If you have a service that gets 20 million unique users a month, and you have personal information on those users, what could you do with it? For the staffers at music streaming site, Grooveshark, the answer was to build a free tool that shows the demographics, culture and lifestyles, habits, and product preferences of those users that listen to particular artist. This morning, Grooveshark launched a data analytics resource called Beluga. This resource allows you to type in the name of a musical artist and find out information about the fans that listen to their music. The press release that Grooveshark wrote this morning says that the information is designed to help artist better position themselves to their fanbase (it could also be related to the fact that all four major record labels are suing Grooveshark… but, we’ll stick to what Beluga does for this post.)

Grooveshark’s co-founder, Josh Greenberg believes that by exposing these analytics, artists can “learn about their fans, route their tours, sell merchandise, work on building a following, and take their careers to the next level.” He thinks there is also value from the sales and marketing aspects of the record label as well since they can position themselves “to partner with artists who connect with their target audience, presenting endless opportunities.”

If you’ve used Grooveshark in the past, you know that from time to time they ask you to fill out a quick survey. It seems that we are seeing the first of the results of those surveys, and it makes for some interesting information when looking at musical groups. Here’s a sample of results I got when I searched on Eric Clapton:

  • 55+year old females are moderately over-represented (and yes, they look Wonderful Tonight)…
  • Fans of Clapton seemed to have retired in the past year (remembering Days of Old)…
  • Israelis seem to love themselves some slow-hand
  • Clapton users seem to show some Old Love and rent their movies from Blockbuster online…
  • Poor people don’t really like to listen to Clapton (no Hard Times for Clapton fans)…
  • Clapton listeners tend to bank at Citibank (cause, Nobody Knows You When You’re Down and Out)…
  • Apparently, Clapton sounds best when you’re driving and Traveling Alone.
What is the accuracy of these survey results?? I’m not sure. I guess the case could be made for not giving too much faith in the results you get from a voluntary web survey. However, I did look at the survey results for some smaller named bands that I like, and the surveys seemed to fall about where I’d expect for these bands, although the geography preferences tended to trend outside the US (maybe because Americans are less likely to fill out the survey??) 
Regardless of whether or not you trust the results, if you love to see examples of what can be done with large amounts of data, then you’ll find yourself having some fun looking at Beluga
  • Thanks for the beta on this new tool. Does this mean Grooveshark will get to defend invasion of privacy lawsuits along with the 3 copyright infringement lawsuits it currently is defending? Maybe I'm just overly cynical. I like Grooveshark a lot, but I'm not sure it's going to make it.

  • I am also a fan of Grooveshark, but like you, tend to think that it is a "too good to be true" product and that the music industry will eventually get it shut down.

  • This has been my fear for Grooveshark since I started using it. The music industry will surely find a put Grooveshark in its place. Meanwhile, I'll enjoy my share of independent music.

  • I think that Grooveshark damaged itself when it "encouraged" its employees to upload as much music as they could find, and gave awards to those that uploaded the most (without actually clearing anything through the music companies.) I think that Grooveshark is desperately trying to give something of value back to the industry, but unless it comes in the form of big royalty checks, it isn't going to save them.

    That said, I do like the major amount of independent music that makes its way onto Grooveshark. I've found that combining this with the BandsInTown app (to find the names of small or no-label bands) is a great combination. Although, most of the small and no-label bands are using a combo of Facebook and YouTube (some still use MySpace) to push out their music.
    I've found so many great bands that would never get played on the radio (Katy Perry, Rihanna and one flavor of the month, like this month's "Goyte," take up 30 of the 35 minutes of music an hour.)
    It's a great time to be a fan of music. Whether it is a great time to make a living off of music… well, that's another issue altogether.