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Music’s ‘Moneyball’ moment: why data is the new talent scout | Financial Times
JULY 5, 2018 | FT | Michael Hann.

The music industry loves to self-mythologise. It especially loves to mythologise about taking young scrappers from the streets and turning them into stars. It celebrates the men and women — but usually the men — with “golden ears” almost as much as the people making the music....A&R, or “artists and repertoire”, are the people who look for new talent, convince that talent to sign to the record label and then nurture it: advising on songs, on producers, on how to go about the job of being a pop star. It’s the R&D arm of the music industry......What the music business doesn’t like to shout about is how inefficient its R&D process is. The annual global spend on A&R is $2.8bn....and all that buys is the probability of failure: “Some labels estimate the ratio of commercial success to failure as 1 in 4; others consider the chances to be much lower — less than 1 in 10,” observes its 2017 report. Or as Mixmag magazine’s columnist The Secret DJ put it: “Major labels call themselves a business but are insanely unprofitable, utterly uncertain, totally rudderless and completely ignorant.”......The rise of digital music brought with it a huge amount of data which, industry executives realized, could be turned to their advantage. ....“All our business units must now leverage data and analytics in innovative ways to dig deeper than ever for new talent. The modern day talent-spotter must have both an artistic ear and analytical eyes.”

Earlier this year, in the same week as Warner announced its acquisition of Sodatone, a company that has developed a tool for talent-spotting via data, another data company, Instrumental, secured $4.2m of funding. The industry appeared to have reached a tipping point — what the website Music Ally called “A&R’s data moment”. Which is why, wherever the music industry’s great and good gather, the word “moneyball” has become increasingly prevalent.
........YouTube, Spotify, Instagram were born and changed the way talent begins its journey. All the barriers came down. Suddenly you’ve got tens of thousands of pieces of music content being uploaded.......Home computing’s democratization of recording removed the barriers to making high-quality music. No longer did you need access to a studio and an experienced producer, plus the money to pay for them. But the music industry had no way to keep abreast of these new creators. “....The way A&R people have discovered talent has barely changed since the music industry began, and it’s fundamentally the same for indie labels, who put artistry above sales, as it is for major labels who have to answer to shareholders. It’s always been about information.....“We find them by listening to new music constantly, by people giving us tips, by going out and seeing things that sound interesting,”.....“The most useful people to talk to are concert promoters and booking agents. They are least inclined to bullshit; they’ll tell you how many people an act is drawing,” labels, publishers also have an A&R function, signing up songwriters, many of whom will also be in bands)....“Journalists and radio producers are [also] very useful people to give you information. If you know you’ve got particular DJs or particular writers who are going to pick up something, that’s really good.”
.......Instrumental’s selling point is a dashboard called Talent AI, which scrapes data from Spotify playlists with more than 10,000 followers.....“We took a view that to build momentum on Spotify, you need to be on playlists,”....“If no one knows who you are, no one’s going to suddenly start streaming a track you’ve just put up. It happens when you start getting included on playlists.”......To make it workable, the Talent AI dashboard enables users to apply a series of filters to either tracks or artists: to sort by nationality, by genre, by number of playlists they appear on, by the number of playlist subscribers, by their industry standing — are they signed to a major? To an independent label? Are they unsigned?
.......What A&R people are looking for, though, is not totals, it’s evidence of momentum. No one wants to sign the artist who has reached maximum popularity. They want the artist on the way up....“It’s the direction. Is it going in the right direction?”....when it comes to assessing what an artist can offer, the data isn’t even always about the numbers. “The one I look at the most is Instagram, because that’s the easiest way for an artist to express themselves in a way other than the music — how they look, what they’re into,” she says. “That gives a real snapshot into [them] and whether they really have formulated a world for themselves or not.”......not everyone is delighted with the drive to data. “[the advent of] Spotify...became the driving force for signings...“A&Rs were using their eyes rather than their ears — watching numbers change rather than listening to music, and then jumping on acts....they saw something happening and got it out quickly without having to invest in the traditional A&R process.”... online heat tends to be generated by transient teenage audiences who are likely to move on rather than stick around for a decade: online presence is a big thing in electronic dance music, or some branches of urban music, in which an artist might only be good for a single song. In short, data does not measure quality; it does not tell you whether an artist has 20 good songs that can be turned into their first two albums; it does not tell you whether they can command a crowd in live performance..........The music industry, of course, has always had an issue with short-termism/short-sightedness: [tension] between the people who sign the cheques and those who go to bat for the artists is built into the way it works..........The problem is that without career artists, the music industry just becomes even more of a lottery. It is being made harder, not just by short-termism, but by the fact that music has become less culturally central. “It’s so much harder to connect with an audience or grow an audience, because there’s so much noise,”
