Music Detour employs big data to promote unsigned bands

Sociology assistant professor David Arditi browses the Music Detour website, a non-profit music archive that employs big data for predictive analytics. Arditi founded Music Detour in winter 2016 and it includes 19 artists, three of which are UTA alumni.

Musicians in the Metroplex attempting to circumnavigate the road to fame may find relief in Music Detour: DFW Music Archive, a nonprofit website for artists hosted by UTA.

Sociology assistant professor David Arditi founded Music Detour and has managed the program since its creation in winter 2016, he said.

For many unsigned musicians, climbing up the ladder of the industry can be a daunting task fraught with weekends spent playing sparsely populated dive bars. While performing for empty rooms is to be expected as a budding musician, there are steps to improve the knowledge and exposure of the artists, Arditi said.

His mission is to archive the works of local groups while building a sense of community and using big data to help predict prudent business choices for budding musicians.

There are many factors relevant to local bands having difficulty drawing a crowd, and cultivating their sphere of influence can often be expensive, Arditi said.

Big data refers to large and complex collections of information typically  too big for traditional software to process, according to the MIT Technology Review. Companies often use these sets of data for predictive analytics.

Acquiring these services for unsigned artists is often impeded by the cost. Many companies that employ predictive analytics on big data require ample compensation, Arditi said.

Arditi accepts works from musicians across the Metroplex and offers similar services free of charge, he said.

“So, the idea that we’re trying to do with Music Detour is, instead of holding onto that information and selling it, making it available to anyone that’s using our website,” Arditi said. “So, it’s open source, open data.”

Through his research, Arditi and his team are able to identify bands’ needs according to the trends that are observed by their audiences, he said. If the audience of a particular group has commonalities with another artist’s audience, they can consider touring together to share potential fans.

Additionally, observing the online behavior of your audience can help to streamline the process of obtaining sponsors, he said.

“If you know that the fans of your band are Monster Energy drinkers, then you can go to Monster Energy and say, ‘Look, I have this data. Sponsor my tour,’” Arditi said.

The archive is a great method of tracking cultural growth and building community through the promotion of local music, sociology graduate student Cole Baggett said.

Baggett works for Music Detour, documenting venues and communicating to artists the resources that they have available through the archive, he said.

Part of Baggett’s job requires visiting venues from the Metroplex and taking in-depth notes on the size of the crowds that artists are headlining and the stage setup.

Much of his time working for the archive is spent behind a computer, entering and editing data entries concerning the groups that agree to submit their material, he said.

“They are usually pretty gung ho about it whenever they understand that they keep the rights to the music and it’s just a service to promote growth of local musicians such as themselves,” Baggett said.


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