There’s an array of music companies out there with tools, data, and insights to support many of today’s emerging independent artists. Meet Chartmetric and Venice Music, two all-in-one platforms that are doing just that. Since 2015, Chartmetric has equipped artists and music industry professionals with comprehensive streaming, social media, and audience data to help musicians thrive in their careers, while Venice Music provides tools to distribute music, monitor streaming performance, and collect royalties.
Emlyn, an LA-based indie singer-songwriter originally from Nashville, is just one of the rising indie artists who has seen success using both platforms. Emlyn’s father was a studio drummer, while her mother worked as a therapist, so growing up she learned what it took to craft a song that connects emotionally with a listener. She also taught herself to play the piano and guitar, thanks to the help of Taylor Swift’s songbook.
Now, emlyn releases her own music, which is distributed by Venice Music. For the past six years, she has been represented by her manager Joshua Russak, whom she met after one of Russak’s other clients sent him emlyn’s demos.
"I thought she had such an incredible ear for melodies and storytelling," Russak told Chartmetric. "We really hit it off talking about music and the business and felt she had a great grasp of all the things it takes to succeed in today’s music environment."
Russak was drawn to emlyn by her lyrics and writing style, which he saw as conveying a sense of realness and approachability. He also discovered early on that she had a unique way of getting inside of the heads of other artists and helping others express what they’re feeling.
"Most people think artists just wake up and are some supernatural being that creates against all odds, when, in reality, artists are works-in-progress," Russak said. "It takes time for an identity to be clearly defined and I watched emlyn go through a lot of stages. What was clear from the beginning was that she was going to keep improving and I will bet on people like her all day."
For the first half of their time working together, she was focused more on songwriting, but the pandemic is when she really started to release some of her own music. "She was always interested in being an artist, but never had the right vehicle, time, or songs to launch it in the way that we would have wanted to," Russak told Chartmetric. "[During the pandemic,] there were a lot less songwriting sessions happening, so she ended up deciding to focus on herself and changed the trajectory of her career."
In January 2021, emlyn released new music and quickly started to gain momentum after she landed on some of the earlier feeder playlists on Spotify and Amazon Music. By May of the same year, emlyn found semi-viral success on TikTok with the release of her song "B.O.M.B.," with her post teasing the song since receiving over two million views. This is when Russak started to lean more on data to gain better insights to continue building on the momentum emlyn was already seeing early in her career.
@emlyn_music SHOULD I PUT IT OUTTTT 😭😭😭 #original #artist #viral #singing ♬ B.O.M.B OUT NOW - emlyn
Russak said they had to make many decisions like figuring out which song they should go with, whether it should be fast or slow, if they should be doing campaigns, how they should be moving in between songs, and determining which of emlyn’s posts are gaining traction.
According to Russak, "Sometimes certain posts on certain platforms will work for follows, but not for streams, or will work for streams, but not for Instagram follows, or certain viral TikTok pieces are great for profile views, but don’t filter through to anything else. Even though we’re in this age of algorithms, I think the audiences aren’t machines at the end of the day, but there are some general trend lines where you can find best practices." For him, that’s where Chartmetric comes in. "Everything I find on Chartmetric has helped me think about what our problems are a little differently," Russak shared. "We do a little bit of an analysis on where we are, what's working, and what isn't. Then we’re just—poking the bear—so to speak, to figure out how to get things to continue moving and growing. Sometimes there aren't answers, but it at least gives us the clues to figure out where to lean into and where we have problems. So, I really use [Chartmetric] as my home base. I open up [the dashboard] every morning. I use [the dashboard] at midnight to see every release, or check out early playlist pickup. From there, when I'm interested in even more granular data, I might kick off to more DSP-specific platforms, but this absolutely is my home base for everything."
emlyn has 485k followers on TikTok, 107k on Instagram, and 174k on Spotify, where she saw a 14.4% increase in the past year. Additionally, her YouTube channel has 26.4k subscribers and 13.5 million video views. There is a strategy to what content is posted where, according to Russak: shortform video platforms like TikTok and Instagram Reels are used to tease music and encourage user-generated content, while Instagram and Twitter posts are best for making more formal announcements and sharing milestones.
Michele Akinsanya, Director of Data and Streaming Analytics for Venice Music, said Chartmetric has been helpful in allowing them to see all of the playlist placements that their artists — like emlyn — land on release days.
"It’s in beta, but I love the artist insights that highlight growth spikes on social and streaming platforms," Akinsanya said. "This enables us to investigate and take action on moments in a quick and efficient way. The visualizers are also a really great way to quickly assess the magnitude of growth over time. I love the convenience of having both social and streaming data in one place."
"In the future, I would love to take more advantage of the integration with One Sheet, playlist evolution features, and the Artist Comparison Pro to help with the strategic side of things," Akinsanya added.
For Janice Wang, VP of Partner Acquisition and Success at Venice Music, the three key takeaways from emlyn’s career trajectory that other artists can learn from are to "invest time in nurturing connections with fans, execute on pre-release buildup and post-release promotion plans, and remain attentive to fan feedback with the flexibility to adapt and refine your release strategies." This is why artists can so greatly benefit from platforms like Venice Music and Chartmetric, which provide the data and support needed at every stage of one’s music journey.
As for emlyn, her album, that’s how you make a villain - chapter 1 came out this past November. Ahead of its release, emlyn wrote on Instagram that the decision to split the album into three parts came from a realization that "this story of who I am, and where I came from, is meant to be told as a trilogy." She will also be going on tour in the U.K. and Europe in February 2024.
Graphics by Nicki Camberg and cover image by Crasianne Tirado; data as of Jan. 11, 2023.
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