As big as billion-user YouTube is, its ad revenue sharing is not where musicians make their money. They earn it on the road. But YouTube’s reach can make artists famous all over the world. Now it’s going to show musicians exactly where those fans are so they can route their concert tours there and squeeze $30 out of people who watch their videos for free.
Music Insights is a new tool that’s part of Google’s YouTube For Artists initiative to lend creators a hand. It shows the cities where a musician is most popular and which of their songs are most popular, as well as aggregates the views of all their own videos and those uploaded by fans that feature their songs recognized by Content ID.
YouTube’s group product manager on Music Insights David King tells me “We have a huge audience across the world for music and we want to help artists understand how their music is being consumed across that audience.”
Here’s how each of those data points will help artists:
Top Cities – Shows artists where to plan concerts. They might discover foreign countries where they have a surprisingly large following, or that they have more fans in a smaller city like Oakland than its bigger neighbor San Francisco. It could also help them to convince radio stations in those cities to play them.
Top Songs – Tells artists what songs they should pitch to radio as singles, send to prospective record labels, try to license to TV shows or commercials, re-record for their next album, or otherwise promote.
Aggregated View Counts – Gives artists a number they can cite to show their popularity. YouTube already shows a total view count for an account’s own videos. But this number includes fan-uploaded videos that use the musician’s songs as soundtracks. This way, an artist could tell a record label or radio station that “Not only do we have 10 million views of our videos, we also have 10 million more views of videos posted of our music by fans, showing how much grassroots support we have.”
When asked why YouTube’s data is better, King said “YouTube remains unique in its global audience and the breadth of that audience. While the two services you just mentioned have a good sized audience, neither has the global reach that we have.” Pandora’s 80 million and Spotify’s 60 million listeners don’t stack up anywhere close to YouTube’s billion-plus.
Eventually, King says YouTube wants to provide this data through an API so artists and their teams can access and manipulate the information more nimbly and combine it with other analytics.
“Data now shows us the direct effects of all of our marketing efforts small and large, online and off” says Dan Kruchkow, CMO and Head of Digital Strategy at Crush Music, which manages major musicians like Fall Out Boy and Train.
The launch comes as YouTube is trying to repair its image with artists after a snafu regarding contracts for its upcoming paid subscription version. After confusing terms led to perceived harshness on YouTube’s part, some artists loudly complained in January.
But YouTube’s been actively trying to provide more ways to assist musicians, as views of their videos make up a huge portion of its engagement. Beyond its existing analytics about how long videos were viewed, in March it launched Info Cards that artists can overlay on their video to display tour or merch info. Its Fan Funding feature lets viewers digitally tip cash to their favorite performers.
Each music streaming service isn’t just competing for listeners. They’re fighting to be the first profile artists promote. If YouTube can offer the most actionable analytics, it will incentivize artists to trumpet their YouTube channel over everything else.