Pandora buys Next Big Sound to go deeper into analytics

Next Big Sound is a music analytics platform that tracks artist mentions across social networks

Financial trends and news by Steven Loeb
May 19, 2015
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In recent years the rise of streaming has also led to a rise in animosity from artists toward services that they feel don't adequately pay them for their work. It has even led some big artists to completely remove their work from streaming service altogether. Others have just publicly blasted them: Jimmy Buffett flat out asked Spotify CEO Daniel Ek for a raise, while Radiohead frontman Thom Yorke called the service, "the last desperate fart of a dying corpse," and members of Pink Floyd have accused Pandora of skimping out on royalties. 

To put it mildly, there is no love lost between these two sides.

Pandora, which happens to be the most popular streaming service out there with 80 million users, has an ace up its sleeve, though: the treasure trove of data it has collected from all of those millions of listeners. That is very valuable information, and the company is willing to share it, not only to make money but to create a bridge with a music industry that is increasingly skeptical of its value. 

The company announced on Tuesday that it has purchased music analytics company Next Big Sound to give artists and labels even more tools to reach their fans. 

Next Big Sound is an online music analytics platform tracking artists’ popularity and profitability across major social networks. It tracks every listen on the radio, every play on YouTube, every mention and follow on Twitter, every purchase on iTunes, and every concert and press mention.

Pandora will use the service in conjunction with the Artist Marketing Platform (AMP), which it launched in September of last year. The tool " allows every musician on Pandora to view their entire audience and listening history on the service," Tim Westergren, co-founder of Pandora, said in a blog post. They are using the information to help plan tours, decide set lists and understand their fans. 

It will also help complement the Artist Audio Messaging, a product, which was launched in February, that enables direct communication between artists and fans.

"Like us, Next Big Sound has been focused for years on transforming the music industry through data. By folding in their broad data architecture and applying it to our more than 80 million active monthly users, we will be poised to become the most powerful and effective marketing and promotions tool for artists, managers, agents, publishers, promoters, labels and brands across the music industry," said Westergren.

"This acquisition will bring us one step closer to the dream I envisioned back at the founding of Pandora, inspired by my own years as a touring musician: to give talented working artists a shot at lifelong careers; for every music maker a global marketing and communications platform at their fingertips."

For Next Big Sound, being purchased by Pandora will give it much larger scale than it would have achieved without Pandora's resources.

"For the past six years our mission has been to transform the music industry through making social, streaming, and sales data useful to artists and their teams," the company wrote in its own blog post. "There is no better way to further our mission than to become part of the leading music service, Pandora, whose belief in the infinite power of music aligns completely with our own."

Going forward, the company says that it will be "business as usual" for its clients, partners and artists, and that it will "continue to provide best-in-class analytics and enhance our platform with access to the number one most requested data source: Pandora."

Pandora is not the first company to discover the power of analytics, of course, not is it the first music streaming company to make an acquisition in this space.

In March of last year Spotify acquired The Echo Nest, a music intelligence company used by many of its competitiors in order to help them understand what their listeners want to hear. Other services subsequently dropped The Echo Nest after the purchase. The company had raised over $25 million, including a $7 million round, led by Matrix Partners with participation from previous investor, Commonwealth Capital, in October 2010.

In January, Apple bought Semetric, the company behind  analytics tool Musicmetric, which is similar to Next Big Sound. It allows music labels to track data on information such as sales, BitTorrent downloads and social network mentions for artists. The company had raised $4.7 million in funding from Imperial Innovations and Pentech Ventures.

Launched in 2009, Next Big Sound had raised just under $8 million in funding from investors that included Foundry Group, IA Ventures, Troy Henikoff, SoftTech VC, David Cohen, Alsop Louie Partners and David Cancel.

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The Echo Nest
Description: The Echo Nest is a music intelligence company founded by Tristan Jehan and Brian Whitman, who met at the MIT Media Lab while they were bo...
Next Big Sound
Description: The Next Big Sound shifts the current music industry model on its head by allowing anyone the chance to play the role of an record execut...
Description: Pandora, the leading internet radio service, gives people music they loveanytime, anywhere, through a wide variety of connected devices: ...

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