Grooveshark Launches Beluga to Help Artists Understand their Listeners

Grooveshark, one of the best free streaming music sites on the web, has launched a new service called Beluga, which “allows anyone in the world to easily view extensive data about an artist and their fanbase.”  The service is meant to give artists the ability to better understand who, how and when people are playing their music.  It’s an impressive service that makes Grooveshark very attractive to artists, and is possibly a defensive move in case artists come down hard on the site for holding so many licensed tracks.

So what does Beluga do?  Essentially it equips a musical artist with the power of analytics.  An artist can know take a look at which users are playing their music, and how often.  This kind of real time feedback on created art is an essential part of today’s feedback loop, and can help artists determine which of their songs is resonating most so they can put their best foot forward if they are planning major commercial initiatives.  The service provides valuable location and demographic information which can certainly help an artist plan a tour or live show, as well.

Privacy guardians out there may wonder how Grooveshark obtains the demographic information available on Beluga, and fortunately Grooveshark is addressing this directly on their Beluga FAQ.  The answer they give is:

Users provide anonymous data about themselves, such as their gender or answers to surveys that they opt-in to answer for points. We take proactive steps to anonymize this data so it can never be traced back to the user.

This is a pretty standard practice for enabling companies to earn money off of demographic data without sacrificing anyone’s specific personal data, but there are certainly users who don’t want to be included in this kind of survey at all.  Fortunately, you can decline to do the surveys that Grooveshark is talking about and your demographic information will not be summarized here.

An example of the Beluga dashboard is given below, where we can see a whole raft of interesting information, including the strongest and weakest demographic as well as the countries that love the band.

The various tabs across the top of the screen probably provide the most interesting source of data.  For instance, the “Music habits” tab looks at the listeners’ other music habits.  I was able to discover that most people who listen to Phoenix responded that as soon as they hear a new band they like, they check out that band’s MySpace.  An interesting tidbit that can help Phoenix improve their MySpace page or even help the label beef up their MS presence.

Interesting stuff, so check out Beluga here.