English musician Imogen Heap has teamed up with Aesop agency to create a data storytelling platform called 'The Life of the Song' (LOAS). She claims it will encourage more fair-trade music business by protecting copyright and ensuring artists receive direct payment.
“I am an artist, not an entertainer, and five record companies owe me money.” These words from Nina Simone reflect the unsettling realities of the music business and the need for greater transparency between the musician and the record producer, Heap claimed.
As a result, the project aims to counteract the murky music industry. LOAS is a detailed 'un-packing' of every facet of Heap's famous song 'Hide and Seek' since it was released in 2005.
It visualises how data is currently presented in the music industry and looks to build a better understanding within the music creator community of where money is lost and wrongly paid out.
LOAS illustrates the inner workings of the music industry through 'Hide and Seeks' contracts, biography and revenue data. It collects data from the songs total revenue earned to date and the source of those earnings, which is displayed via an interactive data visualisation.
Through this model, the project cross-references the income against key biographical dates and events and specific music industry contracts which places the song within its broader context.
Heap Hopes the project will contribute towards transparency in how music is distributed and monetised.
LOAS is part of Heap's research and development hub, Mycelia, which is designed to invite healthy tech innovation and good practice into the music industry ecosystem.
“I feel digitally torn apart,” said Heap, adding: “like I don’t have a digital home, a place, an identity that belongs to me, where my data can work 24/7 on my behalf and on my terms. In the data-driven era, the movement of music its metadata and money should be fair and frictionless.
"One day I hope for a music ecosystem that supports all music makers, however small or large their contribution and that the LOAS platform will be part of that transformation – resilient, flourishing, more beautiful, more tended for.”
Brian Cooper, executive creative director at Aesop said: “In a hyper-connected world our ability to capture and store data is staggering. As storytellers, our job is to discern meaning from this data and communicate the underlying narratives.”