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A Conversation with Music Managers on the Importance of Streaming Data & Insights


Last week the Music Managers Forum kicked off a huge assembly featuring discussions led by some of our own Kobalt family for the purposes of helping music managers demystify streaming data, and better understand success drivers to help creators take action with unique data insights. The conversation showcased real artist’s streaming data, paired with curated insights and trends made discoverable via AWAL’s App, emphasizing that artist ownership and access to data has never been more important than it is now.

During the event, Paul Hitchman (President of AWAL and Kobalt Music Recordings) spoke to Charlie Murdoch (band manager for Jordan Mackampa), and Stephen O’Reilly (head of marketing at ie:music) about the ways they use data to help the artists they work with run their businesses, make financially viable decisions, and plan for their futures. Read on for quotes and valuable insights from the discussion.

A Conversation with Music Managers on the Importance of Streaming Data & Insights

Are the artists interested in the data, and if so, what data do you find that they’re interested in?

“As data has become a bit more easy to interpret, it has to be idiot proof for all of us… I’ve enjoyed actually bringing our artists in, sitting down with the manager, the artist, myself and a colleague and showing them the Spotify Fan insights, lately, the AWAL Insights, and it’s a real eye opener, because they look at it and say, “Who else did they listen to?” And they look at the tracks, and say, “Oh, maybe I should do a collaboration with that guy,” … some of our artists might think they know who their audience is, have a perception one way, but actually it’s completely different.” 

— Stephen O’Reilly, Head of Marketing at IE Music

“For an artist like Jordan who’s been developing for I guess over three years, it’s being able to plot his journey. When you’re working with a young artist, it sometimes feels like you’re banging your head against a glass wall. When you get to that stage, it’s as simple as looking at a graph, and seeing that it’s only been going up. We’re very fortunate where it initially has only gone up in numbers and for him, that’s been a huge confidence boost.”

— Charlie Murdoch, Highfield Music & Freaknsee Music 

Have you or the artists that you work with been surprised about any of the data that you’ve seen? And what’s that been?

“The artists being able to come to you and ask questions like, why am I doing so well here, or why am I not doing so well here, and what can we do? It’s allowed not only transparency between the label and the artist and the manager, but between myself and Jordan. We talk every day, and it’s allowed that transparency. It’s always a surprise and a delight when you hit three million or get added to a playlist…”

— Charlie Murdoch

Is the data useful when you’re talking to promoters, agents, brands, other types of partners in the industry?

“For us now, our tour is financially viable because we know where to go. In the long run for us, if we hit those smaller towns knowing that there’s listeners, when we move to the larger cities and move to larger venues, we know our fans are going to travel for us… Now, myself and two of the young managers with artists who are about the same level, are able to book a European tour together with three acts playing together, and it opens up the world a lot more… we go through all our Facebooks, Twitters, and cross-reference where our fans overlap. We create a tour where over a month, we can put three artists in one van, with one tour manager, one sound guy, and all of a sudden these three artists who wouldn’t have been able to tour for the next two years because it was too expensive, are actually making a profit. You’re not going to lose any money anymore, which for us, is amazing.”

— Charlie Murdoch

What data signals do you look for when you’ve got an artist, whether it’s an established artist or a new artist? What are you looking for when you’re looking at data?

“Everyday, we sit down, myself, Tom, who heads up our digital department, and Ben, who works on all of our artists as well, we sit down every morning and we look at what happened on the previous day, and then at the end of the week, we look at what happened in the week and what are the indicators, what countries or cities or towns are interesting and figuring out why. Obviously the AWAL App has been majorly helpful. Not all of our artists have that kind of ease of access to data, so it’s been a bit of a game changer in many ways. Day to day, week to week, we scrutinize the information on a very simple level. Then we try and dig deeper into the implications, the cause and the effect, what’s next, what can we do?”

— Stephen O’Reilly