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Artist Case Study: CARR


Press image from CARR's website

CARR Artist Case Study Executive Summary

Carly McClellan, performing under the stage name CARR, is a Los Angeles-based alternative pop artist. She has been named one of Alt Press’ Artists To Watch in 2023, and her songs have been played on KCRW and Jack Saudner’s BBC Radio 1 show. Ones To Watch has praised her “indisputable talent” and “brutally honest” lyricism. CARR is currently signed to DCD2 Records, which is a label created by Fall Out Boy’s Pete Wentz and Panic! At the Disco’s Spencer Smith. On Spotify, she has around 64,500 monthly listeners and 11,000 followers.


On June 6th, CARR teased an upcoming album on her Instagram, writing, “Back in LA- time to finish an album 🫡🫡🫡🫡🫡🫡”. Since CARR is a smaller artist at the beginning of her career, the size of her audience is crucial to a successful album rollout. As a result, the goal of this case study is examine CARR’s current and historic audience data as well as her previous album performance and then compare that data to similar artists in order to find strategies to increase CARR’s audience size and plan a successful album rollout. In doing so, we hope to answer the question: how can we increase CARR’s audience size on all of her social media and reach her peak listenership in the next year to improve the success of her upcoming album?

Methodology & Data

To build our case study, we first examined CARR’s current and historic audience data on Chartmetric. Once we had collected that, we looked at data from CARR’s previous album, TV Boyfriends, to create a benchmark of how the new album should perform. Then, we compared that data to the same data from similar artists. In doing so, we noticed that all three artists have had a previous peak in monthly listenership. To quickly find the date each artist saw that peak and create comparison charts from the data, we used the following SQL queries: =QUERY(CARR!A:J, "Select A,B ORDER BY B DESC”), =QUERY(TheBLSSM!A:J, "Select A,B ORDER BY B DESC”), and =QUERY(JennaDoe!A:J, "Select A,B ORDER BY B DESC”). Using the knowledge gathered from all of these sources, we set objectives for audience growth and album success and then developed an action plan for how to meet those objectives.


While the available data has allowed us to set a baseline strategy, we cannot truly make reasonable predictions for certain objectives without access to internal data. For example, we do not yet have access to an album release date meaning CARR may need more or less than a year to reach the desired audience increase. In those cases, we have researched industry standards for placeholder data and noted it accordingly. If CARR’s team were to implement our strategy, the placeholder data should be replaced with accurate internal data and adjusted as necessary. Additionally, it should be acknowledged that Chartmetric’s data can be unreliable. In an earlier piece of this case study, we ran into an issue where CARR’s YouTube channel on Chartmetric was incorrectly linked to Carrie Underwood’s YouTube channel. We have corrected this, but other inaccurate data by Chartmetric that we have not caught could result in incorrect assumptions by the plan’s author.



Contextualizing Performance with Benchmarks

Current Audience

CARR currently has around 64,500 monthly listeners on Spotify and 11,000 followers. According to Chartmetric’s calculations, she is ranked 136,677th overall, but 655th in Indie Pop (her highest category). These numbers have changed dramatically in just the period that the author has been developing this case study. At the end of April 2023, her overall rank was just under 20,000th. Chartmetric lists her career stage as “Developing”, her recent momentum as “Growth”, and her social media impact as “Neutral”.


CARR’s Chartmetric Artists Rankings
Figure 1: CARR’s Chartmetric Artists Rankings. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

CARR’s Chartmetric Career Stage, Momentum, and Social Media Scores
Figure 2: CARR’s Chartmetric Career Stage, Momentum, and Social Media Scores. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

Recent Notable Changes to CARR’s Chartmetric Data
Figure 3: Recent Notable Changes to CARR’s Chartmetric Data. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

As noted by Chartmetric’s Artist Rankings, CARR’s social media performance is relatively unsuccessful. CARR has approximately four thousand more followers on Spotify than any social media platform. CARR’s strongest platform is Instagram with 6,900 followers, followed closely by TikTok at 6,100. On TikTok, her top song is “Bed Head” which only has 40 posts using the sound.


CARR’s Fanbase Size by Platform
Figure 4: CARR’s Fanbase Size by Platform. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

CARR’s TikTok Sounds and Video Usage
Figure 5: CARR’s TikTok Sounds and Video Usage. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

Comparison to Past Audience

As previously noted, while these are CARR’s current statistics, they are not her best. When looking at the data from her total monthly listeners on Spotify, we can see that—after hitting a peak of 164,522 monthly listeners on June 25, 2022—her listenership has been on a decline. As this was roughly a month after TV Boyfriends was released, we can infer that promotion for both the album and CARR decreased around this point.


