An Interview with Taylor Hanson of HANSON / 3CG Records followed by Alex White, Faithe Parker, Rob Buell, Taylor Hanson, and William Gruger Discuss Social Data Use Cases in the Music Industry
During an intimate discussion with Taylor Hanson (3CG Records), we learned about some of the bigger challenges that the music industry has faced over the years with staying relevant and understanding consumer insights on a deeper level. Taylor Hanson, one of the first artists to really embrace social media in a big way shared his thoughts on why the music industry has been slow to change. In fact, before the days of websites for branding and social platforms existed, the Hanson brothers were already leveraging public forums and their fan clubs to find out what makes their fan’s really tick. To this point, in the early days on online marketing in the music industry Hanson’s website became the third largest trafficked music site next to MTV and AOL.
Being Part of a Bigger Ecosystem
By embracing fans on a deeper level and finding out what makes them excited, Hanson was able to discover how to build long lasting communities that existed beyond just a new record label and how to activate fans for real social change and activism. He retells an example of how a music single he released to promote medical supplies in Africa became a real movement where fans could participate in his music while donating to a good cause. These types of actionable results was something revolutionary at the time.
Looking Ahead in The Social Landscape
Hanson attributed the music industry’s slow response to adopting cutting edge ideas and strategies to asking the right questions and finding out what consumers were really thinking about besides just the life of a song or CD. His suggestion for stakeholders in the music industry is asking the right questions in order to get to the right discussions taking place. For example by discovering artists inside and out – how their music is shared, who it’s shared with – translates into understanding how an artist fits into the larger space.
He also recommended big brands and artists alike need to collaborate more openly, do things with a purpose, and not be afraid to have authentic relationships and discussions with fans to keep them entertained and passionate about a topic. It’s this type of community building that keeps fans coming back and sticking around long term.
It’s All About Trust
Trust was one of the big theme in Hanson’s mind. In his final remarks he discussed how being able to connect fans, develop real community, and turning local outreach into real activism for change was the obligation for artists and music moguls to make change happen faster. When you have passion and quality that leads to trust which can enable you to build something special.
Pernille Bruun-Jensen led a lively panel discussion with music mavens Alex White (Next Big Social), Faithe Parker (Marbaloo), Taylor Hanson (3CG Records), and William Gruger (Billboard) discussing some of the biggest challenges and take aways that social media has brought to the music industry.
For starters, Bruun-Jensen began with the question “what was your moment when you started to take social data seriously?” One of the ways that the music industry has evolved in the past decade is how artists are becoming found. Before artists were focused on pitching their music and who they were. Now it’s about being able to share your brand, who you are as a person and being able to engage fans on multiple channels and platforms (Vine, YouTube, Facebook, etc.). It ultimately means, how “well rounded” and marketable are you today so you can stay relevant.
Another example that was brought up was how recent mega hits like Gangnam Style or Harlem Shake became huge movements in music simply because of the user participation that was involved to drive engagement.
For Parker, her big takeaway was when award shows became fan voted – by Tweets, shares and mentions rather than just phone voted. It was no longer up to a board to decide but an audience – power was really given to the people. For Hanson turning fan love into activism was powerful.
What’s Working & What’s Next?
The future of social data was one of the most compelling discussions of the entire talk as brands and artists look for new ways to stay relevant and connected to fans in a big way. For example, Parker shared how positive sentiment and volume of conversations became a powerful data point in determining placement of artists in existing or upcoming tours was worthwhile. The crux of the conversation was about looking at the incredible range of social data available today and being able to translate that into actionable insights for future initiatives.
Predicting The Future
One of the biggest challenges that the music industry faces is being able to predict top talent and the growth of future artists. Many times, record labels only look to record sales without looking at the bigger picture and what the data is telling. For a long time, proving what your audiences wants to hear wasn’t the end goal , it was being able to control the space and dictating to fans what should be popular and relevant. Now artist and brand success, thanks to social media insights, is dictated entirely on the fan experience and being able to stay relevant long enough to make a memorable impact in their eyes.
How Millennials Are Shaping the Future
Millennials – another industry buzz word brought to life from brands has been a term often used to describe the largest segment of the workforce. Millennials today are the driving force behind the success of new and existing artists. Many are often times attached to one or two mediums like Instagram or Twitter and the way in how a brand actively engages with them can shape the success of how they are perceived in the marketplace. For example, Billboard today utilizes the army of fans for Arianna Grande and many other artists to complete surveys and contests to find out which musician reigns supreme in the eyes of millennials. By engaging fans through contests, Billboard is able to drive tons of traffic back to their site to find out who makes up these users.
The summary here is that millennials want to be engaged in deep and meaningful ways and not always when you are ready to engage with them.
Retention and Growth
Important to the future of the music industry and social data is analyzing the ways in which music is shared and explored internationally. For example, Rdio has seen a tremendous spike in the way citizens from Singapore, Brazil and elsewhere have adopted music locally and shared it via mobile phones. The influx of new ways for connecting via the web and mobile device has made it even easier to stay on the latest trends.
Understanding the true long term success of a brand or artist through social data has become even more difficult with the influx of new mediums and platforms for connecting with fans. Artists like Rebecca Black have understood how to move audiences from one social platform to another while being able to keep fans interested and excited. Harnessing these types of trends coupled with being able to analyze the data in realtime to create actionable insights for future campaigns will lead to keeping fans activated for the long term.