Iron Maiden's Chasing Down Pirates and Making Bank Off Them

Piracy's bad, right? Doesn't it rob bands of their hard-earned royalties and make record labels go broke? Not so fast. Turns out there's something to the old line about piracy boosting concert ticket sales—at least, according to Iron Maiden there is. (Correction appended below.)

As record shops shut their doors around the world, the popular metal band turned to analytics to plan its next move. Using the British data-mining company Musicmetric, Iron Maiden monitored its growth in popularity on social media sites and spotted a spike in Latin America. But, funnily enough, Latin America was also the region where a large amount of Iron Maiden's music was being pirated.

Rather than turn their backs on the pirates or even take them to court, Iron Maiden recognized that a fan is a fan—and went straight to their front door. The band now regularly targets Latin America on tours and does so with tremendous results. One single show in São Paulo recently brought in over $2.5 million. These data-driven tours have also helped to bring in even more social media fans, and Iron Maiden has thus gained some five million new followers between 2012 and 2013.

It turns out piracy can work out for content creators after all; Netflix has used a similar strategy when deciding what shows to pick up, and a recent study showed the overall impact is negligble. [CiteWorld]

Correction: CiteWorld incorrectly made the assumption that Iron Maiden had used the data before touring, while Music Metric, the company that collected the data, claims that they handed it off after the tour. "Iron Maiden's BitTorrent data suggests Brazil is a huge driver of fans – and given Brazil is one of the biggest file sharing nations on the planet, this is a strong indicator of popularity," Greg Mead, CEO and co-founder of Musicmetric, said of the data. "With their constant touring, [the] report suggests Maiden have been rather successful in turning free file-sharing into fee-paying fans."

Image via AP