What I Learned at the Berklee College of Music Onsite (Day 1, Pt. 1)

For the past 18 months, I have been continuing my education in Artist Management at Berklee College of Music online. I recently completed the Master Certificate program, but wanted to put faces to my fellow online students and mentors. I quickly bought a ticket to the Berklee Onsite, a networking and music business conference geared towards the online students.

Day One technically started on a Thursday night with a meet-and-greet fueled by libations at a local Boston pub, but for the sake of this piece, we'll call that Day Zero.

Day One of the conference kicked off Friday morning (June 2) with 275 people from 20 countries stuffed in Berklee's gorgeous Performance Center, graced by a keynote speech from Alex White, CEO of the music analytics company Next Big Sound.

Credit: berklee.edu

Credit: berklee.edu

White explained that Next Big Sound - now owned by Pandora - began in 2009 as a project for his Northwestern University entrepreneurship class. Back then, White and his project mates envisioned a world where fans could bid on their favorite artists and add them to their own "virtual label," similar to a virtual fantasy sports league.

The company quickly pivoted, doubling down on their social media analytics tracking to try and "reverse engineer the Billboard charts" and determine how exactly an artist becomes famous, according to White.

2015 saw Pandora's acquisition of Next Big Sound, causing companies like Shazam, Spotify, and others to pull their data from the service. Though lacking those important data points, NBS is still a robust (and free!) service that I highly recommend all artists, managers, and labels sign up to track your social media insights and fan demographics all in one place.

I asked Alex White what the future holds for NBS, as Pandora sells off some of its fruitless acquisitions and continues to lay off large chunks of its staff. He remained optimistic, and alluded to the relationships they hold with major labels and artist managers.

Since the conference, Sirius XM has invested $480 million into Pandora, ensuring the company and its subsidiaries will be around for some time to come.

For more information on how to best use Next Big Sound and other analytics tools to your advantage, look out for my next post on Grassroots Touring & Tour Marketing.