The Radio Of Radios

HOW ANALYZING DATA CAN DRIVE MUSIC TRENDS

BACK TO THE FUTURE

Today, we are going through an accelerated process in the diversification of music tastes. Music apps analyze more and more data from people’s likes and groups to times or ways people listen to music, that it seems each person is a walking radio station. But something seems to elude the analysis of music listening patterns in the age of BigData. In the main debate nowadays - the radio versus playlist - the difference has been blurred. The music experience in one’s life is the ‘radio discovery’ experience at home, with friends, in public places, everywhere. Music apps have turned to be just tools to manage one’s own playlists. But how can the experience of music discovery be reinvented exactly in the age of each person being its own station? The answer is pretty simple - by creating a radio of radios. The solution? An ingenious music app - Soundtracker.

Soundtracker is a social music network that offers its users a unique geo-localized music discovery and enjoyment experience. The system streams its 32 million tracks to millions of active users around the world on a daily basis, generating a huge number of data points indicative of: where, when, and by whom music has been listened to; on which devices; and on which wireless networks.

UNDERSTANDING EVERYTHING

In order to analyze, better understand and act upon the music trends that take over the world - or, because of their geo-social emphasis, even a specific neighborhood in NY! - the team at Soundtracker use BIME’s data visualization dashboards. In the beginning, their focus was on analyzing data coming from user activities - a type of data that is growing exponentially and, implicitly, giving way to in-depth analysis of app usage patterns and behaviours. But as Soundtracker became more and more popular, the team started to integrate and analyze more and more data sources. Today, from the technical team to board members, Soundtrackers start their week by analyzing insights from listening trends, web analytics, social media stats to advertising campaigns and marketing activity KPIs through BIME dashboards.

In today’s digital world, it is crucial to have every piece of information that can influence and put you in better control of your business. Soundtracker was looking for a powerful and easy-to-use Business Analytics platform that could spur our business growth. BIME is the answer to that.
— Daniele Calabrese, CEO of Soundtracker

 

Since their launch in 2009, Soundtracker designed at MIT a brilliant geo-discovery system that is able to follow - through unique action IDs - everything related to music activities done within the app: listens, favorites, shares, repeats, skips, comments, chats, per station, per song, per artist and the list goes on and on. And they have a huge amount of data stored in their systems - just think about the simple fact that the app is available on more than 20 platforms (OSs as well as devices) with the latest launches on Google Chromecast and Google Glass where Soundtracker is rapidly becoming popular.


Soundtracker is available worldwide on the following platforms: iOS, Android, Web, Windows Phone, Windows 8, Nokia Java, Symbian, Meego, BB10, Tizen, Bada, Google TV, Amazon Store, Samsung Apps, Nook, Opera, Google Glass, Google Chromecast, and Samsung TV. Work is underway in the Automotive and Health & Fitness spaces.


THE MUSIC LAYER OF THE WORLD

Every day, the Soundtracker team is keen to analyze and learn about the way people are discovering music as they are striving to build what they call ‘the music layer of the world’.

Drawing from the huge music catalog of Soundtracker, users can create geo-localized music stations featuring their favorite artists, and then listen to them with their friends in real-time. Additionally, users are able to discover new music and new people wherever they are through GPS technology. Soundtracker’s social features also offer users the opportunity to chat with each other or even directly with artists, share stations via Facebook, Twitter and e-mail, and geo-tag music on Facebook, Twitter, Google+, and Foursquare.

In addition, Soundtracker brings its brand new feature, ‘social proximity based listening’ which is going to augment the user experience and make them able to enjoy realtime listening and proximity based discovery with the whole Soundtracker community connected nearby. Suddenly, people are becoming data-driven fans, DJs, artists, event organizers or even producers.

THE (DATA) RECORDING STUDIO

Back in 2013, the Soundtracker team realized they needed a tool that allowed them to constantly monitor and dynamically analyze each dimension coming from the variety of sources they have.

The crucial role of BIME was helping us in the process of aggregating these data sources and exhibiting the queries in a very simple way. BIME’s simplicity and customization were a good fit for getting us started with our analysis process.
— Edoardo Balloi, Data Analytics Engineer at Soundtracker

Thus, they are able to analyze several areas of interest as they go from a macro point of view to a detailed one. They have several customizable features (such as event tracking) in the app and in the back end which allows them to gather crucial information about their core business, and analyze music traffic, user activity, user flow, and behavior. Since they started using BIME. The team has been analyzing, through cloud-based dashboards, a whole series of factors that influence app features, customer retention or experience across different devices, being able to take decisions that have enhanced their entire user cycle.

From the very start, the team set up a layer between the raw data that comes from their server and the BIME engine and, since they had the resources to put everything on relational databases, the majority of the data sources were linked through BIME's SQL connector. Once the data flow was up and running, they were able to set up the first version of their dashboards in just a couple of months. Nevertheless, the Soundtracker team considers this as a continuous process - they are constantly improving their analysis methods as new data flows in and they find better ways to augment it.

BIME has surely increased the speed and efficiency of our data analysis work. For example, if we notice something wrong or we want to gather particular insight into a specific dimension or segment and the data sources that can answer the question are already connected, we can answer these questions in a couple of days.
— concludes Edoardo Balloi

By aggregating different metrics from the data sources, they were able to understand and identify a series of key patterns. For example, they managed to track the most active station creators or the most followed influencers and understand the drive and the success behind their activities - today, the user with the highest number of stations has created over 2,000 stations.

They also dived into the evolving mechanics behind their top stations - the most played / liked / listened  stations gather more than 1,000 listeners plus thousands of comments. Last but not least, they were able to shape their strategy by analyzing timings - the most musical periods of the day, of a certain season or a whole year.

Real-time dashboards also allowed the Soundtracker team to enhance their data-driven marketing decision making by connecting to their Google Analytics and Facebook Insights data. As they followed their ad campaigns in correlation with their web and mobile analytics, they were, for example, immediately able to spot discrepancies between pageviews and ad requests and act upon refining their ad formats thus, efficiently monetizing their traffic. Without these, they would have missed out on significant monetizable content, diminishing their revenue growth.

Several team members involved in the data analysis process are working with BIME on an almost daily basis. With BIME, they produce a weekly report for stakeholders and investors. These reports include all of the key parameters and metrics that show these interested parties how the business has performed during the week for each dimension (user activity, transactions, advertising, music, core activity, etc.).

BIME is also used to analyze particular segments and dimensions while working with partners in order to understand, for example, what benefits will be brought to the partnership, what's best to focus on, and the potential of having Soundtracker as a partner.

THE PROXIMUSIC

The use of a cloud BI solution such as BIME has been a natural decision for Soundtracker as the amount of information in the field of music applications approaches the BigData level.

The founder of Soundtracker believes that, in the near future, “4 major cornerstones will influence music analytics: a diversifying social life, the complexity of human behavior, the rise of online networks and the growing multitude of devices.”

Now more than ever - in the globally connected world or - as we like to call it - the glocal world - the new concept of proximity is radically influencing music tastes and music itself as an art form.