clock menu more-arrow no yes mobile

Filed under:

Spotify Opens Up Its Data Firehose

Billions of songs a month means lots of information about who listened, when and where.

Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

The modern-day music industry is missing all sorts of stuff it used to have in the old days. Like sales.

But the 2015 music industry has at least one thing the CD era didn’t: Lots of data. And if you use that data wisely, you can find opportunities you would have never found in the analog business.

That’s the pitch, at least, from digital music optimists. And lots of people are trying to make good on that promise, from startups to music labels that have their own data teams. One very big, obvious place to find music data is from the music services that stream billions of hours of songs a month, like Spotify.

Now Spotify is collecting lots of its listening data and assembling it for musicians, managers and other music pros at a new “Fan Insights” portal. The site is free, but access is limited to musicians and the people who work with them.

Those who can look inside can find interesting insights about their music, primarily information about the people who listen to it.

For instance, Spotify says it can help artists divvy up their audiences into casual listeners, repeat listeners and superfans, who are most likely to share their music with their friends; Spotify says it can help musicians reach out to those superfans directly and give them rewards like access to live shows.

Some of this data was available in the past, but only for artists and managers with enough clout to get Spotify to build a bespoke research report for them. Building the new site helps artists, but it also helps Spotify make its case that it’s helping the music business.

That argument is still contentious, so Spotify can use all the goodwill it can generate.

That’s one of the reasons why Spotify has bought music data companies The Echo Nest and Seed Scientific; it’s also why Spotify rival Pandora bought Next Big Sound earlier this year. It’s reasonable to assume that Apple will get around to offering its own data service sooner or later.

This article originally appeared on