CARR’s Monthly Listeners On Spotify
Figure 6: CARR’s Monthly Listeners On Spotify. (self-created chart using Chartmetric data, June 2023)

Data From Last Album

On May 27, 2022 CARR released TV Boyfriends on Pack Records. The album has seven tracks and, according to Chartmetric, currently has a Spotify Popularity of 29 out of 100. As mentioned previously, while the release of TV Boyfriends saw initial growth in listenership for CARR, that growth was not sustained. The album saw a major drop off in popularity on both Spotify and Apple Music, likely due in part to low traction on editorial playlist and TikTok. Additionally, despite having songs included in 577 total user playlists, the reach of these playlists is stagnant. Press was also limited and the album was initially released in the incorrect track order. CARR left Pack Records and signed with DCD2 Records in September 2022.


“TV Boyfriends” Spotify Popularity Index
Figure 10: “TV Boyfriends” Spotify Popularity Index. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

“TV Boyfriends” Apple Music Playlist Evolution
Figure 11: “TV Boyfriends” Apple Music Playlist Evolution. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

“TV Boyfriends” Spotify Playlist Evolution
Figure 12: “TV Boyfriends” Spotify Playlist Evolution. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

“TV Boyfriends” Spotify Editorial Chart Features
Figure 13: “TV Boyfriends” Spotify Editorial Chart Features. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

Comparison to Other Artists

To compare CARR’s performance to other artists, we chose The BLSSM and Jenna Doe, two female artists with similar music who are listed in CARR’s “Fans Also Like” section. When looking at the data, we can see that CARR has a roughly comparable number of followers on Spotify despite having a significantly smaller fanbase overall on social media. To better compare, we have broken down each artist’s current audience data, historic audience data, and previous album rollout data.


Artist Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe
Figure 7: Artist Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

Artist Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe
Figure 8: Artist Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe. (Chartmetric, June 2023)

Fanbase Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe
Figure 9: Fanbase Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe. (self-created chart using Chartmetric data, June 2023)

Spotify Monthly Listener Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe
Figure 10: Spotify Monthly Listener Comparison of CARR, The BLSSM, and Jenna Doe. (self-created chart using Chartmetric data, June 2023)

The BLSSM
Current Audience

The BLSSM currently has around 52,600 monthly listeners on Spotify and 17,100 followers. According to Chartmetric’s calculations, she is ranked 131,374th overall, but 636th in Indie Pop (her highest category). Chartmetric lists her career stage as “Developing”, her recent momentum as “Growth”, and her social media impact as “Established”.


The BLSSM’s social media distribution is heavily skewed towards Instagram where she has 21,700 followers. Her next highest platform is TikTok with 5,100. On TikTok, her top song is “HARDCORE HAPPY” which has 133 posts using the sound.

Comparison to Past Audience

Like CARR, while these are The BLSSM’s current statistics, they are not her best. When looking at the data from her total monthly listeners on Spotify, we can see she hit her peak of 423,764 monthly listeners on March 20, 2021. Since then, her listenership has seen several other peaks but has been on an overall decline. This peak happened shortly after the release of “HARDCORE HAPPY.” As this is also her highest performing song on TikTok, we can likely infer that the boost in listenership was due to the single’s success.


Spotify Monthly Listeners For The BLSSM Over time
Figure 11: Spotify Monthly Listeners For The BLSSM Over Time. (self-created chart using Chartmetric data, June 2023)

Data From Last Album

On April 29, 2022 The BLSSM released PURE ENERGY EP on Fueled By Ramen. The album has five tracks and, according to Chartmetric, currently has a Spotify Popularity of 21 out of 100. The album has seen fairly consistent numbers for both playlist inclusion count and playlist reach. However, like CARR, the only Spotify editorial playlist the album was included on was a writer playlist, “Written By Nick Long”.


Jenna Doe
Current Audience

Jenna Doe currently has around 447,000 monthly listeners on Spotify and 18,600 followers. According to Chartmetric’s calculations, she is ranked 25,667th overall, but 2,852 in Alternative (her highest category). Chartmetric lists her career stage as “Developing”, her recent momentum as “Steady”, and her social media impact as “Emerging”.


On social media, Jenna Doe’s performance is mixed. Her strongest platform is TikTok with 121,500 followers. This is the strongest social media platform of any of the artists. However, none of her other platforms come close to this amount, with her next strongest being Instagram at 7,100. On TikTok, her top song is “Pink Slips” which only has 100 posts using the sound despite her large number of followers on the platform.

Comparison to Past Audience

Like both CARR and The BLSSM, Jenna Doe’s current monthly listenership on Spotify is not her strongest. Doe hit a peak of 961,964 monthly listeners on November 11, 2022. This peak came after the release of her cover of “All I Want For Christmas Is You.” While this peak was sustained for the holiday period, it dropped off shortly after. However, unlike CARR and The BLSSM, Doe’s monthly listenership has begun to grow again after that earlier peak.


