News November 9, 2017

Inside ingenious Melbourne-made SXSW tool The Austin Buzz

Charts & New Music Editor

After successfully releasing BIGSOUND Buzz, a tool designed to measure the hype and rumble around artists at last year’s conference in Brisbane, Melbourne-based digital agency Bolster Music has released a slick new version of the tool for SXSW. 

Appropriately dubbed The Austin Buzz, the tool is powered by data from social media, providing a leaderboard, bar graph and pie chart view of who’s trending at the conference in a distinctive but intuitive graphic interface.

A screenshot of The Austin Buzz in action

Alex Zaccaria, Co-Founder and Director at Bolster, told TMN that the tool was originally developed to test their skills. It ended up taking off as delegates and even record labels started taking note of the tool.

“Last year before BIGSOUND, we wanted a way to showcase off some of what we could do whilst also making it easier for punters and industry to wade through the huge amounts of great artists performing,” Zaccaria said.

“We had international delegates using it to find out who they should watch and labels changing their release strategy to try have an effect on their artists’ rankings, which was pretty fun to watch.”

Generating 35,000 hits from over 20,000 unique users throughout BIGSOUND, it was a logical step for Bolster to expand the tool and make it available to punters at the biggest music conference in the world.  

The tool has options to view leaderboards over four different time periods from twelve hours to seven days, allowing you to see the most talked about artists at different stages of the event’s duration.

It also works to connect and engage fans with artists once they have discovered them, integrating and linking to their social media and Spotify accounts.

“Basically, every 15 minutes about 15 different servers scan the internet for 10 mentions of 10 artists each. Then, an algorithm we developed ranks them based on the volume of posts about them, the influence of the people who posted about them, and the engagement on those posts.”

While BIGSOUND Buzz was an instant hit in Australia, taking it abroad is a new task for Bolster. However, Zaccaria claims that initial overseas reception of the tool has been “pretty good”, with a strong local strategy being key to its success.

“We wanted to push this out quickly so the Aussies caught it before they head off to Texas. We’re hoping it gets some more attention over in the states in the coming days.” 

Bolster will be active throughout this week and next, taking the data generated through the tool and offering additional content for users as they progress through their SXSW experience.

“We’ll be posting frequent updates throughout SXSW on who’s ‘buzzing’ on all our socials as well as a daily email update, which will talk about trends we’re noticing. We’ll also include a Spotify playlist of the top 25 buzzing acts for each day, which should be some good listening!

“Outside of that, we’ll develop some animated infographics and reports on what happened, who trended and why after SXSW.”

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