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This 28-Year-Old Knows Which Artists You'll Be Listening to 6 Months From Now

This 28 Year Old Knows Which Artists You ll Be Listening to 6 Months From Now Mother Jones


Alex White, 28, is the cofounder of a company called Next Big Sound ("Making data useful"), which, as its name and slogan imply, uses computer algorithms to determine which musical acts are about to take off.

The company's Social 50 chart lists the internet's most-talked-about acts—the Beyoncé's of the world—while its Next Big Sound chart lists the hottest up-and-comers. St. Paul and the Broken Bones, as it happens, showed up at the top of the latter chart about a week before its March SXSW showcase. "I learned that we were No. 1 on something," Janeway recalls with a full-bodied laugh. "And I thought, 'Oh! We are No. 1 on something!'"Launched in 2009, and widely consulted by the mainstream music industry, the company crunches consumption data from social media and music-streaming sites, tracks buzz on Facebook, Twitter, SoundCloud, and YouTube, and collects private sales figures from clients and partners to inform its predictions. Its engineers and analysts—some of whom hail from data positions at Microsoft, the New York Yankees (think Moneyball), and the Department of Defense—compile everything into a ranking system.

The guys didn't think much of it, but it may well have kicked open some big doors for the band. Next Big Sound, first conceived by White when he was an undergraduate at Northwestern University, now provides data for 70 percent of the music industry.

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"70 percent of the music industry." <--- whoa!

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