Music Bloggers: The New Radio Program Managers

One of the core features of StereoGrid is the Analytics Dashboard that we provide to music bloggers. When bloggers post music to their websites using our StereoGrid media player widgets, we aggregate what we refer to as song engagement metrics to their dashboards. This allows our users to see how their audiences engage with the music that they post.

We often debate the importance of providing bloggers with song engagement metrics. Some bloggers have said that they don’t necessarily care about song engagement metrics, while others seem to use StereoGrid specifically for this reason.

We define song engagement metrics as: plays, downloads, play starts, play finishes, social shares, and viral spread.

User engagement metrics include: visits, pageviews, and visit duration.

We think that both are important, but for very different reasons.

Music bloggers, just like other web property owners, pay the most attention to visits and pageviews because increasing these metrics usually means increased revenues from display advertising. They tend to go about increasing these metrics in a number of ways:

  • Exclusive Releases – There are certain bloggers that receive new releases directly from artists and labels prior to other bloggers. Having an exclusive more often than not results in increased traffic by having the release prior to other bloggers.
  • Speed to Post – Aggregators like HypeMachine reward bloggers for being the first to discover what ends up becoming a “Popular” song. This makes having an exclusive release even more important, as exclusivity often means posting the song first, and benefiting from traffic from music aggregators.
  • Covering Big Name Artists – Some bloggers go niche and only cover certain genres of music, or only indie artists vs. major label artists. Other bloggers cover all genres and all artists. We’d argue that the bloggers that release the highest volume of music from the most well-known artists are going for pageviews as opposed to curating only the good releases of the day.
  • Unique Editorial – The window in which any one blogger truly has an exclusive on a release is shrinking to minutes or maybe even hours. As soon as a song is digital, it will spread elsewhere. Having a unique editorial viewpoint on the music that is being posted can result in more eyeballs. Visitors will come to not only listen to the music, but to hear about it from the unique viewpoint of the author.
  • SEO – Sometimes underrated or overlooked, SEO is still extremely valuable in driving traffic. When people have recently heard a song, know a lyric, or simply want to discover new music, they do a search. People not only search by artist, song title, or lyric, but also genre based searches like “best rap songs,” “best rock songs,” “top 10 rappers,” etc. These types of searches are often overlooked by bloggers, but can drive tremendous traffic if the website is optimized accordingly.

At the end of the day, music bloggers aren’t that different from radio station program managers. For the most part, both want to play and write about music that will aggregate the most listeners – at least, if they’re concerned about making money. Where the two differ lies in the song engagement metrics and frequency of content.

Radio program managers are reliant on data from services like Nielson BDS and MediaBase, which monitor radio airplay across the nation. The beauty of the internet is that not only can we monitor what music is playing where, but we can immediately monitor additional signals that can inform whether or not our bloggers’ audiences are actually engaging with what they post using song engagement metrics – how many people listen to the full song, how many people share the song to social networks like Facebook and Twitter, and how many other bloggers post the song after the initial blogger posts it?

Whereas radio program managers have to determine the optimal mix between current and recurrent songs – playing current music versus playing older popular music over the course of an hour, bloggers typically only curate brand new music.

StereoGrid, by aggregating and sharing song engagement metrics with our bloggers, helps our bloggers be the best curators possible when determining what new music to post. Then after they post, showing how their audience reacts to their choice in breaking that artist, or taking a chance on a new single from an established artist. By paying attention to song engagement metrics bloggers can ensure that they positively influence their user engagement metrics. We want our music bloggers to continue being the best “program managers” in the world, so we give them the metrics they need to be so.

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