Follow Kanye on Twitter? Universal Wants to Make Money Off That

A new initiative called the Global Music Data Alliance will allow record label to mine consumer data for increased revenue

Kanye West Credit: Kevin Mazur/Getty Images for (RED)

Every time a Kanye West fan buys an iTunes download, concert ticket or T-shirt, posts on his Facebook page, follows him on Twitter, views a YouTube video or streams a song on Spotify, all those clicks become valuable marketing data — meticulously documented by his record company, Universal Music. For years, the question in the entertainment business has been how to use all that data to sell more stuff and make more money. The answer may be in the Global Music Data Alliance, a newly announced partnership (via Ad Age) between Universal, the world's biggest record label, and Havas Media, the French branding company that works with companies like McDonald's and Coke and helped bring us retroactive music-video product placement.

What Universal and Havas will cooperate to do with all this data remains vague, although Lucian Grainge, chairman of the label home of West, Taylor Swift, Lady Gaga, Adele and others, said in a statement: "We want to continue to find new revenue and marketing opportunities for all of our artists by . . . supercharging our efforts to realize previously untapped revenues from consumer brands and other new business partners."

New-media companies from Next Big Sound to BigChampagne to Shazam have been racking up data on music-related sales and social media for years, often selling that information back to record labels to help them discover and market artists. The Global Music Data Alliance seems poised to go a step farther, using what a Havas executive calls "data scientists and algorithm experts" to expand branding.

The alliance, Havas chairman Yannick Bollore says in a statement, "will allow our clients and other brands to further expand their common passion for music with fans, and create deeper experiences for them." Bollore is the son of Vincent Bollore, chairman of Vivendi, which owns Universal, so the new alliance could point to the future of both companies.

"We will have so much data that we can leverage for the purpose of better understanding the consumer and creating better experiences,” Dominique Delport, Havas’ global managing director, told Ad Age. "There is so much to invent."