.......Today the A&R...agree that the new data has its uses, but insist it still takes second place to the evidence of their own eyes and ears.......As for Withey, he is not about to tell the old-school scouts their days are done....Instrumental can tell A&R people which artists are hot, but not which are good. Also, there will be amazing acts who simply don’t get the traction on the internet to register on the Talent AI dashboard.....All of which will come as a relief to the people running those A&R departments. .....when asked if data will become the single most important factor in scouting talent: “I hope not. Otherwise we may as well have robots.” For now, at least, the golden ears are safe.
A&R  algorithms  analytics  data  dashboards  tips  discoveries  filters  hits  Instagram  inefficiencies  momentum  music  music_industry  music_labels  music_publishing  Moneyball  myths  playlists  self-mythologize  songwriters  Spotify  SXSW  success_rates  talent  talent_spotting  tipping_points  tracking  YouTube  talent_scouting  high-quality 
july 2018 by jerryking
Indians first to ride monsoon winds
Mariners from India’s east coast exploited monsoon winds to sail to southeast Asia more than 2,000 years ago, an archaeologist has proposed, challenging a long-standing view that a Greek navigator had discovered monsoon winds much later.Sila Tripati at the National Institute of Oceanography (NIO), Goa, has combined archaeological, meteorological, and literary data to suggest that Indian mariners were sailing to southeast Asia riding monsoon winds as far back as the 2nd century BC.A 1st century AD Greek text, Periplus of the Erythreaean Sea, and a contemporary Roman geographer named Pliny have claimed that the Greek navigator, Hippalus, discovered the monsoon winds and the route across the Arabian Sea to India around 45 AD.
weather  climate  discoveries 
november 2017 by thomas.kochi
12 Mysterious Discoveries In Alaska | Best Images Collections HD For Gadget windows Mac Android
12 Mysterious Discoveries in Alaska From the discovery of deserted planes to the secret Grolar Bear Sighting These are 12 MYSTERIOUS Discoveries in Alaska ! Subscribe to American Eye 12. Orange Slime 11. King Bear Cranium 10. Large Ragfish 9. New Species of Whale 8. Lively Volcanoes 7. North America’s 1st Inhabitants 6. Grolar […]
IFTTT  WordPress  Mysterious  Abandoned  alaska  anim...  archaeology  bizarre  creature  Discoveries  Discovery  grolar  bear  Mystery  Plane  sighting  Strange  Uncovered  weird 
august 2017 by wotek
Lucy Ives on Marquis de Sade and the ‘dispassionate intimacy’ of our office culture, via
discoveries  from twitter_favs
november 2016 by lurrel
‘Keepers of private notebooks are a different breed.’ Joan Didion on why she keeps a journal.
discoveries  from twitter_favs
november 2016 by dalcrose
NOVA - Official Website | Rosalind Franklin's Legacy
A biologist professor explains why Franklin should have been awarded the Nobel Prize along with her male colleagues.
STEM  important  discoveries  Rosalind_Franklin  women  daily_reminders 
may 2016 by KuraFire
Haber, Fritz
But the devil was in the details. The only hints that such could be done required very high pressures and temperatures, and a metal catalyst. Off and on over a number of years, Haber experimented with different temperatures, pressures, and metal catalysts. He made progress using osmium and uranium. Finally, on July 3, 1909, he succeeded in his laboratory in producing ammonia yields on the order of 10% continuously for five hours.

This proved that commercial production was possible. The problem was that Haber’s process occurred in a tube 75 cm tall and 13 cm in diameter. There were no large containers that could operate at the temperatures and pressures he used. At the same company where Haber worked was another chemist, Carl Bosch. Bosch took on the challenge of escalating the chemical process to an industrial level. After thousands of experiments he perfected a method to do so that became known as the Haber-Bosch Process. 

Vaclav Smil, in his book Enriching the Earth, says that the Haber-Bosch process "has been of greater fundamental importance to the modern world than ... the airplane, nuclear energy, space flight, or television. The expansion of the world's population from 1.6 billion people in 1900 to six billion in 2000 would not have been possible without the synthesis of ammonia."  The  International Fertilizer Industry Association reports that over 100 million metric tons of nitrogen produced by the Haber-Bosch Process are applied annually to global crops, over half of it to cereal crops. Smil and others have calculated that over 2 billion people, about 40% of those alive, are fed by food grown using fertilizer from the Haber-Bosch process.  Haber received the Nobel Prize for his discovery in 1918.
history  germany  worldwar1  science  discoveries  world 
august 2015 by Aetles

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