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How Gaga, Netflix and Late Night Comedy Keep their Fans Hooked

What does it take to succeed in the entertainment world? Charisma? Generally. Good Looks? Frequently. Talent? Not always, unfortunately. Big data? If you’re surprised to see the latest IT buzzword connected to an article about artists and comedians, then you’ll also be surprised to hear that data analytics is slowly taking over the entertainment industry. While artists and movie producers may be wary of turning over their creative process to a computer, some are actively using big data to hone their product to their customer and boost revenue just like a marketing department at a corporation.

Lady Gaga: Data Scientist

As one of the first artists to embrace Twitter, it makes sense that Gaga would be on the forefront of the big data revolution. Her manager, Troy Carter, took data from Twitter, Facebook, and ticket sells to create a micronetwork called Backplane. The network was designed as a place where brands can connect with their fans at a deeper level than on popular social media sites. The site for Gaga,, allows fans to discuss their passion for Gaga and her music, as well as share their experiences about bullying, which is one of the star’s causes. At the same time, Gaga’s team can share news about events and get feedback from fans. One way the brand has connected with her following is by taking the artwork fans put on the site and put it on the T-shirts sold at conferences. The move boosted sales by 30 percent.

Analyzing the Songwriting Process

If your favorite artist were to ask you what it is you like about a particular song or how a song could be improved, you’d probably struggle to give a specific answer. After all, most of us leave our judgment of a song to whether we like it or not. Since specific feedback is hard to come by, Wang Bolong, the lead singer of the band Bear Warrior, founded SoniDigg, a music data analysis company. The company uses a device to measure the intensity of the audience’s dancing to determine which parts of a song spark more energy in the crowd. Bolong found that the fans particularly enjoyed the songs when he sang higher notes or when the drums started, and he has incorporated that data into the songwriting process.

The Comedian that’s Always Funny

Comedian Aziz Ansari is testing his jokes not in comedy clubs, but in a series of mini shows to specific groups of fans. Tickets to the shows were handed out in a lottery and part of the process of signing up for the lottery is entering in your age, gender and relationship status. Ansari used this data to segment his fans into specific groups to see how they reacted to certain topics and jokes. For example, one night may be made up of half young, single people and the other half of older, married people. By gauging the reactions of specific groups, Ansari hopes to tailor his jokes so that all groups can appreciate them.

Transforming the Movie Industry

It’s no secret that the movie industry is changing rapidly. Most of us forget that we used to go down to the corner store to rent VHS tapes until we start reminiscing about the good old days. Now, DVD’s are slowly being replaced by online streaming as users can rent a movie to watch on their TV without leaving the living room. Movie streaming sites, such as Netflix, use data analytics to give recommendations to users— much like Amazon does on its website— to judge if content will be successful with viewers. The popular “House of Cards” was made because data analytics indicated it would be a success.

As the entertainment world becomes more familiar with big data and is forced to keep up with artists and producers that have already adopted it, we’ll likely see more big data cloud services springing up to help artists create and market their next big hit. How do you see big data transforming the entertainment industry?

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