Interview with Jonny Quinn

When did you realise data was important?

Data became an important aspect of my business once I understood how our royalties were being collected.My publishing company uses an outside administration and collection service called Kobalt. It uses metadata, which is tagged to every song, to collect royalties from up to 700,000 revenue streams. The software it uses is game-changing and can earn artists up to 30 per cent more than traditional publishers.

When and how did you set up your own business?

I set up Polar in 2010 with Gary and Nathan and signed directly to Kobalt as our sub-publisher. We started the business with one songwriter and slowly added a roster of 20 artists/bands and four writers.

How does Polar differ from traditional publishing companies?

The main differences is that we set out to sign artists for shorter-term deals (for example, a one-album deal). It’s an artist-run company and we tend to be more flexible in how the contracts are upheld. We also get involved in nurturing the talent outside of publishing.

How do you use data?

The data that Kobalt collects presents us with information that didn’t previously exist for a band like Snow Patrol. For example, on tour we can adjust our set list in each country due to the info gathered on the songs’ popularity.Data is helping us know more about our market and audience, which could streamline our costs, especially with regard to touring. For example, if we can show our booking agent there has been a huge amount of streaming from Mumbai, then he can lift the phone.

Why don’t more artists do the same?

There are some examples of artists like Mumford & Sons, who run the successful Communion label. But I’d say a lot of artists don’t find the business side of music that exciting.I’ve dealt with Snow Patrol business for 20 years, so I did have an interest. There’s a huge creative side to publishing, which is rewarding.

Are there any lessons there for the ad industry?

Advertisers know some of their money is wasted in marketing in the wrong places, so data can inform you of where to spend in a more targeted way. We can show advertisers who our music reaches by age group, gender and location.