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Music’s ‘Moneyball’ moment: why data is the new talent scout | Financial Times
JULY 5, 2018 | FT | Michael Hann.

The music industry loves to self-mythologise. It especially loves to mythologise about taking young scrappers from the streets and turning them into stars. It celebrates the men and women — but usually the men — with “golden ears” almost as much as the people making the music....A&R, or “artists and repertoire”, are the people who look for new talent, convince that talent to sign to the record label and then nurture it: advising on songs, on producers, on how to go about the job of being a pop star. It’s the R&D arm of the music industry......What the music business doesn’t like to shout about is how inefficient its R&D process is. The annual global spend on A&R is $2.8bn....and all that buys is the probability of failure: “Some labels estimate the ratio of commercial success to failure as 1 in 4; others consider the chances to be much lower — less than 1 in 10,” observes its 2017 report. Or as Mixmag magazine’s columnist The Secret DJ put it: “Major labels call themselves a business but are insanely unprofitable, utterly uncertain, totally rudderless and completely ignorant.”......The rise of digital music brought with it a huge amount of data which, industry executives realized, could be turned to their advantage. ....“All our business units must now leverage data and analytics in innovative ways to dig deeper than ever for new talent. The modern day talent-spotter must have both an artistic ear and analytical eyes.”

Earlier this year, in the same week as Warner announced its acquisition of Sodatone, a company that has developed a tool for talent-spotting via data, another data company, Instrumental, secured $4.2m of funding. The industry appeared to have reached a tipping point — what the website Music Ally called “A&R’s data moment”. Which is why, wherever the music industry’s great and good gather, the word “moneyball” has become increasingly prevalent.
........YouTube, Spotify, Instagram were born and changed the way talent begins its journey. All the barriers came down. Suddenly you’ve got tens of thousands of pieces of music content being uploaded.......Home computing’s democratization of recording removed the barriers to making high-quality music. No longer did you need access to a studio and an experienced producer, plus the money to pay for them. But the music industry had no way to keep abreast of these new creators. “....The way A&R people have discovered talent has barely changed since the music industry began, and it’s fundamentally the same for indie labels, who put artistry above sales, as it is for major labels who have to answer to shareholders. It’s always been about information.....“We find them by listening to new music constantly, by people giving us tips, by going out and seeing things that sound interesting,”.....“The most useful people to talk to are concert promoters and booking agents. They are least inclined to bullshit; they’ll tell you how many people an act is drawing,”...like labels, publishers also have an A&R function, signing up songwriters, many of whom will also be in bands)....“Journalists and radio producers are [also] very useful people to give you information. If you know you’ve got particular DJs or particular writers who are going to pick up something, that’s really good.”
.......Instrumental’s selling point is a dashboard called Talent AI, which scrapes data from Spotify playlists with more than 10,000 followers.....“We took a view that to build momentum on Spotify, you need to be on playlists,”....“If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to suddenly start streaming a track you’ve just put up. It happens when you start getting included on playlists.”......To make it workable, the Talent AI dashboard enables users to apply a series of filters to either tracks or artists: to sort by nationality, by genre, by number of playlists they appear on, by the number of playlist subscribers, by their industry standing — are they signed to a major? To an independent label? Are they unsigned?
.......What A&R people are looking for, though, is not totals, it’s evidence of momentum. No one wants to sign the artist who has reached maximum popularity. They want the artist on the way up....“It’s the direction. Is it going in the right direction?”....when it comes to assessing what an artist can offer, the data isn’t even always about the numbers. “The one I look at the most is Instagram, because that’s the easiest way for an artist to express themselves in a way other than the music — how they look, what they’re into,” she says. “That gives a real snapshot into [them] and whether they really have formulated a world for themselves or not.”......not everyone is delighted with the drive to data. “[the advent of] Spotify...became the driving force for signings...“A&Rs were using their eyes rather than their ears — watching numbers change rather than listening to music, and then jumping on acts....they saw something happening and got it out quickly without having to invest in the traditional A&R process.”... online heat tends to be generated by transient teenage audiences who are likely to move on rather than stick around for a decade: online presence is a big thing in electronic dance music, or some branches of urban music, in which an artist might only be good for a single song. In short, data does not measure quality; it does not tell you whether an artist has 20 good songs that can be turned into their first two albums; it does not tell you whether they can command a crowd in live performance..........The music industry, of course, has always had an issue with short-termism/short-sightedness: [tension] between the people who sign the cheques and those who go to bat for the artists is built into the way it works..........The problem is that without career artists, the music industry just becomes even more of a lottery. It is being made harder, not just by short-termism, but by the fact that music has become less culturally central. “It’s so much harder to connect with an audience or grow an audience, because there’s so much noise,”
.......Today the A&R...agree that the new data has its uses, but insist it still takes second place to the evidence of their own eyes and ears.......As for Withey, he is not about to tell the old-school scouts their days are done....Instrumental can tell A&R people which artists are hot, but not which are good. Also, there will be amazing acts who simply don’t get the traction on the internet to register on the Talent AI dashboard.....All of which will come as a relief to the people running those A&R departments. .....when asked if data will become the single most important factor in scouting talent: “I hope not. Otherwise we may as well have robots.” For now, at least, the golden ears are safe.
A&R  algorithms  analytics  data  dashboards  tips  discoveries  filters  hits  Instagram  inefficiencies  momentum  music  music_industry  music_labels  music_publishing  Moneyball  myths  playlists  self-mythologize  songwriters  Spotify  SXSW  success_rates  talent  talent_spotting  tipping_points  tracking  YouTube  talent_scouting  high-quality  the_single_most_important 
july 2018 by jerryking
LeBron James’s Media Empire Is Doing Way Better Than His Team - WSJ
By Ben Cohen
Updated June 7, 2017

