We sat down for a chat with rising South African musician, Josh Kempen. He told us how he is using music-streaming service, Spotify to plan his first international music tour.

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Where It All Started

The first CD I ever owned was Rodrigues – Cold Fact. I was 7-years-old and I remember my dad jokingly saying that my first CD was older than his first CD. Like everyone else, I didn’t know about Rodrigues’s ignorance of his own success until the wonderful Searching for Sugar Man documentary that I watched many years later.

Currently, I’m planning a tour with my agent and record label because we have a budding fanbase in Europe that we would like to grow. The amount of information we have to work with, specifically Spotify for Artists, in this case, brought the story of my earliest musical hero to mind.

The chances of making music that moves thousands of people are slim, but to do so, and not know about it, is quite heart wrenching. To be handed a bite of the rock & roll cherry, thinking it was a worthless marble is quite frankly, devastating. 

How Spotify Is Changing The Game

Fortunately, a tale like that will never happen again. These days, musicians have access to comprehensive analytics at their fingertips. I can open my Spotify for Artists dashboard and be presented with up to date information on how many people are listening to my music, when they are listening, what songs they love most, what countries they’re in and, better still, what cities.

I imagine a young Sixto Rodrigues in 2017, cigarette in mouth, walking into a coffee shop with the MacBook he probably bought with his record deal advance. I imagine him open up his Spotify dashboard, he prepares himself for final confirmation of the diabolical flop of his debut record. I imagine the cigarette falling from his lips at what he would have seen. Staggering listenership, South Africa and Australia are a deep red, tens of thousands of monthly listeners, lighter shades across Europe, and some North American states. An incredible trajectory of month-to-month growth in listeners and streams. It would be enough information to convince his label to let him work the territories and grow the career he deserved. It would have made for a weaker story, but maybe an easier life.

For me, deciding where to tour has been as simple as picking my top 3 or 4 cities on Spotify. Next year, this will take me to Berlin, Munich, Hamburg and Amsterdam. From there we will build on other territories showing promise for growth. These are statistics we would never otherwise know about with such accuracy, they allow me and my team to focus our resources and efforts on the territories with an actual fan base, and hopefully use them as a platform for the rest of the world.

This doesn’t guarantee a successful tour, it doesn’t even guarantee a tour, it just greatly reduces the downside.

We make music to connect, and it’s quite comforting to know that, if my music really connects someplace, I’ll be just a plane ride away.

Be sure to follow Josh Kempen’s musical journey HERE.

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