The music business has always been a business based on gut feeling, on individuals with specific competences and the right “feeling” for what is going to be popular or not. The different parts of the industry has used existing data and statistics like number of airplays on traditional radio, record sales figures and ticket sales to get an understanding of how popular a specific artist is and make decisions based on those numbers.

But, music usage is changing rapidly.

New generations of music fans are not buying any records, are not listening to radio in the same way as before but rather listening to diverse webradios and blogs online, downloading from filesharing networks and spreading the music through IM. It is getting increasingly harder to follow popularity of artists as the music is moving from traditional channels to hundreds of digital services.

I think there is a tremendous need for new understanding and knowledge about new forms of music usage online.

Things can happen very fast online and the popularity of a specific artist can increase rapidly if the snowball starts to roll. An important blog make a post, other blogs are linking to the original blogpost, MySpace plays starts to increase as do the YouTube video views and suddenly the album torrent is up on Pirate Bay. Songs are starting to get scrobbled on Last.FM as people downloads the mp3’s and recommendations of the artist starts to spread. Someone puts the song in the playlist of a Shoutcast web radio and in just a few days tens of thousands of people might have heard the music all over the world.

But, how do you know this? How do you follow such trends? How do you know which artists that are actually growing in popularity?

This is starting to become a big problem for many professionals in the music business, both on the live and recording side. Everything was so much simpler before, when you could plug the song to radio and follow the record sales go up as the number of airplays and posters increased. Or when you as a booker could follow the charts and make decisions based on that.

Today the audience has a totally different role as gatekeepers, and I believe these new channels are not being understood in a very good way by large parts of the music industry. I mean, how can you understand the driving forces and behaviours of filesharers if you are never filesharing yourself?

That’s why I and some friends of mine are putting up a new service during 2008. Hopefully this will become a tool for artists and music producers to follow some of the trends online. If you want to try it out, just give me an e-mail.