James Cowdery – Innovation Manager, Universal Music UK
I joined Universal Music a few months ago, working in the Commercial Team on the first floor. It’s my job to help the company take advantage of the significant opportunities afforded by the web. This means building innovative digital products that are valuable to our artists and labels. I’d like to tell you about something massively exciting that we announced at Music Hack Day this weekend.
We’re creating a web page at umusic.co.uk for every one of our artists and each of their albums and singles. We’re calling it the Artist Gateway and we hope it will be the most comprehensive experience for fans searching online for our music.
Why are we doing this? Well, Universal Music is the source of lots of valuable artist information – track-lists, promotional photos, product codes and cover art. But in addition to the data generated by a large record company in its daily operation, there’s a mind-boggling wealth of great content on the web.
For example, each of our artists will have an official website. There will be merchandise and music available in the official store. Fans can watch music videos on VEVO and YouTube and listen to streamed music at Spotify, Deezer, Last.FM or Soundcloud. There’s Songkick for gig listings and, of course, many of our artists are on Twitter. Let’s not forget the brilliant editorial online – interviews and video sessions from trusted sources like the BBC and the Guardian. How can we help music fans make sense of all this information?
The Artist Gateway will aggregate this incredible content, presenting it in well formatted, easy-to-navigate web pages – one page for every artist and one page for every album. The pages will be smart and highly searchable – they’ll be coded with metadata so each page will be able to describe itself to search engines. Google loves this and it’s important; these artist pages are not a replacement for our official artists sites, but rather will drive traffic to those sites.
The pages will remain up-to-date - refreshing with the latest content every 24 hours. They’ll do this automatically, using computer scripts to gather information from our internal databases and the web.
We’re enjoying an incredibly fruitful time for music and the web. The potential to use web technologies to delight, inform and connect music fans is limited only by our imagination and the quality of the data we play with. The Artist Gateway launches early next year. We hope it initiates many wonderful journeys of music discovery, as fans watch, listen and learn about our artists and their music. Watch this space.