Uninterrupted, is a media startup founded by Cleveland star LeBron James and his business partner Maverick Carter, and backed by more than $15 million from Time Warner Inc.’s Warner Bros. studio and Turner Sports unit......it's a way of connecting professional athletes with professional writers, producers and directors who could help them say what they wanted to say.......It’s the latest evolution of a movement in which athletes, celebrities and other public figures are using social media and other technology to control their images and communicate directly with the public. In the process, they are loosening traditional media’s grip on the way sports is delivered and consumed. James, Carter and their partners are betting some of the most compelling sports content in the shifting entertainment landscape will be created by the athletes themselves.....Uninterrupted’s multimedia offerings include full-length documentaries, web series and a growing podcast network. Some of its shows have been licensed by traditional media outlets such as Fox Sports, which broadcast an Uninterrupted documentary about a mixed martial-arts fighter. Shows also appear on YouTube, Instagram and Uninterrupted’s own website.
athletes_&_athletics  content  digital_media  documentaries  entertainment  entrepreneur  Fox_Sports  gatekeepers  Instagram  LeBron_James  mass_media  multiplatforms  personal_branding  podcasts  sports  user_generated  Warner_Bros.  YouTube 
june 2017 by jerryking
Oxford Diary
4 March / 5 March | Financial Times | Madhumita Murgia.

The goals is to build a conversation around change, to make technological change less scary, to make sure people don't feel left behind because of technology---do this within 26 hrs.....In the Cotswolds, too, senior British media executive tells me his own experience of working with YouTubers "was more like a one-night stand than a marriage". "We use each other for numbers and legitimacy, but the question is will they ever understand the subtler issues of traditional programming? Rules? Political correctness?.....A government adviser tells me that they are afraid that AI will change the relationship between state and citizen....Algorithms helping governments make important social decisions. Algorithms are a kind of black box and that government many not be able to explain its choices when questioned.
Google  future  conferences  change  handpicked  entrepreneur  ISIS  civil_servants  algorithms  YouTube  mass_media  digital_media  artificial_intelligence  biases  value_judgements  large_companies  print_journalism  technological_change  cultural_clash 
march 2017 by jerryking
Anatomy of a Hit: How Success Is Measured in Different Creative Fields - Speakeasy - WSJ
Dec 18, 2015 | WSJ | By JON KEEGAN. How do you define a hit podcast, Broadway show or typeface? Explore the nature of cultural hits.

when it comes to other cultural works, defining a hit is not as easy. We set out to explore how success is measured—what factors matter in assessing a hit in various creative categories ranging from books to tweets:

Audience – How many people viewed the work?
Sales – How much money was made?
Longevity – How long has the work been available?
Critical acclaim – What praise did the work receive?
art  creative_class  hits  measurements  music  paintings  blockbusters  entertainment  entertainment_industry  creative_economy  auctions  YouTube  Twitter 
december 2015 by jerryking
How to ensure police obey the law, rather than become it - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Friday, May. 15 2015

this week in Toronto, when an Ontario Superior Court judge found that, in January, 2011, a policeman had, for no good reason, punched an innocent man in the head twice, and violated his constitutional rights. There was no video, just the contradictory testimonies of the civilian, a Sudanese refugee named Mutaz Elmardy, and of the officers involved in his brutal and illegal detainment....How many times in cases of alleged brutality that take place away from a video camera have we been lied to?

