Make your own kind of mu­sic

Sony Mu­sic’s new sur­vey splits the re­gion’s mu­sic fans into tightly de­fined cat­e­gories. Austyn Al­li­son sounds out the sub­sets

Campaign Middle East - - FRONT PAGE -

Sony Mu­sic’s Au­di­ence Seg­men­ta­tion sur­vey splits Mid­dle East lis­ten­ers into tightly de­fined cat­e­gories.

New re­search from Sony Mu­sic has di­vided the lo­cal pop­u­la­tions of the UAE, Saudi Ara­bia, Egypt and Le­banon ac­cord­ing to their mu­sic tastes and habits, as the record com­pany brings its Au­di­ence Seg­men­ta­tion sur­vey to the re­gion.

Ten years ago, Sony launched its re­search in the UK. Orig­i­nally it was used to help de­vise strate­gies to move artists from one con­sumer group to an­other. Mike Fair­burn, gen­eral man­ager of Sony Mu­sic En­ter­tain­ment Mid­dle East, gives an ex­am­ple: “Calvin Har­ris started in the UK as a live mu­sic artist. He had a brand, he pro­duced rocky elec­tro vo­cal mu­sic. He de­cided he wanted to be­come a pro­ducer and DJ and wanted to sit in that spot, so we needed to move him into a big DJ elec­tro space.” The sur­vey helped Sony or­ches­trate this shift.

The re­search had been in­tro­duced at the tail end of the mu­sic in­dus­try’s most volatile pe­riod, says Fair­burn. 1999 had been the most lu­cra­tive year in the his­tory of recorded mu­sic, in terms of record sales. But then came the dig­i­tal rev­o­lu­tion, iTunes, Nap­ster and piracy. 2005 was the least lu­cra­tive. Soon it be­came ap­par­ent that the re­search was use­ful to more than just the A&R teams.

“The record busi­ness had to find new ways of gen­er­at­ing rev­enue,” says Fair­burn. And one of the big things that Sony Mu­sic jumped on, and that was very suc­cess­ful early on, was work­ing with brands and work­ing with agen­cies, and work­ing on new ways for artists to make money.”

Now Sony has launched its re­search in the re­gion. “In the Mid­dle East there was no ac­cu­rate and in­sight­ful mu­sic data,” says Fair­burn. “So un­less a brand com­mis­sions a huge sur­vey they can’t re­ally test if what they are do­ing in mu­sic is ef­fec­tive.”

There’s a num­ber of ways that brand might want to do this with the sur­vey.

“What seg­men­ta­tion al­lows them to do, and al­lows us to do for a brand, is to help fil­ter against some­thing,” he says. “If a brand has an ex­ist­ing mu­sic strat­egy that they have been run­ning for years and years, this helps them do a

If a brand has an ex­ist­ing mu­sic strat­egy that they have been run­ning for years and years, this helps them do a lit­tle bit of a stop-and-check.

lit­tle bit of a stop-and-check. They can scratch the head, look at the data, think, ‘Am I do­ing the right things?’ Be­cause the seg­men­ta­tion we have is bro­ken into so many dif­fer­ent age sec­tors, so many sub-cat­e­gories, re­ally it’s rel­e­vant to any sort of ac­tiv­ity a brand is do­ing.”

The sur­vey has been con­ducted among al­most 25,000 na­tion­als of Le­banon, the UAE, Saudi Ara­bia and Egypt. Sony has split re­spon­dents into four broad groups, as it does all over the world – Fa­nat­ics, En­thu­si­asts, Ca­su­als and In­dif­fer­ents, de­pend­ing on their pas­sion for mu­sic – and then those cat­e­gories were sub­di­vided into about 25 cat­e­gories per coun­try. For ex­am­ple, Saudi Ara­bia’s fa­nat­ics in­clude the ‘KSA Cool­hunters,’ the ‘Smooth Sheikhers’, and ‘Rock the King­dom of Saudi’.

The sur­vey aligns life­style and de­mo­graph­ics with artists and gen­res. It is built on a data­base of about 2,500 artists – both lo­cal and in­ter­na­tional – and about the same num­ber of brands. In Egypt alone, Sony Mu­sic’s re­searchers fed in 800 lo­cal brands and 200 in­ter­na­tion­als. The sur­vey will be up­dated again in two years.

Apart from their catchy monikers, the sub-groups are fairly tightly de­fined by age, gen­der, em­ploy­ment and house­hold sta­tus. And their mu­sic tastes, of course.

Some of the dis­cov­er­ies are a lit­tle un­ex­pected, and Fair­burn gives an ex­am­ple of the ‘Pink Abayas’, a sub-cat­e­gory of Saudi En­thu­si­asts, as a group that fas­ci­nates him.

“We’ve done this seg­men­ta­tion be­cause we want to un­der­stand the mar­ket bet­ter,” he says. “We want to see just what trends are hap­pen­ing. We want to see what the Pink Abayas of Saudi Ara­bia – th­ese 25- to 34-year-old fe­males – are like, who make up 4 per cent of the pop­u­la­tion.”

He adds: “I’d love to meet one and talk about mu­sic, be­cause they are into shaabi. Shaabi is Egyp­tian an­gry street mu­sic. But they also love Khaleeji and they love dance. And they’ve got some in­ter­est­ing per­spec­tives on it. They say they know a lot about mu­sic; 45 per cent of them say they know a lot about mu­sic, and 82 per cent will give mu­sic a chance be­fore they judge it. But also they don’t take mu­sic too se­ri­ously; 80 per cent say mu­sic is im­por­tant, but it’s not the be-all and end-all. And that’s kind of cool.”

Sony Mu­sic will use the sur­vey it­self for po­si­tion­ing artists and other in­dus­try-spe­cific tasks. But it is also on a “March Mad­ness” push to get brands to buy in. Fair­burn says there is plenty they can gain from the sur­vey.

“Think about every­thing from a song in an ad through to an artist en­dorse­ment through to cre­at­ing mu­sic-based YouTube con­tent pieces to look­ing at maybe af­fil­i­a­tions with tal­ent shows to re­ally tour­ing and cre­at­ing be­spoke mu­sic events,” he says. “What gains do th­ese have? What in­sights do brands have to say that the con­sumer they mar­ket their prod­uct to is go­ing to like the mu­sic ac­tiv­i­ties that they are plan­ning? What is the test base that they have got, to fil­ter what they are do­ing and make sure it’s rel­e­vant and it’s go­ing to be ap­peal­ing?”

Sony Mu­sic be­lieves it has the an­swers.

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