With more than 55 million music streaming users around the world, most of whom are paying, Amazon is the third biggest player in the global music subscriptions market behind Spotify and Apple Music.
One area in which it has lagged those rivals has been artist analytics: the data it provides artists and their teams on how their music is being streamed on its services and devices. Today, however, Amazon is launching its own equivalent of Spotify for Artists and Apple Music for Artists.
No prizes for guessing its name: Amazon Music for Artists. It’s launching today as a mobile app for iOS and Android devices, with a web dashboard to follow. There’s also a companion website offering artists advice and resources on how to build their audience on Amazon Music.
The app is English-language only at launch, but it’s available globally for artists and their teams. There will be a verification process for artists to get access to their data, but Amazon also has a deal with distributor CD Baby to provide artists who use it to get “expedited access”.
Amazon gave Music Ally a demo of the app ahead of its release, while stressing that it’s very much ‘v1’, with plenty of scope for more features and improvements in the future. One key feature at launch: the data is close to real-time, with Amazon updating it every couple of minutes.
It’s built around five tabs: Overview, Songs, Fans, Voice, and Programming. Across those, artists can choose to see their data – which is updated every couple of minutes – for the last 24 hours, the last seven days, the last 28 days, or using a custom date filter for any period since the 1 January 2018.
The Overview and Songs tabs are self-explanatory: showing quick stats for how many listeners and streams an artist has been getting on Amazon Music over the period they’ve chosen, drilling down into albums and individual tracks.
The Fans tab includes the overall listeners number, but then breaks down how many of those are ‘fans’ and ‘superfans’. Amazon is using its own methodology to decide whether a listener is a fan or superfan based on metrics including how often they listen to an artist; how long they listen for; and whether they follow their profile in the Amazon Music app or via Alexa.
For now, the app merely lets artists see these figures and understand the ratio – for the example artist Amazon showed me in the demo, around 39% of their listeners counted as fans, while 4% counted as superfans (the app shows raw numbers, not percentages though).
In the future, Amazon could develop marketing tools to help artists target or reach those keener listeners – an idea also being explored by Spotify and Pandora among other streaming services.
The Voice tab is, unsurprisingly, one of the main unique features of Amazon Music for Artists. It shows data for ‘requests’ and ‘requestors’ for an artist’s music using Amazon’s voice interface. That means people who have explicitly asked Alexa to play that artist or their specific albums or tracks – including using its lyric-matching feature.
There’s also a ‘Daily Voice Index’ which compares the artist’s performance (in terms of Alexa requests) to other musicians with similar-sized audiences on Amazon Music. It’s a sliding scale that moves from Cool to Warm to Hot to On Fire. You can imagine how this might prompt action: if an artist is languishing at the cooler end of the index, they might want to remind fans (via social media) that they can ask Alexa to play their music.
What this tab doesn’t show, at this point, is streams via Alexa where the request hasn’t been specific to the artist. For example, commands like ‘Alexa, play me happy indie music’. This seems like an obvious candidate for a future update to the app however: it would be great for artists to understand what Alexa commands and keywords are leading to their music being played beyond listeners asking for them specifically.
Finally, the Programming tab offers stats for how an artist is being featured on Amazon Music’s editorial playlists and ‘stations’, with the ability to tap through to see which tracks are featured and how many streams they’re generating from that property.
As for other questions Music Ally had about the new analytics… Some labels will have access to this data at launch, while others will need to contact their label relations person at Amazon to request it. Labels do already get data from Amazon, but the app may be a complementary tool for that – knowing how things work with Spotify and Apple’s artist dashboards, labels will likely need the artist’s approval.
Is Amazon making this data available to third-party analytics platforms like Soundcharts and Chartmetric via some kind of API, if artists want to more easily compare their Amazon data with other streaming services? At this stage, no, although it does work with some of those companies in other ways.
Today’s launch is a first step, but a welcome one for a streaming service (or rather, a set of streaming services – although the app doesn’t yet appear to down data between Prime Music, Amazon Music Unlimited and Amazon Music HD) that’s increasingly important for many artists.