How many times have superior officers, courts and civilian oversight bodies been swayed by the claims of a police officer who insisted he or she was in mortal danger when they fired their weapon, and there was no living witness to contradict them?
policing  YouTube  police_abuse  police_brutality  police_reform  Toronto_Police_Service 
may 2015 by jerryking
The CRTC needs to start thinking outside the idiot box - The Globe and Mail
The Globe and Mail
Published Saturday, Sep. 27 2014,

...Watching CRTC commissioners questioning cable-company executives and other stakeholders about whether Canadians should be able to choose which channels they pay for made it painfully clear that the commission’s usefulness is being outstripped by technology. ..The new scarce resource is not bandwidth, but viewers. Broadcasters and cable carriers that once had captive markets now compete with Netflix, Youtube and other Internet-based services that exist outside CRTC regulations. These newcomers, including millions of people producing and posting their own content, from Vines to videos, are stealing viewers and changing Canadians’ habits.....the reason why the CRTC still talks "television" – is because it remains the only avenue for Canada’s heavily regulated broadcasters and cable companies to hold onto their current revenue streams while they buy time and figure out what their next move should be. The CRTC’s most critical role – ensuring Canada’s stories are told, as required under the Broadcasting Act – has lately transmogrified from obliging broadcasters to produce Canadian content, and making sure the cable companies prioritize it, to something a little less noble: namely, temporarily protecting Canadian companies from the stateless, unregulated, market-driven onslaught of the Internet....There are significant advances coming down the pipe that are going to get here faster than the end of your next two-year cable contract. This is where the CRTC should be focusing its energies. The future is not “pick-and-pay”; the future is fibre-optic Internet in every home that is magnitudes faster than the current co-axial standard, and which will become the backbone of the digital economy.... The future is not limiting access or enforcing nationalistic content rules; the future is more border-ignoring services with more content than ever, some of which will inevitably be Canadian. The future is asking the question, Do we need a national television broadcaster, or would we be better off subsidizing a national content producer that sells its programming to the highest bidder? Or produces it with a taxpayer subsidy – and then instead of broadcasting via a traditional TV channel, simply posts it online for anyone to watch on Youtube and other sites?

Talking about TV – about pick-and-pay and basic packages and Canadian content – is at best a distraction while the future barrels down on us.
Netflix  Canada  CRTC  streaming  data  roaming  CATV  television  scarcity  statelessness  bandwidth  Youtube  future  Vine  content  DIY  bite-sized 
september 2014 by jerryking
GoPro Sees Opportunity in Its Amateur Daredevils - NYTimes.com
By NICK WINGFIELDJAN. 30, 2014

GoPro, the video camera maker, wants to also be known as a media company....GoPro has built a large and passionate following on YouTube and other Internet sites with its adrenaline-soaked and professionally made videos of surfers riding through barrels of waves and skiers parachuting off snow-covered cliffs. Customers have independently uploaded millions of their own videos, too. And many happily label the clips with the term GoPro, which has become a sort of shorthand for action shots.
camera  web_video  YouTube  GoPro  Red_Bull  extreme_sports  stunts  sports  shorthand  digital_media 
january 2014 by jerryking
Using Online Video to Market Your Business - BusinessWeek
February 03, 2012, 10:58 AM EST
Using Online Video to Market Your Business
First determine what kind of material would complement your company’s brand. Then learn the basics: preparation, equipment, and location

By Karen E. Klein
web_video  small_business  branding  marketing  YouTube 
february 2012 by jerryking
YouTube Tees Up Big Talent - WSJ.com
OCTOBER 29, 2011 | WSJ |By AMIR EFRATI And LAUREN A.E. SCHUKER
YouTube  celebrities 
october 2011 by jerryking
YouTube Makes the Case That It Helps Build Brands - NYTimes.com
October 14, 2011 | NYT | By CLAIRE CAIN MILLER.

To earn a larger share of television ad dollars, the biggest prize in advertising, YouTube has to recruit new kinds of advertisers, beyond the music, entertainment and technology companies that have flocked to the site, and convince them that YouTube is a fruitful place for brand building.

And Google, which got its start and still makes the vast majority of its money from search ads — a few lines of text that invite a direct response — has to learn how to work with advertisers who want to sear their brands into the minds of Internet users.

YouTube’s latest step in that direction is the hiring of Mr. Watson, Procter & Gamble’s former head of digital business strategy, who in June became YouTube’s first vice president of online video global sales.

By hiring Mr. Watson from Procter & Gamble, YouTube acquired expertise in consumer-packaged goods, a sector that has been slow to online video advertising. Video ads for one of Procter & Gamble’s brands, Old Spice, were a viral success online last year.

Mr. Watson said that all ads on YouTube would eventually be video ads for brands. Unlike television, YouTube incorporates social elements by inviting viewers to choose whether they watch, share or create their own videos about advertisers’ products. And YouTube, he said, had both global reach and the ability to target an ad to 20-something men who live near a pizza shop.

