For a vast majority of music listeners, the desire for agency over their favorite artists is nearly inextricable from the appreciation of that artist’s work. Though many would be embarrassed to admit it, there are few of us musical super-fans that haven’t, at one point, engaged in an argument over who is the biggest fan of Nero, Gesaffelstein, Jack Ü, et cetera.
Now Spotify is rolling out a feature that can allow those entrenched in such arguments to back up their cases with hard data. Currently in beta testing, Spotify’s new “Fan Insights” tool displays metrics that delineate the listening background of artists on the platform. According to Factmag:
“The dashboard starts with an overview of the artist’s main statistics, including how many Spotify listeners they’ve got and how those listeners break down by gender, age and location (the latter being useful to plan tour stops).”
Where the insights feature becomes more specified – and more germane to settling disputes of fandom validity – is in it’s tiered breakdown of artists’ listeners:
“[Listeners] are divided into subcategories, starting with ‘fans’ – people who’ve listened to an artist several times in recent months and have saved their music to their collections. Next there are ‘streakers’, who’ve listened to an artist every day in the last week, ‘loyalists’, who’ve listened to that artist more than any other, and ‘regulars’, who’ve listened to the artist the majority of days in the last month.”
However, Fan Insights isn’t necessarily novel in its aforementioned application: in pre-Spotify days, fans were already able to do this on the (albeit smaller) Last FM platform. Proving claims of artist devotion is only a fringe benefit of the insights feature. According Spotify product VP Charlie Hellman, this data is important to artists and managers because of how it can guide them to target their marketing. Hellman noted that”fans and superfans have a disproportionate impact on revenue: they’re the people who’ll buy tickets, VIP packages, merchandise and will be the social evangelists for the band.”
Fan Insights also look to retarget how artists and management analyze their presence in the media space by refocusing from number of streams, to the source of streams. Spotify’s Head of Artist Services Mark Williamson notes that “The problem with ‘streams’ is that they go up almost no matter what happens: as Spotify adds millions more users, streams go up…What’s useful with ‘listeners’ is that they are the context of real people – real sets of ears – as opposed to what can be an abstract context of millions of streams. Listeners gives [sic] you a sense of your actual fans out there.”