‘Monthly Active Users’ tells us something, but not nearly enough…

MBW Views is a series of exclusive op/eds from eminent music industry people… with something to say. The following comes from Russ Crupnick (pictured), Managing Partner of MusicWatch – a leading US-based marketing research and industry analysis provider to the music and entertainment industry. MusicWatch works with major labels, trade associations, and streaming and technology companies to understand trends in consumer behavior. Prior to founding MusicWatch, Crupnick founded and ran the entertainment practice at The NPD Group.

Eamonn Forde authored an elegant missive in Music Business Worldwide.

In it, he describes the “asininity and obfuscation” around the use of Monthly Active Users (MAU) as a metric to describe growth and engagement for digital platforms, including DSPs.

His arguments are hard to disagree with. One can guess that the alleged lack of transparency traces to platforms treating their internal performance metrics as a tool for competitive advantage.

That is why independent companies such as MusicWatch regularly take the pulse of users to create metric sets for these platforms.

These figures are generally available to anyone who wishes to subscribe, as subscriptions offset the significant cost of creating the metrics – sound familiar. Since I cannot hope to approach Mr. Forde’s writing talent, let’s rely on numbers instead. 

One of Eamonn’s observations is that MAU hides the actual regularity of use. MusicWatch uses a frequency metric to determine how often the listeners counted as MAU are using all of the streaming services, as well as broadcast radio and even CDs and vinyl.

This sample, from MusicWatch’s Q4 2022 audiocensus report, shows that half of Apple Music users listen daily, which is typical for the leading DSP’s.

Interpreting from Eamonn’s article, DSP’s could indeed have very similar MAU levels, but the quality of that audience could be very different. We can tease that out with another engagement statistic measuring time spent listening (TSL).

This tells us the intensity of usage. 

Here is an example for selected streaming services. The next time you read about Apple Music approaching Spotify in terms of “MAU” you’ll know that Spotify has an average 70 percent advantage in actual “engagement” based on TSL.

There are other metrics we use to evaluate performance. One of my favorites is the “Net Promoter Score” (NPS), a construct created by Bain.

In laymen’s terms, NPS asks if you love your service enough to recommend it to others. An NPS score over 50 is said to be outstanding.

There are many KPI’s and performance metrics available from third party measurement companies – MusicWatch and others.

Above all, the financial community should be supporting the production of these statistics.

Mr. Forde calls for a “MAUratorium”. I say surround MAU with other data so we can live harMAUneousily. Music Business Worldwide

Related Posts