Digital Music Doctor Digital Music Doctor
Pro Audio
Video Tutorials
For Musicians


Doc's Music Blog

Blogged by DigiMusicDoc as Kool Skool — DigiMusicDoc Fri 22 Feb 2013 3:31 pm


Software Popularity Index — Getting Social
Recently we did a major update to our Music Software Popularity Index in which we not only updated the quarterly data but also made some major changes to the structure of the index. In summary, the changes encompass factoring in the impact of Social Media as well as adding Virtual Instruments to the type of software included. This analysis has proved to be one of the most viewed features on our site. I thought this would be a good time to talk about the purpose of the index and the impact of these changes.
Music Software Popularity Index
Back in the Day
Back when the company was started in 2004, one of the main questions was which products to create courses for. Obviously, no matter how interesting a product is, if it is not selling well, there is not going to be a large market for training. However, while the best data would be sales of music software products, that data simply is not publicly available at the product level. So we had to take one step back and consider how people shop for music products. For music software the answer is clearly the internet. Moreover, data on estimated searches for particular products is available from both Google and Microsoft (Yahoo+Bing) and is a standard metric used by most internet advertisers. These three search engines represent over 95 percent of the search activity on the internet.
Search Engine Activity
One of the challenges of using this method is that you cannot just say, for example, “Give me all of the search activity related to Apple Logic.” You have to use specific search terms, which means you have to guess what terms people actually search for. Typically a variety of terms are actually used, as shown in this chart for Logic Pro. Sometimes the terms do not include the name of the product. One example shown here is FL Studio. Almost half of the people searching for FL Studio use the term “Fruity Loops”, even though the product name was officially changed years ago.
Apple Logic Searches FL Studio Searches
Obviously, we also have to have a good idea of what products to include, which we do mainly by keeping our ear to the ground in forums and staying up to date with trade press chatter. Although we focus on the top ten, about 20 products are routinely analyzed, as shown in this chart. Other products such as Cockos Reaper and Mackie Tracktion are also tracked. However, their volumes are significantly lower than those in this list as shown in this Google trend report.
Music Software Popularity Rank History
Internet 2.0 – Social Networks
During the past several years however, Social Networks such as Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube have fundamentally altered the way people engage with products. Our definition of engagement varies depending on the source, but the intent in this index is to gauge the interest to purchase a product–not simply liking or following.
Internet marketing using Facebook is very different. People “Like” products with a presence on Facebook for a variety of different reasons. Thus while the value of a Facebook Like is a lively subject of debate among marketing gurus, it is generally acknowledged that it does not signal an immediate intent to purchase as strong as a click-through on the results of a Google search. Although many companies have rushed head-on into building a Facebook presence, many others (including quite a few in our Popularity Survey) still do not spend a significant amount of their advertising budget promoting products on Facebook. Nonetheless, paid advertising on Facebook has evolved to the point that estimates of the number of users for a particular community are a readily available metric. It still takes some assumptions to get to the estimated number of ad click-throughs. The latest data published by Facebook claims that each user views 66.5 Facebook pages (impressions) per month. Another widely quoted study estimates that the click-through rate on ads is only .05 percent. So although the click-through rate is much lower than for search engines, the high number of impressions still results in a high monthly rate of clicks.
Music Software Popularity Internet Search & Social Engagement
Finding Common Ground for Social Engagement Measures
The business model for advertising on Twitter is entirely different. Tweets are more like emails, and thus the click-through rate is high, estimated by one study to be 2.8 percent per tweet. To get to a monthly click-through figure we also track the number of tweets per month. The wildcard here is re-tweets. Re-tweets are counted as tweets and are usually positive events about a product that someone else has tweeted, for example, “Check out this new video of me performing live using Maschine.” Thus to get a realistic engagement figure, it is necessary to reduce the tweets by an estimated number of re-tweets. Also Twitter does have a Promoted Tweets advertising program which works more like the click-through paradigm on the other sites. However, advertising campaigns are created by custom quotes only, so no statistics are publicly available.
YouTube presents its own set of estimating challenges. Content providers typically group videos into channels. Channels can be any type of grouping, but music software publishers normally set up a channel for their entire company rather than by product. The only statistics publicly available are the number of subscribers to a channel and the number of video views for that channel. Videos on YouTube (other than YouTube sponsored ads) cannot contain links that click through to an offsite web location. There can, however, be web links associated with each channel. The only additional statistics available, even to channel owners, are Likes and Comments. Thus traditional measures of click-through rates are not available. Some studies have made a case that the referrals from video views approximate the click-through rates for display ads. Thus in the popularity index we are using a click-through rate of .10 percent per video view.
Adding all of these major sources together gives us the following picture. As you can see the influence of Google and Facebook are clearly dominant as well as being about equal overall.
Music Software Popularity Internet Activity Sources
What Are They Really Looking For?
Even when the popularity index was limited only to searches we had to deal with the issue of people searching for companies when they were looking for products. For example, more people search for Cakewalk than they do for Sonar. Yet it would be unfair to allocate all of the searches for Cakewalk to Sonar, since Cakewalk also markets other software products. Thus we identify the other Cakewalk products that receive significant internet activity and allocate the searches for Cakewalk to each product based on the specific activity for the product. This problem is magnified with measures for social engagement. As I mentioned, all of the YouTube channels created by music software publishers are by company as are many of the Twitter feeds. For Facebook and Twitter some companies take a divided approach. For example, on Twitter Native Instruments uses @NI_Maschine for that product and @NI_ News for everything else. On Facebook Apple and Presonus only have official company pages, so we had to use Community Interest pages created by Facebook for GarageBand, Logic Pro, and Studio One. While allocated or indirect measures of social engagement are less reliable than direct references to music software titles, this is the only practical method of dealing with the problem. As you can see from this chart, indirect measures are a much larger factor for social activity than for search.
Music Software Popularity Direct-Indirect Title Reference
Going Virtual
The other major change to the index is the inclusion of Virtual Instruments. Previously the products in the index had been limited to Digital Audio Workstations and Digital Audio Editors. However, as the technology of these two product categories has matured, the trend is shifting more towards Virtual Instruments. That being said, in terms of the numbers there are only two with enough interest to show up on the radar. Both are from Native Instruments, Kontakt and Maschine. The number for Kontakt is still relatively small compared to the other products, but as you can see from the numbers above, Native Instruments really hit a home run with Maschine.
Native Instruments Maschine
There have been major changes to the structure of this index before, and we handle these by phasing them in over four quarters. So for this past quarter and the next three the rankings will be based on an annual moving average, rather than a single quarter. So while we still don’t know the actual sales of any particular product, we have a very good way to gauge the overall customer interest.


1 Comment »

  1. Comment by Rasman — March 3, 2013 at 9:59 pm

    Wow now this is the typ of information a person needs to find which music software s popular. Great Post glad you updated your index.

RSS feed for comments on this post. TrackBack URI

Leave a comment

Comment spam protected by SpamBam