Evolution of the Music Industry – How Big Data was the catalyst!


Big Data has influenced almost every industry today. The music industry has also been a benefactor of Big Data.

Let’s see how the music industry has come a long way with the influx of Big Data.

How the music industry suffered!

A few years back, it was believed that technology and the internet were bringing about the downfall of the music industry.

This was primarily due to peer to peer (P2P) networks and illegal downloading!

This was the case not due to technological advancements but because the music industry could not keep up with how fast technology was advancing.

Well, music was expensive to download and listen to and there wasn’t any disruptor in the field.

Apple came out with iTunes and yes it was a success if you consider that only users of Apple could enjoy maximum benefits.

So, usage across devices was an issue there. Problems were also faced with respect to digital rights management.

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Following this, streaming finally came along. The much needed disruptor that I was talking about earlier.

Streaming offered the much needed solution to counter illegal downloading. Videos could now be viewed free, thanks to YouTube. Music could be streamed across all devices as well.

Music and Technology worked hand in hand again!

The Big Data Impact!

This modern day romance was reignited by big data and big data analytics.

For the music industry to thrive it needs to continuously evolve and by this I mean that the relationship between music and the listeners needs to evolve in a creative way.

We now have AI powered recommendation engines like the extremely powerful one used by YouTube, you have the IoT enabled pop concerts as well – go to a Taylor Swift concert and you will be given an LED wrist band (powered by RFID technology) that lights up in automatically in the same color in tune to her songs.

She definitely is leveraging IoT analytics to win the concert game.

During the early 2000’s, the music industry literally had no understanding of the audience, meaning who was buying the CDs, LPs or cassettes.

Since the era of downloading music started, companies have found ways to track what is being downloaded and by whom, giving them an insight into listening behavior and further being able to provide them with recommendations.

Moving further into the future, the current model – Streaming! This service has allowed an even more detailed insight into the listener demographics and preferences.

With big data being able to provide essential insights as to what the listeners want, the music industry is able to give them that.

Predicting the future in the Music Industry!

Predicting the future is a very big thing in the music industry.

The scale of prediction ranges from what a user may want next on their playlist to predicting what the next Despacito will be.

Big Data has helped the music industry with exactly that.

There was a recent research that revealed that an algorithm had been developed, which could predict the position of songs on the billboard charts. Mind you, they were pretty accurate.

The Musical Genome Project

This project was developed by Pandora Media. The project used manual classification and automated algorithms to structure music data.

An upper limit of 450 data points per song is collected. This currently stands at an astounding 30 million for the whole database.

The data point parameters include the vocalist gender, instrument being played and rhythm tempo.

Specially trained musicians study each track and classify them. This is similar to how Netflix pays people to watch their content and classify them.

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This structuring of music data allows tracks to be compared to each other, genres to be created and will algorithmically predict what the user may want to listen to next.

Spotify and Big Data!

We all know what Spotify is – The largest commercial music streaming service available today.

After being launched in 2008, Spotify has gained enormous momentum. To give you an insight as to why it is the largest streaming service today, here are a few facts:

  • More than 25 million registered
  • 8 million paying users
  • 25 million songs online
  • Nearly 20000 songs being added everyday
  • More than 1 billion playlists have been created

What does this tell us? Spotify would cease to exist without Big Data.

Spotify, being a data driven company uses advanced analytics to dissect the large volumes of data it generates.

Let me throw a few numbers your way to prove how Spotify makes use of Big Data:

  1. 600 GB of data is generated everyday by Spotify users
  2. On an everyday basis, 4 TB of data is generated in Hadoop. This is a cluster containing 700 nodes that runs more than 2000 jobs every day.
  3. 4 data centers around the world manage the 28 PB of data that Spotify has a framework called Luigi that it developed. With the objective of data definition and execution, Luigi which is a python based framework, handles all the data.

Luigi crunches tons of data (which are mostly user centric) and helps with recommended radio channels or ideal playlists.

The data is used to forecast trends and business analytics.

Here is how Spotify used Big Data to make a statement.

The 2013 Grammy’s – Spotify took all the streaming data, obtained the most played songs based on listener habits.

The most played songs and albums that were being streamed were the parameters for popularity. Using this, Spotify managed to predict 4 out of the 6 winners at the Grammy’s.

Would Spotify have become this big without Big Data and Analytics? The answer is a resounding NO!

As Spotify grows, the listener base also grows and in turn increases the amount of data generated.

With all that data, there will definitely be phenomenal use of Big Data services in the forthcoming years.

Better recommendations, better predictions and giving the listeners what they want are something you can definitely expect.

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The Big Data Takeover!

Today, Big Data is a huge part of our lives whether we know it or not.

Most of our technology relies on Big Data and would cease to exist without it.

Take any industry that comes to mind – music, food, fashion, movie – Big Data has already taken over!

Author: Abhimanyu Sundar
Abhimanyu is a sportsman, an avid reader with a massive interest in sports. He is passionate about digital marketing and loves discussions about Big Data.