Big Data Can't Find Austin's Songs
Some time ago I worked with an artist named Austin. Austin was immensely talented and equally tortured. He's been writing songs since he was twelve and drinking whiskey since he was fifteen. Austin doesn't own a computer, doesn't use social media, and he lost his cellphone number because he couldn't pay his bill. Five managers have walked away, and he's been tossed out of venues up and down the east coast. Nevertheless, he's got a good heart, striking charisma, a commanding voice, and he effortlessly writes the kind of timeless songs that are loved by everyone that hears them. Beyond being a bit of a drunk, Austin's biggest mistake is endlessly waiting for the rockstar bus; he's invested twenty thousand hours into being a musician...with no plan B.
On the other side of town, Cara graduated from a notable university with a degree in music. She has been playing piano and guitar since she was ten. You can find Cara on Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, and she operates her own Wordpress site. Cara is attractive, fit, and energetic. She records music with a notable producer, is managed by a pro, and plays to packed rooms in her hometown. Not only does Cara have over ten thousand fans, friends, and followers, her family supports her in every way imaginable. I like to watch Cara perform, but I can't whistle a note or recite a chorus from a single one of her songs.
You can find entertaining Caras all over the world. They are everywhere. You can't find Austin anywhere. He's barely on the Internet. His unmastered recordings are decaying on a hard drive in a defunct studio, and the venues that loved him have given up trying to find him.
If you want to be in the label business of discovering, co-writing, developing, producing, investing in, and promoting dozens of Caras in the hope of creating a (360 degree) breakout, big data can help you. However, if you are looking for Austin's unpromoted songs, big data falls on its face.
Given the risk, the failure rate, and the lottery machine nature of the music industry, I would rather promote one of Austin’s songs versus discovering a dozen Caras.
Sure, the big labels and a few independents have a formula for making Caras into celebrities, but it’s expensive, inefficient, and the product is often bland and repetitive.
To date, nobody has created a machine that finds Austin's songs. Given where the world (consumption, demand, streaming, etc.) is heading, this is what I want to invest in.
Meanwhile, you can find me at Cara’s next gig. ~Bruce