Iron Maiden Using BitTorrent Analytics to Plot Tours

Headbangers have been studying online piracy to see where they're most popular

Iron Maiden
Francesco Degasperi/AFP/Getty Images
Bruce Dickinson of Iron Maiden performs in Santiago.
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Update, 7:30 p.m.: Andrew Teacher, Musicmetric's head of PR, says that the CiteWorld story referenced below is "sadly not substantiated." Furthermore, Teacher said that CiteWorld had intended to write a follow-up article to one published in The Guardian, but that the tech article "misrepresents our position by stating that the success was down to use of analytics, which we simply never said nor implied."

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Rather than sue fans who illegally download Iron Maiden's music, the British heavy-metal group has begun playing concerts for them. Tech website CiteWorld reports that the headbangers have been consulting with a U.K. company called Musicmetric, which measures everything from social media chatter to how well a band performs on BitTorrent. Using data from the company, the group has begun booking tours that focus on areas where interest in Iron Maiden – whether legal or illegal – runs high.

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In recent years, the band has focused heavily on touring South America, following a surge in traffic on the continent. In addition to spotting a notable amount of BitTorrent traffic, particularly in Brazil, Musicmetric revealed that fans in South and Central America constitute a good portion of the group's Twitter followers. Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia and Chile each ranked among the top 10 countries with the most Maiden followers. So the group, still a top draw in the U.S. and Europe, toured the continent, where they filmed their Flight 666 concert film. The band's São Paolo concert alone grossed over $2.5 million.

The group's strategy has paid off online, too. Musicmetric reported that between May 2011 and May 2012, Iron Maiden welcomed over 3.1 million fans to its social media pages. More recently, on the group's Maiden England tour, which ran from June 2012 to this past October, the band attracted another five million online fans, with a notable bump in South America.

The band is now emphasizing touring and selling merchandise as revenue streams. "Maiden have been rather successful in turning free file-sharing into fee-paying fans," said Musicmetric CEO Gregory Mead. "If you engage with fans, there is a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers. You can see that through various bands using the BitTorrent network in a legal way to share content."

Musicmetric began running analytics on the band, according CiteWorld, after spotting the group's Iron Maiden LLP on a list of the 1,000 Companies to Inspire Britain on the London Stock Exchange Group's website. The band made their onto the list as one of only six music entities "that outperformed the music sector." Musicmetric reacted by compiling its first report for the band.