I've been thinking about the results and trying to distil them down into broader categories, which maybe tell us more about general attitudes to music discovery.
Recommendations or positive coverage by other people, friends or reviewers, make up over 40% of the examples. This shows the power of people we trust placing the music in a positive light. Obviously the key here is to find people who like your music, and make it easy for them to share it with others. Undoubtedly a part of that is about playing gigs where people can bring their friends to see you - but that requires that you have a decent fan base to begin with. It's cheaper and easier to let them share online.
Reviews alone carry about 1/3 of the weight that friend recommendations do. Magazines seem to still be the biggest game in town here. Perhaps the key is to get good reviews as the seeds from which the friend recommendations will grow.
More passive forms of coverage by other people, eg. music presented without comment at clubs, on radio, etc, make up almost 19% of the results: well worth aiming at, although with it being both harder to achieve and less likely to pay off than getting word of mouth recommendations, it shouldn't be the main strategy.
Automated recommendations based on your own purchases or listening habits make up about 11% of the results. I don't know whether this is something bands can easily aim at, but I suspect this proportion will grow over time, I'm surprised that Spotify didn't feature at all in my results though, as I thought people were discovering new music that way. Given the scandalous nature of how little they pay artists for each stream, it would be adding insult to injury to find out that hardly anybody is getting much new exposure that way either.
Discovery directly via live performance was just over 7%, and almost all of that was from festivals. I don't know whether this imbalance is because festivals are more popular than individual gigs or whether people are more open to discovering new bands at festivals. I suspect both are true to an extent. The only lesson I see here is that the vast, vast majority of people will not form their first impression of you via an intimate gig, so gigging as the primary way to reach people is misguided, at least for the audience I surveyed.
I have memories, clouded by sorrow
Of a time in life when blood ran through my veins
- A few extra thoughts on how people discover new music