Streaming Music and the Music Social Media Landscape

Small group of young adults are videoing themselves dancing in the rain while at a funfair.

One of the most significant tools in the independent musician’s arsenal in the early 21st century are data metrics as they apply to music. A sturdy amount of data is collected about an audience’s tastes, listening habits, location, and many other useful data points that are then interacted with in all sorts of meaningful ways. This is known as music metric analytics. Many argue that music data metrics are the future in how an artist decides how to engage with and grow their audience. In reality, though, the future is already here and if an artist is not using this valuable tool, they are putting themselves at a severe disadvantage.

What are Music Data Metrics?


Data has been collected on consumers for some time. Companies use it to figure out how to market products to the public. They need to know the who, when, how, where, and why as far as it relates to whatever music is put out for sale. In the past, it would take a team of people to configure relevant information about a group of consumers. Now, much of the information about who interacts with what music is immediately available on social media.


This information can assist an independent artist who has put their music up for streaming, to easily find out about their listener’s location and gender, the time of the day they generally engage with media and what songs get listened to the most, along with a whole range of other data. One could use this information to design strategies on how to grow one’s audience as well as how to more successfully engage with a current audience. With so much competing music available at the public’s fingertips, this sort of information has become vital for artists to know how to keep their audience’s attention and support.



Soundcloud first came onto the scene in 2009 in Berlin. At the time, it was seen by the public as another Myspace. What ended up happening though, is that Soundcloud became a deeply collaborative way for musicians to interact with each other and the interested public. This was particularly true with dance music and hip-hop. Many hip-hop careers were launched through Soundcloud, starting with Odd Future (as a notable early example) and going as far as now-mainstream artists like Chance The Rapper and Post Malone. Soundcloud is so tied-in with a particular sound-aesthetic that a whole sub-genre of rap is now known as “Soundcloud Rap”. As an independent artist, having one’s music on Soundcloud and making use of their various metric analyzation tools (some free and some only available with a paid “pro” account), independent artists can better tailor their music to their specific audience.



Spotify was launched from Sweden in 2008. After gaining a million paid subscribers for a service that makes nearly all music available for easy streaming, Spotify was made available to the United States in 2011. Spotify has taken over in recent years as the place to go for streaming music. Several other companies have tried to take their place, but Spotify definitely reigns supreme by continuing to be innovative in its approach and partnerships. In fact, when most people think of streaming music, they think of Spotify.


For most listeners, an independent artist doesn’t even have music out until it is on Spotify. Spotify offers a service for independent artists called “Spotify for Artists” that gives them access to music data metrics as well as the ability to manage their own profile in order to control how they come up in a search. The independent artist is also able to do things like post playlists, feature tracks, and post a bio. Also, extremely helpful is the ability to see what other music their listeners are listening to. This can lead to getting on a popular playlist, which can be a major part in launching new careers.



Pandora began as an extension of what was called the Music Genome Project. This project was developed as a connector between various musical artists using approximately 450 different criteria. The idea was to predict what else a listener would like if they liked a certain song based on the characteristics that make up that song. As a listener chose more and more songs, the system was able to fine-tune its musical selection delivery. This morphed into Pandora, where online listeners create their own personal “radio stations” that include songs based upon their individual likes, determined by the connecting threads between various songs the listener chooses. It has become so ubiquitous that many new cars come equipped with it.


From the beginning, the founders had a commitment to using their platform to help break new artists. The idea being that if an unknown artist has their music on Pandora, at some point, Pandora will select their song if it fits the right criteria for a listener who has not previously heard it.


Pandora music data metric could be used to help an independent artist. Co-founder Tim Westergren hinted at a near-future on Start-up Grind where “artists could pull up their listening stats for a city en route between big shows, quickly create a short ad about an impromptu show, have that ad air only to their listeners, and then play a performance to an intimate audience the same or next day.”



It is likely that you are hopping onto YouTube to watch something at least once a day on average. However, you might not realize that every time you watch something on YouTube, nearly every conceivable metric around that view is being logged and analyzed by the person that posted it. YouTube makes it easy for the person posting the video to do so by providing powerful analytics to the independent artist who is really looking to understand how their content is engaging with their audience. The metric options available to digest don’t end with just the demographics of their viewers, but includes everything from how often a viewer watches to the keywords that led viewers to the videos. Someone can easily determine how long a typical view of their video is, and how engaged a viewer is by how they interact (comments, likes, shares, etc.). What they learn here does not need to be limited to interactions with YouTube. This is extremely valuable information for how to fine-tune an entire online presence, to get eyes/ears engaged with a one’s work as well as maintaining audience interest.

The Fate of Google+


Google+ is worth mentioning as it has been a well-known but more niche tool for independent artists in engaging with their audience. When it was first launched, it was thought that it would become as popular as Facebook. That never happened. Furthermore, recently there has been big enough data breaches for it to make sense for Google to shut the platform down. The consumer-end of the platform is expected to be completely offline by 2020, so be warned it may not be worth the time spent on this platform as a means of building your audience.


This also brings up an important lesson about an online presence. Independent artists need to be as liquid as they can, pivoting to change with the times when necessary. That doesn’t mean they need to change who they are as an artist, just the way in which they engage with their audience. As much as an independent artist may love what one platform has to offer, technology and tastes change all the time, so when public interest moves away from one platform to another, it may be integral in maintaining relevancy to an audience (and future audience) by being aware of these shifts.

Analyzing the Data Across the Various Platforms


In order to keep on top of all these metrics across various platforms, an independent artist will need to put the time aside to make sense of it all. It may be daunting at first. Just like anything else, you get out of it what you put in. If an independent artist has a presence (or plans on creating one) on some or all of the platforms listed above, they owe it to their career to keep track of how their audience is engaging with their work and how to build upon that engagement and audience for growth. If trying to make sense of this seems like too much, there are services out there that can crunch the data across all platforms and provide simple strategies to follow.


We are now in a period where there is so much social media stimuli vying for the attention of a potential audience. Having and using all of the data available about the people that are engaging with one’s music is necessary to enjoy and long and successful music career. The numerous and valuable metrics available when utilizing the platforms listed above can help to make that a reality, as well as prepare an independent artist for whatever curveballs may come along (and they always do) in the ever evolving music social media landscape.

Did learning about the music social media landscape interest you? University of Silicon Valley empowers aspiring audiophiles to master their craft. Our audio and music technology students are exposed to new ideas and industry-grade equipment and are presented with challenges designed to unlock their creativity.


University of Silicon Valley is here for the aspiring artists and engineers who live in music and think in sound effects. You want to make great digital audio content on industry-standard recording equipment? University of Silicon Valley will train you in our Audio & Music Production concentration of our BS in Digital Audio Technology degree program. You’re ready to create the audio gear of tomorrow?  Then you’ll want to explore our innovative Audio Software Development & Engineering concentration, designed for those who dare to disrupt the industry with technology.


University of Silicon Valley is uniquely poised to offer a meaningful and valuable education for 21st century students. We believe in an education that directly correlates with the work you’ll be doing after you graduate. Interested in learning more? Contact Us today.

Subscribe to the Newsletter