Sorting through your plays, downloads and other online data as an artist can feel impossible. Going from many different apps like SoundCloud, Facebook, Twitter and Spotify just to find your plays can be time consuming and take you out of your creative groove. If you are a manager, having all of this in one place that you can use access on your phone is pretty vital. ForTunes is one of those data aggregators out there, allowing users to access their streaming data on an app, and soon a desktop app. It comes with good-looking visuals and easy to navigate functionality. We spoke to co-founder and CEO Florian Richling about the company, how artists can better use data and more. Download the app here.
For those who don’t know, what is ForTunes and what separates you from other music data aggregators?
ForTunes is a music data analytics service tailored to the needs of recording artists, producers and their representatives. Our service, whilst having comprehensive features, is easy and fun to use. We build analytics tools that are beneficial for music creators and that deepen the understanding of their music’s online performance.
Why did you start the company?
I have been working in the music industry from the time I was a teenager. That was about 20 years ago. Since then almost everything has changed. The way we record and produce music, the way we promote and distribute music, and the way we buy and listen to music.
When an artist in the 90s would walk out of the studio after finishing his record, he would leave his music behind. He would not know who was listening to his music and how often. Who would share his music with friends, or which songs his fans favored. Today, with all the above-mentioned aspects of producing, selling and listening to music being digitized all these questions can be answered. But, while the services such as Spotify, Youtube, Soundcloud… offer a lot of insightful data, this information is widely spread and kind of locked away in each of the platforms insights areas. This makes it time consuming to access the different data sources and sheer impossible to effectively compare.
Releasing music myself, and running a small indie label I wondered why it must be so hard to find out how my music performs across platforms and how my audience develops over time. I was surprised when I found out that there are services that use music data analytics for better reporting and talent scouting. But I could not find decent and affordable service for creators, recording artists and producers.
What were you doing before it?
I studied jazz drums when a wrist injury forced me to stop playing drums and led my way into producing music. Pretty soon I realized that I loved being in the studio and together with a friend founded my own studio, which I still run today, Highhat Studio Vienna.
As a producer and engineer I am lucky to have been working for Sony, Warner, and many indie labels and artists. Eventually I started to release music as well. Today, together with a friend I run a label called GOOD LIFE MUSIC
The time in the music industry helped me a lot starting ForTunes. Our Co-Founder, Christoph, Robert, Marco and others are music professionals themselves. That helps a lot when building a good product.
What services can people track with ForTunes?
At the moment we offer Spotify, Youtube, SoundCloud, Twitter, Facebook, (Instagram soon to come). We are also working with two services I personally use and love a lot. SubmitHub and Hype Machine.
What are some things you do to help analyze data for artists?
We notify artists about new features on Spotify playlists, blog reviews, fan or influencer uploads, audience growth and certain milestones a song or an artist achieves. We are currently working on an update that will soon go live that includes a new feature: Charts of an artist’s biggest Influencer.
Are there other streaming or download services that you are looking at you may add to your offerings? Can artists customize?
There are a lot of amazing services we are looking forward to working with: Soundsgood and WARM for example are two start-ups that both have an amazing service. WARM lets you track your music on 25k stations worldwide, in realtime. Soundsgood mirrors your playlist to other streaming platforms and therefore gives your fans convenient access to your favorite tunes.
I am a big fan of Bandcamp, CD Baby and Mixcloud and look forward to working with them soon also.
What are ways that artists can actually use this data to positively grow their career?
Is my song being playlisted? How big are the playlists? Is my song being uploaded on YouTube. How often, by whom? How many plays do this fan and influencer uploads generate? Do people write reviews and blog postings about my music? How do stats compare across various singles? And, how does my audience develop over time?
Once you put a song online, a vast amount of data is being created that can answer many questions. Not only does this help you make better decisions. It can also help a lot when negotiating. Whether you're getting in touch with a manager, a label, a booker or a brand, your online “footprint” will play a huge part in how you or your artists are being viewed.
When you are able to identify your biggest influencer, your biggest playlist curator and the biggest blogs that have supported your music, it changes the way you reflect on your releases. It will also have a positive impact on the way you plan the next steps.
At my own label GOOD LIFE MUSIC we have been using SubmitHub for quite a while. SubmitHub let’s you push your music to blogs thus helps to get your music out there. We partnered up with SubmitHub, which means that every time your run a campaign the results will show up in your ForTunes feed.
We are planning on including WARM, the radio airplay monitoring service mentioned and suggested earlier on, in a similar way.
The bottom line is, that we built ForTunes to become a navigation backbone of an artists career. Our goal is to save the artists or her representatives a ton of time while providing insights the matter.
A lot has been made recently about privacy protections with major companies. As these tech giants grapple with the potential end of selling data to anyone without explicitly notifying users, how might that impact how you can take data and use it for your platform?
We collect data on behalf of the artists, managers and labels themselves. Unlike other music data analytics companies that aggregate the data of artists for the purpose of industry benchmarking and selling, our only objective with these insights is to help artists, producers and their teams. We provide convenient access to their data and offer emancipatory and comprehensive tools to understand and evaluate it.
What are the next big steps for the company?
Almost half of the ForTunes staff have been or still are music professionals. There is a number of services we personally use and care about. We are working hard and are looking forward to integrate those services to our feed as soon as possible.
We will start to implement logins to verify an artist’s identity, which will enable us to deepen the insights and more personalize our features. This is just the beginning
If you weren’t doing this, what would you be doing?
I’d play piano on a cruise ship somewhere in the Atlantic Ocean.