebook, just target the people who like those publications. Hell – it gets even easier. Most of those sites will give you their demographic information for free, sometimes even on the site, because they are constantly trying to attract new advertisers! Guess what! Those are the people you want to be hitting. Then look at a few other places around the internet, figure out what those types of people are into and start hitting them with that type of content. Once you start to shape your product around your demographic then Big Data is starting to really come to your aid and give you the sort of push you needed in the first place.

So is Big Data a scary thing? Indubitably. Is it going to ruin the world? Most likely. Will our corporate overlords use it to predict our every move and get increasingly creepy kind of like in season 7 of Parks & Recreation? Most certainly. But guess what, we need to adapt. That’s the human condition. Realizing that shit is fucked and it’s up to us to find a solution that makes sense through all of this madness. We need to try and sift through to grow. It’s not going to be easy or fun by any stretch of the imagination but it has to be done. What more can be said other than that such is our lot in this shitty and semicharmed life.

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