David Boyle talks Audience Strategies, data, and emerging tech
Photos provided by David Boyle
David Boyle is the Director of Audience Strategies, an agency that helps brands get a deeper understanding of their audience through research, analytics, and data science. Composium talked to David about the current trends he's seeing and his thoughts.
It is crucial to know your audience regardless of what industry you're in and what you offer. "If you really understand your audience in a way that's very useful then decision-making is better, easier, and quicker," David Boyle says. "Understanding and [really] meeting the needs of one set of audience is much more powerful than trying to be everything to everyone." Having worked with some of the biggest artists in the world like David Guetta, David has seen how that deep understanding of one's community changes how one approaches art and products.
As we talk about how companies aren't using data to its full potential, Boyle comments that to their defense, data is usually terrible: it's not collected properly and is poorly analyzed, without clear, compelling 'so whats', making it either useless or dangerous. "When you're faced with so much garbage and overly confident analysts who feel like data is the answer to all problems, you end up being a little cynical and frustrated," he continues.

In his words, you shouldn't spend too much time on the data that mainstream platforms like social media and streaming services give you. Although it provides some basic information and facts about your audience, it doesn't give rich data on who they are and why they care and it is far from offering what he calls 'insights' – useful truths that inspire action.

"The first place I'd look for real insights these days is AI. I'd ask ChatGPT questions about the audience for the [field] I'm in [and] ask it to describe my different audiences," David says. Also, there are some great social media analytics tools such as Audiensse, which allow you to deeply understand other artists' audiences similar to yours.

The first step, really, is asking the right questions. "Don't just look at the audience you've already reached – look at who you want to reach [next]," David advises. "One, define an audience who is your 'now' audience – your core fans – and [make sure] you're doing everything you can to super-serve their needs. Two, pick your 'next' audience, who probably want different things from you [that require different] marketing, and be very deliberate about going after them while still keeping your 'now' audience on side."
Boyle reminds me that two months ago, we were talking a lot about the metaverse and NFTs. Then ChatGPT came along and absolutely changed the game. "It helps you do almost anything thinking- or writing-related, and almost all of us spend our days thinking or writing," he elucidates, saying that it's crucial to adapt it into your life if you want to keep up. "I contrast this explicitly with web3 and the metaverse: They look strong until you put ChatGPT on the scale. The world has decided that this is much more important as a trend – rightly so."
For David, the metaverse is any kind of digital space where you can interact both with other people and the digital world. This definition is simple and includes games like Fortnite and Roblox. "The metaverse is around today at a vast scale and is the place where young people spend their time, socialize, and discover culture," he states. "If you're a brand looking to be relevant to that generation and you choose not to be involved in the metaverse because you think that it's complicated and overhyped, you're fundamentally wrong." He admits that he sees a lot of brands making that choice.

To start, all brands need to do is just start and be authentically present there, something the analyst calls a ridiculously simple step that many haven't done yet. At the moment, everything is very platform-specific – there isn't one single destination you can go to access the metaverse – so you need to discover which platform resonates best with your business and suits your audience's needs. "Commit to it, learn its ways, and experiment until you build an audience," David concludes. It's really not much different from what you need to do in physical spaces.

There's also a growing demand for experts who can give clear answers and advice about the metaverse. Boyle himself explains that while he knows the basics, there aren't that many people who can actually hold your hand and guide you through the necessary steps to get acquainted with and be present in the metaverse.

As for blockchain and NFTs, the technology is still in its early days. There are a lot of possibilities opening up that no other tech was able to offer before. "If you want to spend time on radical new solutions to problems and invest time in building not for today and tomorrow but for what comes after, then this is a really exciting place to be," Boyle comments. Right now, though, most of the blockchain-based products aren't understandable or accessible to most people in comparison to other trends like the metaverse and AI.
Most of the metaverse is gaming, especially if we look at it from David's definition. As music companies transition to web3, there are a lot of things they can learn from their relatives in the gaming industry. Most of the games have a free-to-play accessible version with added perks that you can pay for (also known as the freemium model). "If we look at the music industry, that's radically different to the concert experience – there's no free version," David says. "An obvious extension would be for the music industry to make sure that there's always a free version with which people can play and engage with in some way."

At the same time, through this freemium version, gaming companies built out a smart monetization model where they offer cool limited-edition merch that users can buy, sell, and trade. While merch existed in music for years, there need to be more limited-edition offerings for super fans that people can value and "fight for".

David co-authored PROMT for Musicians, a guide to growing your career using ChatGPT. Make sure to get it with a 50% discount with this link (note: the discount kicks in at the checkout!
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