I’ve always been fascinated with how talent agencies operate. Back 4 years ago, I wrote about creating a Talent Agency for video game athletes. The idea of a “Talent Agent” is sexy to me because they get to identify and grow people. In some ways, I do this for early stage technology, as both an investor and advertising agency executive.
While I’ve not walked the halls of Creative Artists Agency or William Morris Agency in quite some time, though I did back in 2001-2003 when I had a music company, I would hope that they are investing in tools and capabilities to digitally mine petabytes of data to identify the next Justin Bieber or Lady Gaga. I’d argue it’s all in the data, similar to Moneyball, and finding the next big franchise requires servers, algorithms, formulas, and a few quants.
The story of Bieber is told almost every day now – his mother uploaded videos of him to YouTube playing various instruments and they started gaining momentum… and was found by a music industry exec and ultimately signed to a big deal. Now he’s a huge pop star sensation and a true early stage success story.
But what interests me is less about the star herself, but the tools and resources necessary to identify the potential star.
Lets start with YouTube since we spoke about it above and it’s the lowest hanging fruit. With billions of views and hundreds of millions of viewers, the data that YouTube has on video viewership is tremendous. Are there any companies who have built platforms on top of YouTube that allow the big (or small) talent houses to be alerted when videos are catching fire (or going “viral”) or the ability to track certain upcoming artists for their views and ratings? If CAA or WMA wasn’t doing this, it’s almost negligent.
Could CAA or WMA be one of the largest purchaser or subscriber of the bit.ly database? I’d hope so.
But digital doesn’t just start and stop with YouTube. What if you could take all the YouTube output from above and cross reference that with Google Insights for Search: and examine all the trend volume around specific artists or videos. By doing this, you get a linguistic and geographic context to the output. Is Artist A trending in Sweden and Switzerland or just one of the above places?
Taking YouTube and adding Google Insights for Search is getting better, but what if you could layer a social media monitoring solution on top of this? So for an A&R executive at a record label, or an artist manager at a management firm, they could not only see media hits (stories), but sentiment and momentum numbers? There are way too many monitoring solutions in the marketplace today so I’d have to think that one or two of them have cracked the code to sell into the talent industry.
Trendrr has done some interesting things for this space as they allow the pivoting of different datasets together. You can pivot Gaga album sales (Amazon) with Twitter followers to see if there are correlations. A good start, especially in bringing together different databases and making them queryable.
While I’ve done virtually no research into this post about whether or not these platform(s) exist or not, it’s something that should and someone should build it.