Westcott is a platform that automatically advertises catalogue music: it generates Facebook and Instagram ads, identifies audiences, tracks industry signals, figures out best market pricing, makes ad buys, and provides real-time reporting. These advertisements are based on organic events taking place (e.g. holidays, playlist additions, viral videos) and increased fan activity.
Kristin Grant, who previously oversaw global playlist strategies at UMG, founded Westcott in 2017. She felt compelled to create a tool like Westcott when she saw that “across all labels, big and small, the volume of data available in the marketplace was too high for any individual marketer to process manually, and to make informed marketing decisions not only across priority and new releases but across the whole catalogue. In fact, most marketing agencies rely on you to tell them what artists to market and how much you want to spend.”
After a series of roster analysis reports including looking at labels stream data, revenues and expense information, Grant was able to see when labels were spending marketing dollars that weren’t aligned with when people were spending attention online.
She eventually modeled out what the impact on a label’s revenue streams would be, if they funneled spend into a release when there was increased online awareness and saw a massive impact on their bottom line.
This helped shape how her new platform – a prototype of which launched in January 2020 – would work: “Westcott automatically spins up an ad for the artist in your catalogue before you even realise you need to launch a campaign for that artist in the first place.”
How it works
The full version of Westcott launched in January 2021, and when a label comes on board, it provides Westcott with the amount of marketing dollars that can be spent across the catalogue releases (i.e. music released at least 18 months ago) of any artist on their roster.
When first trialling the platform, labels will typically commit to a similar amount of spend for six months, while they can be flexible with their budgeting afterwards. Westcott charges between 15-20% of the advertising budget spent via its service.
While much of what Westcott does is automated, there is strong top-level control: a label can toggle ads on or off for specific artists, or leave them on for their entire roster.
Westcott continuously identifies and monitors industry signals – social media data, streaming data, merch sales, ticket sales, Shazam data – and if the platform identifies a spike in attention or increased awareness around an artist or release, it will automatically launch an ad campaign to capitalise on this moment. Each campaign will target the audience that was paying attention, as well as similar audiences.
While a label has the option of uploading images for each artist, it doesn’t necessarily need to do so, as Westcott will automatically pull in album artwork and artist images prior to a label signing on. These images are automatically combined with ad copy created by Westcott’s in-house copywriters.
The ad copy is always contextual – looking at the artist name, genre and event type – and based on why the platform is spending at the moment. To give you an example, if it’s Christmas and there’s a spike in attention around a song, the ad copy will include the word ‘Christmas’. Grant says this “contextualises the ad which drives conversions.”
Again, control is possible: labels can specify their copy too, and they can simply turn the automatically-ingested images and ad copy on or off, so that they’re always overseeing the artist’s brand.
Automated context and responsiveness
Westcott has data analysis partnerships with platforms like music analytics firm Chartmetric and catalogue management software OpenPlay. Through Chartmetric, for example, Westcott ingests information that helps to inform when to launch ads, as well as which marketing actions caused that organic lift in the first place.
The platform decides when to spend, how much to spend, how long to run the ads for, which audience to target and also what to market. According to Grant, “this is all situation-based on which ads we’ve launched in the past for the artist, etc. When it comes to how much we spend and when we spend, this will look different for a developing artist or a non-priority artist than it would for the top performing artist in the labels.”
It’s also based on the context of the artist themself, and the signals Westcott tracks is a mixture of public data and private data. The system looks at a few parameters: the artist’s current performance, how many monthly listeners they have, their social following, who the followers are, average streams per day, and the artist’s genre. Grant says that their technology “looks at current performance and we will spend accordingly – and identify when to spend based on what stage they’re at.”
Westcott monitors for signals that show something exciting is happening around an artist or band, and then automatically triggers campaigns. It’s the company’s job to optimise the labels budget across artists in their roster, with the goal of increasing the average revenue per artist, per track, across their whole roster.
Measuring success and notifying users
To identify the impact of their campaigns, the platform will look at where an artist has been before and after a campaign, identifying uplift across multiple metrics, including merch sales, playlist additions, streams, followers, and more. Labels can see these results in a performance dashboard.
Via this backend, clients can switch between campaigns and performance across the whole label or drill into individual artists’ data. They can see performance over time, comparing how much a label or artist has generated in streams vs. how much was spent.
Two types of notifications can be sent to users. The first are recommendations, generated for artists for whom ads are turned off: “Cyzon saw 45% spike in streaming from his newest album “I Used To Know Her” in Brooklyn, NY from females ages 25-34. We recommend spending $1,500 on Facebook ads driving streams to her back catalogue on Spotify.”
These notifications mean that labels can quickly capitalise on this momentum and switch ads on.
The second type of notification is for campaign activity around artists who have ads turned on, providing insights on why a campaign was launched, and the outcome of it.
Looking ahead, Grant is looking at expanding the number of signals that they’re ingesting into the system, allowing more ways to trigger ads, as well as identifying the marketing actions that have impact. She explains that “it’s really important for the label to understand the holistic story of not only being able to react in real-time but also understand why these things happen.”
Who can use Westcott?
Fundamentally, the platform is accessible to all sorts of labels and Grant specifically mentions how niche labels can benefit from Westcott: “Genres like afropop or jazz, depending on the market, have audiences with more identifiable characteristics, versus popular artists whose audiences can be more widespread – so it’s actually a benefit when launching hyper-targeted campaigns.”
Westcott is already working with the likes of eOne, Six Shooter Records, and Nettwerk and Grant says the team is keen to get labels onto their waiting list for their next wave of subscriber onboarding – you can sign up for the waiting list via this link.