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Iron Maiden makes millions by touring where its pirates are

Instead of trying to clamp down on music pirates, Iron Maiden takes its tours to them, and makes millions in the process.

Update: An earlier version of this story ran with the headline: 'Iron Maiden targets tours at pirates, makes millions'. Musicmetric has been in touch to point out it didn't work directly with Iron Maiden, but carried out its analysis completely independently. But that's not to say bands don't use this type of data to plan their tours. Andrew Teacher, Musicmetric's head of PR, told me: "I'm sure bands will use some indicator to do this, but there's no evidence Iron Maiden used our data."

I'm happy to put the record straight. The original story follows. 

Now here's a band that's putting a positive spin on music piracy. Iron Maiden noticed its music was being heavily pirated in South America, but instead of sending in the fuzz, or trying to clamp down, it targeted the area for upcoming tours, CiteWorld reports.

The result? It made millions of pounds from ticket sales and merchandise. Sure there's a lesson to be learnt here.

Such was the success of Iron Maiden LLP -- the holding company for the heavy metal band -- that it outperformed the UK music industry as a whole, according to stats compiled by Growth Intelligence. So how did Iron Maiden go about turning the table on the pirates? It enlisted a UK company called Musicmetric to find out where its tunes were being pirated heavily, and hence where it had lots of fans.

"Having an accurate real time snapshot of key data streams is all about helping inform people's decision making," Gregory Mead, CEO and founder of Musicmetric, told CiteWorld. "If you know what drives engagement you can maximise the value of your fan base. Artists could say 'we're getting pirated here, let's do something about it', or 'we're popular here, let's play a show'."

It all comes down to how you look at it, I suppose.

Apparently the Maiden is huge in Brazil, judging from the amount of BitTorrent traffic it gets there. So the band has focussed exclusively on South American tours in recent years. One Sao Paolo gig alone grossed £1.58 million.

Its number of social media fans went through the roof, too. In the 12 months ending on 31 May 2012, the band gained more than 3.1 million social media fans. After a recent UK tour, its online fan base grew by 5 million.

So there you go. Maybe suing your own fans isn't the way to go after all. Who knew?

Is piracy killing the music business? Are streaming services like Spotify the answer? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook page.

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