Jim Carroll

Music, Life and everything else

Data skyscrapers for the book business

How data analytics company Next Big Sound are using what they’ve learned from the music industry to help the book publishing business

Fri, Jun 13, 2014, 09:55


Regular OTR readers will know that we’ve a fascination with data round these parts. It’s something we share with certain quarters of the music industry, who view data management and analysis as a smart way to gain an edge when it comes to making cash from chords.

One of the companies you’ll find in this niche are Next Big Sound. The New York-based, Boulder-born business track an act across social networks, streaming services and old-school media and translate such data into the hard, cold metrics to allow that artist’s team make the right next moves.

They’ve also worked with Billboard to use this data to create a number of weekly consumer charts. Per the latest chart, you can expect the next big sound to be provided by such acts as Jamestown Revival, Dune Rats and Raleigh Ritchie.

But it’s not just the music business who are getting hip to data and Next Big Sound. The company recently announced a partnership with book publishers MacMillan on an analytics tool called Next Big Book to crunch the data on an author’s sales, social activity and media reach. The hope is that this will give the publishers a heads-up about which books on their list are about to have a moment.

While the idea of a “Moneyball for books” might well be anathema to many in the books’ business, which retains a very old-fashioned approach to commerce, there’s no doubt such a tool could be very useful. Such analytics, for example, might well have signaled during 2013 that Irish authors Donal Ryan and Eimear McBride were about to go viral.

Whatever about the differences between the music and book industries, there’s no doubt that both share a need to do something with the data skyscrapers they’re building other than just stare in awe at them.