Gabi is a Barcelona-born, globally-based engineer and music lover who works with us at BMAT Music Innovators. He recently developed the Royalties Calculator in his spare time like a big nerd.
What made you create this calculator? What’s the issue you’re trying to solve with this initiative?
For some time now I have felt increasing popular interest in the music industry, while in another era people would have just spoken about music only, or composers. There’s a growing awareness, I believe, that music today is much more than just bands recording and playing gigs. That there’s a whole background of financial structures, people and companies, that goes beyond what we see on the surface. And that interests me, to say the least. I’ve always been very nerdy about the music I listen to, and on top of just consuming songs, I’ve always enjoyed knowing more about them, the background, context, how they’re made, and all that.
“There’s a whole background of financial structures, people and companies, that goes beyond what we see on the surface.”
One night, at a party in London, I got talking to a musician about his band and the kind of things they did. It sparked a nosey thought — I wonder how much they make? I can’t have been the only one wondering these things, so naturally I decided to create this!
Do you think it’s important that artists have access to tools like this which show them how much they should be getting paid for their plays?
Absolutely. I think that there is a lot of unnecessary opacity in the industry that doesn’t contribute to adding caché to the bands or anything. I generally believe that industries should be transparent, especially arts and music industries, where money, value and compensation are integral to the artistic project and the creative process. With political bands for example, or also rappers, trappers, and so on.
I believe that this tool could help debunk some myths about the industry and put things into perspective for both fans who perhaps may not have thought about this before, or players of the industry themselves who are involved.
“I generally believe that industries should be transparent, especially those where money, value and compensation are integral to the artistic project and the creative process.”
Why did you decide to make it open access and public? Who do you want to be able to use this calculator?
I think that transparency and visibility are important in this particular context and always to be honest. They are key to a thriving music industry Also, from the very start, I wanted it public because I created it for fun, and I wanted other people to be able to have fun with it. I want this tool to be used by anyone, to get information, gain perspective but also just as entertainment! Hence the game addition too.
What’s the technology and/or data that powers this calculator?
At the core, I enhance Spotify data with processes that I’ve improved over time, and aim to keep perfecting. When I started the calculator it was rougher and didn’t generate as close approximations as the ones it does now. I’ve combined data in many different ways and over the course of a lot of trials, and having been lucky enough to know beforehand what various musician friends actually make, I slowly understood how to improve the system to offer the best possible prediction.
“Transparency and visibility are important in this particular context. They are key to a thriving music industry.”
I wouldn’t have been able to develop this tool without my experience at BMAT. Not only because of my experience here in coding and engineering but also about the inner workings of the music business and all the players involved. This has been crucial for the development of the calculator. BMAT has been a university of sorts for me!
BMAT has some very similar pipelines for the processing and enhancement of data as a core of many of our products. I also used technologies that I encounter on a daily basis in my job at BMAT, like Python APIs and non-relational databases.
“My experience coding and engineering on top of learning about the inner workings of the music business have been crucial for the development of this calculator.”
What do you think are the main challenges rising stars and independent artists face today in terms of streaming royalties?
A few weeks ago, I heard that the artist base on streaming platforms is growing at a yearly 30% rate, which is good news, but the listener base is growing at a 20% rate — meaning that on average, the market is getting smaller for the artists.
What I extract from this is that the new independent artist would need to find other revenue streams on top of digital streaming alone. There are some interesting approaches being explored at the moment such as user-centric streaming models — where your monthly subscription pays only the artists that you have listened to. Or implementing tipping options inside each platform.
Are you planning to extend this project?
Totally! I’ve already begun inserting some new elements to it, like the game which is some sort of trivia about the music industry, where you sometimes catch things that aren’t always what they seem. I’ve surprised myself when playing it.
There’s of course also the infinite process of improving data collection and approximation accuracy, which I love, and should always be looked at as a work in progress.
I’m thinking about creating a chart with the most looked up artists from the site too, or other site insights that come along over the next few weeks. I think it would be interesting to offer some cross-data results, like aggregating countries or genres and being able to contrast them.
I’ve also seriously considered adding the Radio and TV data from BMAT to give broader insights. I’ll keep everyone updated!
“I want this tool to be used by anyone, to get information, gain perspective but also just as entertainment!”