Spotify Monthly Listeners For jenna doe Over time
Figure 12: Spotify Monthly Listeners For Jenna Doe Over Time. (self-created chart using Chartmetric data, June 2023)

Data From Last Album

On August 15, 2022 Jenna Doe self-released Shock Wave. The album has five tracks and, according to Chartmetric, currently has a Spotify Popularity of 28 out of 100. Of the three artists, Jenna Doe is the only one whose playlist inclusion count has dramatically increased. Despite this, her playlist reach is fairly stagnant. Doe is also the only one of the three artists whose music is featured on Spotify editorial playlists. Doe is included in seven separate editorial playlists: Pop Rock, pov, Fierce Femmes, Alt. Pop., Dope AF, ok whatevs, and dear diary.

Online Performance: Strengths and Weaknesses

CARR’s biggest strength is also one of her biggest weaknesses: her amount of followers on Spotify. Unlike both The BLSSM and Jenna Doe, CARR has more followers on Spotify than on any social media platform. While this means that CARR is seeing more success in attracting followers on Spotify than comparable but larger artists, it also means that CARR is not adequately converting those Spotify followers into followers on social media. Thus, we can deduce that CARR’s social media is not performing well with her audience. This is unsurprising as her social media is fairly inactive. At the time of writing, CARR’s last Instagram post was two weeks ago and she currently does not have any live Instagram stories. By comparison, both The BLSSM and Jenna Doe have posted on Instagram in the last week, and Jenna Doe also has several Instagram stories available. CARR has posted more recently to TikTok, but only has sixteen total videos on the site. Jenna Doe, the top TikTok performer of the three, has over 112 videos.


Unfortunately, CARR’s poor social media performance is hurting the potential audience size she should be able to achieve. Because artists are increasingly required to make money from sources other than streaming, she is also likely not achieving her true revenue potential. Both of these factors inevitably impacted the marketing for her previous album in the months after its release. In the next section, we will illustrate some ways that CARR could rectify this problem.


Proposal for Future Business Strategy

Before the upcoming album, CARR will need to increase her audience size, particularly on social media. Doing so will allow her album rollout to reach a wider audience and generate a better Return on Investment (ROI) for the album. After studying the collected data, we have created the following four broad objectives:

  • Audience: Capture Spotify followers who are not following her on social media to increase followers on both Instagram and TikTok to 11,000

  • Listenership: Increase monthly listeners to more than her peak of 164,522 and increase followers to 20,000 to be closer to similar artists

  • ROI: Make more than 2x the budget for the album so that the label can make its money back and still have enough to record a future album with extra profit for both CARR and the label

  • Playlist Reach: Be placed on seven editorial playlists to achieve a playlist reach of around 1,370,000 listeners

To achieve the aforementioned objectives, we have created the following action plan. We have broken these tasks down into pre-release and post-release to try to avoid the decline we saw with the last album. We have also highlighted each task to demonstrate which objective it helps to accomplish (Audience, Listenership, ROI, Playlist Reach).

Pre-Release:

  • Document the creative process and share teasers on social media

  • Post a photograph to Instagram feed weekly

  • Keep Instagram stories active constantly

  • Post to TikTok daily

  • Post TikToks on both Instagram Reels and YouTube Shorts

  • Create a press release and reach out to at least 100 music blogs

  • Create a Spotify pre-save and share it with fans

  • Create a Spotify playlist and add music once released

  • Create limited edition merch and vinyls

  • Pitch music to Spotify

Post-Release:

  • Use a service like Pearpop to pay influencers to make TikToks with songs

  • Create a TikTok dance or trend for each single from the album and encourage fans to make videos

  • Post daily to TikTok, Instagram Reels, and YouTube Shorts using singles from the album

  • Post a photograph to Instagram feed weekly

  • Keep Instagram stories active constantly

  • Post supporting visual content on social media like music and lyric videos

  • Do interviews with at least one-third of the blogs reached (and give more in-depth answers in them—see Guitar Girl)

  • Host a release party for fans

  • Create a fan club with a more in-depth behind the scenes look at the creative process and exclusive merch

  • Host a release party for press and curators

  • Pitch to curators


Most importantly, CARR’s team should track and audit their data as they go to determine which strategies are working and which are not and then adjust accordingly. We recommend having both a first-week audit and a first-month audit. Doing so will hopefully prevent the previous drop we saw after the one-month mark.



References


Notes

  • This article was initially written as an assignment for the Berklee College of Music graduate class "Data Analytics in the Music Business."



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