Still, YouTube has a small window of time to capitalize on that ability, because as Internet-connected televisions, including Google TV, become more popular, television will also be able to show personalized ads.
advertising  YouTube  branding  Claire_Cain_Miller  Google  Wieden_&_Kennedy  brands 
october 2011 by jerryking
Online Video Start-Ups Seek Niche Beside YouTube - NYTimes.com
By BRIAN STELTER
: June 5, 2011

Like YouTube, Blip splits advertising revenues with Web series
producers. But unlike YouTube, which also streams amateur videos, and
Netflix, which streams feature films and television shows, Blip is
solely focused on those producers. Rather than competing directly, it is
trying to carve a niche next to YouTube in the expanding world of Web
video...Shows hosted by Blip’s servers now account for 330 million video
views a month, the company says. Blip is in its third round of
financing by venture capital firms that have invested $18 million. But
what the system has been lacking, Blip executives and other industry
specialists say, are ways to find made-for-the-Web series that are worth
watching. The problem, in industry parlance, is discovery, and it is a
huge hurdle for Web video makers and sponsors to clear.
web_video  differentiation  YouTube  Blip  ecosystems 
june 2011 by jerryking
Document Page: The Evolving Mission Of Google
Carr, David
The New York Times
03-21-2011
"There is no doubt in my mind they are becoming a media company," said
Mike Vorhaus, the president of the media consulting firm Magid Advisors.
"They are providing content to consumers and selling ads against it --
sounds like a media company to me."

So what, you might ask. What difference does it make what occupation
Google writes down on its driver's license?

For starters, being in the media business means looking at media a
little differently. Google has been spending a lot of time and some
significant money trying to help traditional media businesses stay in
business, in part because Google does not want its search engines to
crawl across a wasteland of machine-generated info-spam and amateur
content with limited allure.
Google  Hal_Varian  Netflix  competitive_landscape  mass_media  media  YouTube  strategy  sports  content  David_Carr  digital_media  layer_mastery 
march 2011 by jerryking
Why do Bill Gates and Google love Salman Khan? - The Globe and Mail
Tim Kiladze
From Friday's Globe and Mail
Published Wednesday, Nov. 24, 2010 7:29PM EST
Last updated Friday, Nov. 26, 2010
billgates  Google  YouTube  web_video  education  mathematics  Salman_Khan  Khan_Academy 
december 2010 by jerryking
Chance Favors the Connected Mind
September 27, 2010 | Jam Side Down | by Marty Manley. This
weekend, the Wall Street Journal published a very insightful article by
Steve Johnson, author of Everything Bad Is Good for You, which argues
that video games and TV shows are actually making us smarter and The
Ghost Map, which chronicles the heroic efforts of John Snow to prove
that London's terrifying 19th century cholera epidemics were water
borne, not airborne as widely believed.

The article is condensed from Johnson's forthcoming Where Good Ideas
Come From: The Natural History of Innovation, which describes the
conditions under which "ideas have sex" and multiply. He has also
released a YouTube video that is both a captivating summary and a
brilliant piece of media.
book_reviews  books  cholera  innovation  YouTube  Steven_Johnson  interconnections  ideas  idea_generation  luck  chance  information_spillover  ideaviruses  connected_learning  collective_intelligence  contingency  19th_century  virality 
october 2010 by jerryking
Netflix Faces New Competition in Streaming - NYTimes.com
Sept. 26, 2010 | NYT | VERNE G. KOPYTOFF. Netflix faces a no.
of well-financed & innovative companies e.g. Apple, Amazon, Google
as well as the CATV providers. This war will not be won by perfecting
the logistics of moving DVDs, but by whoever can best negotiate with
Hollywood studios..The weakness of the streaming service is movie
selection. Netflix’s catalog of 20K streaming movies does not include
many recent Hollywood hits because Netflix has been unable to negotiate
rights from all the studios....The industry is still very young &
many companies are experimenting with business models & expanding
their video libraries. Streaming requires less infrastructure &
therefore has lower barriers to entry than a system built on sorting
machines & distn. or even brick- &-mortar stores. Netflix earns
less $rev./cust. as streaming catches on because customers are
subscribing to less expensive plans, with fewer discs and unlimited
streaming. But the company is gaining subs. @ nearly 50 %/yr.
Netflix  Reed_Hastings  Hollywood  studios  competitive_landscape  streaming  licensing  business_models  YouTube  licensing_rights 
september 2010 by jerryking
A tangled Web
Oct. 16, 2009 | The Globe & Mail | by Omar El Akkad
Google  Web_advertising  YouTube  Google_Voice 
october 2009 by jerryking
Portals: YouTube is now a verb and an adjective
October 18, 2006 | The Wall Street Journal | by Lee Gomes
branding  video  YouTube  streaming  web_video 
february 2009 by jerryking

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