Sparkline is a new platform developed by technology consultancy company Decimal, who mainly work with music clients on development projects. Decimal pitches Sparkline as the “missing analytics tool for Spotify” – a bold claim hinging on its ability to allow users to get insight into third parties on the streaming platform.
The company identified that incumbents like Charmetric and Soundcharts weren’t tracking some of the data it considered important – for instance, play counts, or song performance trends. Sparkline was developed to focus on this, and other data.
Decimal’s Chris Garrett explains: “The idea behind Sparkline emerged from an A&R project we worked on a couple of years ago. It used playlists to highlight up-and-coming artists but we couldn’t find a tool that gave play counts for third-party artists. Over Christmas, we found a way to surface that and the idea there was to create something that was more simplistic than Chartmetric or Soundcharts.”
It’s a very straightforward but useful tool – once you’ve signed in with your Spotify account (free or premium), you can start following artists and look into their streaming data: play counts, monthly listeners, follower numbers and more. If you want to keep an eye on an artist the platform is not following yet, it might take a day to populate the data.
This slight lag is due to one of the differentiating factors between Sparkline and some of their competitors – they only track the artists that users request, keeping costs down and, Garrett claims, keeping the platform nimble: “We’re not pro-actively trying to analyse every artist, only the ones that users are following. That means we’re not spending on holding that massive amount of data. The user is covering the costs of following that artist, which is much more cost-effective and we are going to be able to move faster than other services.”
Once a user has followed the artists they’d like to monitor, they can click into the ‘Your Artists’ tab. There they will see a snapshot of the key data to monitor at a quick glance, sorted into the categories: plays, monthly listeners and followers. It’s presented as a series of current totals – total play count to date, the current amount of monthly listeners, total followers, and so on.
Next to each total figure is more granular and temporal data: how many fans or plays were added in the last day, week or month and the growth/ decline percentage. The depth of analysis depends on your subscription tier and the timeframe you choose. The advantage here is that teams don’t have to manually track this data and are always up to date with daily trends at a glance.
Here’s where the other use-case becomes clear: teams or users are able to look into other artists’ performance too by tracking their artist of choice. Clicking into an artist’s page breaks down the data in a similar way, allowing teams to track growth in plays, fans and followers over time, as well as spot-checking totals that are not so easy to find otherwise. According to Garrett this is uniquely helpful: “there’s definitely a use case – if you’re not a rightsholder and you don’t have access to Spotify for Artists or Spotify for Labels, it gives you a degree of insight into how plays are growing which you can’t get anywhere else at the moment.”
Below that top-line data, users are shown total plays, plus growth trends for individual songs – something that, usually, artists or teams themselves are only able to access within their Spotify for Artists account. Next to that, there’s a graph showing how much each track is contributing to an artist’s overall play count, visualising an artist’s biggest streaming drivers for quick analysis.
This tool is extremely new: it hasn’t been promoted yet, and the team are still working on fixing performance issues and ironing out a few final wrinkles. However, they’re already looking into adding further features: most interestingly the possibility of insights into monthly listeners by city and country, and how these grow over time – handy information for managers, labels, promoters, and marketers. It’s easy to see how this could be helpful: let’s say you’re following your own artist plus a few contemporaries with a similar sound – this feature could help you to spot in which cities these artists are seeing huge growth, and where your artist’s sound might resonate too. Another feature the company might add – albeit one that Garrett admits may be potentially controversial – is to show data on royalty payouts.
Sparkline aims to determine an estimate of royalties based on the stream count and monthly listeners, taking into account the different subscription pricing and streaming rates for different territories.
The free version of Sparkline is available now, allowing users to follow up to three artists. The free tier gives insights into their top 10 tracks and up to seven days of statistics. With the Pro account, which costs $19/month, you can follow up to 100 artists, see play counts for every track, and view up to 28 days of statistics. For larger companies keen to integrate the technology into tools that they might have built inhouse, Decimal offers an API version, with pricing starting at $79/month.
Garrett is focussed on the future and says that parent company Decimal intends to keep investing in the Sparkline so that it can sit alongside the other big streaming data analysis platforms: “We’re bringing a third player into the market, offering a modern user experience.”
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