The world runs on information today. Every IT giant invests heavily in sourcing data from all platforms available. Collecting and measuring information takes place at various levels. Usually established through systematic functions. These files enable the parties involved to research, test, understand, and apply in different fields.
Google, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, etc. have direct access to information about their users. This has not only furthered shaping choices of people but also in knowing user habits based on their internet usage. Similarly, the collection of documents helps the stakeholders of the music industry to mould their business modules. It also creates a better understanding of their audience.
The figures provide artists with first-hand information on their fans. Gender, age, contact details, and the location serve as basic information. Supplementary information includes music preferences, shows attended, discovery and access of music, and merchandise bought. Any form of interaction shared between the artists and fans, not restricted to music alone is also preserved.
Every information goes through filtering based on priority. Collectively, the information gathered is useful in connecting with fans through a targeted message. It can be promotions, advertising campaigns, tours, and/or other business perspectives like selling merchandise directly to the core fan base.
The artists and their management teams, usually have direct access to these platforms. But in some instances, artist’s business partners like a record label, tour promoter or a ticket agent control information sharing. These partners at times do not pass the information to the artists due to certain limitations. This may be a result of the policies and/or commercial interests of the platforms and partners. Data protection law acts as a major limitation.
The managers, on the other hand, believe that the fan relationship ultimately belongs to the artists. Thus, maximum information should be shared with the artists and their management teams. While the artists’ business partners make more use of the stored facts, artists should not feel compromised in accessing the information especially when they choose to move business partners. Assurance in retaining and accessing data also remains insecure.
Limitations faced by the artists in data ownership
In 2017 Music Managers Forum launched a Transparency Index. According to the Transparency Index, any information on the artists’ music that was streamed should be provided by each label or distributor to their managers.
Poor communication and differences in business practise sometimes create confusion in accessing statistics properly. The managers who work across labels find it the most difficult to maintain transparency.
When it comes to owning data, it is vague on who owns it completely. Whether it is the platform that reserves it, the business partner or the artists. Owning data is difficult than owning physical or intellectual property. An artists’ right to accessing data is largely dependent on data protection law. Also, the agreement signed by the fans at any point required allows and/or denies accessibility.
The artist’s right to using the collected information should favour the artists best. Thus, artists should be aware of what goes into the agreement. However, the decision primarily lies with the platform or business partner and hardly the artist. In such a situation, the artist needs to know what goes into the contract to ensure they attain the required rights.
The element of ownership also depends on whether or not the artist can prevent other people from using the information. Which brings us to the artists’ contracts with the platforms and partners along with, data protection laws compiled and agreed upon data collection.
Sometimes limitations are necessary to prevent people from using data. For instance, preventing multiple parties from sending emails from collected data to avoid confusion.
The business partners must commit to data protection law so as to help artists avail access to rights legally.
Modes of Resolution
The process of assimilating data requires thorough attention of artists and their managers. A fan data audit through the identification of platforms and partners is a good starting point. It is mandatory for artists to know their fans for the sake of marketing, branding and promotions.
Artists must be aware of the platforms that bring in the most number of fans. Most cases require business partners to have specific expertise to access and utilise the data.
Meanwhile, to avoid any hassle, the artists need a guarantee to attain data if the need arises to move business partners.
Agreements further require the involvement of the artist’s advisors, lawyers and agents. There are few relaxations included in every artist agreement despite lawyers and agents acting as active members. Managers should consider negotiating an agreement that supports sharing information as a key factor or a deal breaker.
Educating the artists and managers about their business can avoid mishaps in regard to utilisation of acquired data. Besides, the law always acts as support is limiting how it can be used and shared.
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