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It’s old news that we’re just not buying music any more, music theft it’s a way if life with many young people never having bought an album since illegal downloading having become so easy. 70 percent of independent record shops have disappeared in the last decade in the UK alone, but what can music artists do to benefit from this trend?

Some bands are dealing with the issue in a unique way. A UK company called Growth Intelligence collects data on UK companies to offer them a real time snapshot of how their company is performing.

Its stats were compiled for the London Stock Exchange “1000 Companies That Inspire Britain” list. On that list were six music firms that outperformed the music sector, one of them being Iron Maiden LLP, the holding company for the heavy metal band. (Another company on the list was Shazam)

How did Iron Maiden do it?

Using a company like Musicmetric, which specialises in analytics for the music industry by capturing everything from social media discussion to traffic on the BitTorrent network. It then offers this information to artists to decide how they want to react.

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Credit: MusicMetric

“Having an accurate real time snapshop of key data streams is all about helping inform people’s decision making. If you know what drives engagement you can maximize the value of your fan base. Artists could say ‘we’re getting pirated here, let’s do something about it’, or ‘we’re popular here, let’s play a show’,” said Gregory Mead, CEO and co-founder of the London-based firm.

In the case of Iron Maiden, still a top-drawing band in the U.S. and Europe after thirty years, it noted a surge in traffic in South America. Also, it saw that Brazil, Venezuela, Mexico, Colombia, and Chile were among the top 10 countries with the most Iron Maiden Twitter followers. There was also a huge amount of BitTorrent (illegal downloading) traffic in South America, particularly in Brazil.

Rather than send in the lawyers, Maiden sent itself in. The band has focused extensively on South American tours in recent years, one of which was filmed for the documentary “Flight 666.” After all, fans can’t download a concert or t-shirts. The result was massive sellouts. The São Paolo show alone grossed £1.58 million (US$2.58 million) alone.

And in a positive cycle, Maiden’s online fanbase grew. According to Musicmetric, in the 12 months ending May 31, 2012, the band attracted more than 3.1 million social media fans. After its Maiden England world tour, which ran from June 2012 to October 2013, Maiden’s fan base grew by five million online fans, with a significant increase in popularity in South America.

What artists can learn from this is all about moving with the times, as these veterans showed. Find out where you have fans and go and perform for them. Concerts are now growing massively in popularity and by finding out where your illegal downloads are happening you know where your fans are.

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