With streaming services popping up all over the place of late, it is a game that constantly has to change its tactics to stay afloat.

In recent times, IT giants Google, Twitter and Apple have joined the party and launched their own streaming services to compete with the likes of market leaders Deezer, Spotify, and Pandora.

The latter, which became available in Australia and New Zealand late last year, has cemented itself as one of the most popular streaming services in the world, last month accumulating over 200 million users worldwide. Now it seems they have turned to the artist, not the user, to enhance their service yet again.

As reported in Billboard, the team at Pandora have been developing a dashboard that would share streaming stats and data with the artist about how their songs are performing on the Internet radio service.

With this addition, when logged in to their account, an artist could view their “thumbs up” or “thumbs down” and spin counts for each of their uploaded songs, as well as details of their audience – including age, gender, and location.

This is sure to be a positive move in the eyes of the many musicians who have pushed for more data transparency in the past from streaming service platforms. According to Billboard, just last week Spotify started displaying total play counts for songs in a chart based system in reaction to this.

Spotify’s top competitor, Pandora have gone a step further in the move for this data transparency that has the potential to impact how artists market themselves.

By showing such information as a “heat map” displaying where people listen to which songs, the aim is to better inform the artist as to where their target audience lies. In this way, choosing where to tour, for example, would be easier when knowing where the fans actually are. If the “heat map” shows a lot of action on the west coast and little on the east, an artist would know where to perform and it would minimise the potential for empty bandrooms and subsequent profit losses.

It could essentially work as a strategic market research tool where the statistics could also help them target themselves to a particular age demographic based on who is and isn’t listening, and plug the tracks that aren’t getting as much love as others. Billboard has released a few mock-up images of the proposed data sharing platform, as seen below.

As this tool is still in its embryonic stages, artists on Pandora don’t as yet have access to these statistics. However one musician was lucky enough to be privy to it for the purposes of experimentation.

New York-based singer/songwriter, Ben Arthur could see some merit in making this data available to those whom it affects most. “I can imagine a time when I would upload tracks before they’re released to test which songs would be more popular, which songs to make videos for and which songs would get a label’s attention,” he told Billboard.  The team at Pandora have been developing a dashboard that would share streaming stats and data with the artist about how their songs are performing on the Internet radio service.

On the other hand, he couldn’t see a lot of scope outside of finding these details “fascinating”. Hence the reason why this is still merely an idea, according to Chief Strategy Officer, Tim Westergren. Labelling it “the raw material for developing a potential product,”Westergren was tight-lipped about the potential to fully develop the new statistics dashboard.

These ideas, aimed at helping the artist, are perhaps in response to the criticism Pandora received after controversially suing ASCAP (the American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers) last year in a bid to lower the royalties it pays artists to use their music on the service.

Artists didn’t take kindly to this and hit back with an open letter to Pandora opposing their new bill. Nearly 125 musicians, including everyone from KISS, The Doors, Guns N Roses/Velvet Revolver bassist Duff McKagan to Billy Joel, Rihanna and Missy Elliott – put their name to the letter, titled “A Musician’s Perspective on Pandora”, opposing the platform’s new bill – called the Internet Radio Fairness Act – claiming it would cut royalties by as much as 85%.

David Israelite, president and CEO of the American music publishing trade association NMPA, condemned Pandora’s actions at the time, stating “to file this suit at the same time that Pandora’s founders are pocketing millions for themselves adds insult to injury.”

Regardless of any royalty rate dispute, there is no doubting Pandora’s popularity and subsequent necessity in the music industry. Last month, reports from industry groups confirmed that streaming music is as popular as radio for young listeners in the USA.

Pandora is the clear leader in the 13-35 year old bracket, making up 39% of music streaming usage, trouncing second place service iHeartRadio which claims just 11%. Despite its perception as a market leader with 6 million paying subscribers, Spotify accounted for just 9% of listening in third place.

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