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Apple puts its artist data platform properly live

By | Published on Friday 9 August 2019

Apple Music

Apple Music has finally taken its stats-for-artists platform out of beta, so that Apple Music For Artists is now fully available to any verified act and their management team.

The service, which was already in beta at the start of last year, is – of course – Apple’s rival to the popular Spotify For Artists platform. They exist because, between the artist and the streaming service, is a label or distributor which is the entity that automatically receives usage and financial reporting from the likes of Spotify and Apple. Some of those labels and distributors do a good job of sharing that data with their artists, other less so.

Spotify first started sharing usage data directly with artists and managers – circumventing the label – in a period when certain key players in the artist community were speaking out against the streaming business model. The aim was to build more direct relationships with those artists. And also to placate acts who were disappointed with the royalties they were getting via their label or distributor by saying “but look at all this great data, use that to inform your marketing and tours!”

For managers in particular, Spotify For Artists became an incredibly valuable tool. So much so that many managers – even when working with labels or distributors that do have decent data portals – still rely more on the Spotify service. Even though it doesn’t provide financial information and, of course, isn’t able to compare Spotify plays with performance on other streaming set-ups.

With all that in mind, once Apple entered the streaming market, managers quickly put pressure on the tech giant to develop its own For Artists data service. Many of those proactive managers were then involved in the pilot, and have therefore been using the Apple stats platform for a while now, watching it slowly evolve as it tries to catch up with Spotify’s service.

Now available to all artists via desktop and an iOS app, Apple Music For Artists provides most of the data you’d expect, like how often tracks have been played, and where the plays originated from, geographically and in terms of access point, such as playlist. Thanks to Apple’s 2017 acquisition of Shazam, data from that music identification service is also included.

Most streaming services have or are developing similar data portals that can be directly accessed by artists and their management teams.

Although, as the streaming market matures and diversifies, so that artists are earning decent royalties from a larger number of services – certainly on a global basis – service-specific data portals will become less useful. Simply because artists and managers won’t want to be constantly logging in and out of apps. And being able to compare performance across multiple streaming services will become ever more important.

That is where good label and distributor data portals can still add value, even if at the moment many managers tune out of those in favour Spotify and Apple For Artists. And, of course, labels and distributors are in a position to share more information about money and deals, maybe even all 20 of the data points listed in the MMF Transparency Guide produced by CMU Insights. Not that anyone – even the best labels and distributors – has achieved that as yet.