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Posted: 11/15/2012
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EMI Music EMI Exploits 'New World of Data' for Single View of Music Across 25 Countries

Record company EMI Music wanted to integrate the large amount of information it uses—including massive consumer surveys, demographic, and partner data from companies such as iTunes—to gain a single global view for its artists. By deploying Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse technology, EMI now has an accessible single source of country, consumer, and partner insight data to support decision making about the needs of consumers in 25 countries.

Business Needs

EMI Music is the world’s fourth-largest record company in terms of market share. It manages artists and distributes CDs, digital music, ringtones, and merchandise. The firm operates in 25 countries through three regional divisions, including the United Kingdom and Ireland.

The music company has a wealth of complex information from both internal and external sources, but, until recently, decision makers were unable to exploit the value of this “Big Data” store. David Boyle, Senior Vice President of Insight, EMI, was determined to launch a suite of projects to derive value from the data and generate insight in three key areas:

Country data. Prior to the deployment of the country insight projects, EMI had outdated and incorrect internal and external demographic and geographic data. This made it difficult to support marketing business decisions—for example, pitching and promoting artists in new countries.

Consumer data. EMI didn’t have an effective method for processing the massive amounts of survey data collected by the business to better understand consumer music tastes and buying behaviour. It was difficult to perform analysis across countries and time zones.

Partner data. EMI distributes its music through around 200 external partner organisations, including iTunes and Spotify. But there wasn’t a method for analysing or reporting on partner activities other than those related to financial transactions. The business required deeper insight to help with a range of strategic decisions and drive extra revenue from existing and proposed partners.

Boyle says: “The overall solution is split into the three key insight areas, but the primary objective was to unify all the information into one consistent subject area. We wanted it to be easily accessible to every EMI decision maker in 25 countries.”


EMI deployed Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse based on an HP hardware platform. The solution presents users with data, visualisations, and insights through Microsoft SharePoint technology and desktop business intelligence (BI) tools. Microsoft Gold Partner for business intelligence Adatis implemented the solution using SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse best practice methodology.

EMI decided to process the data into Microsoft SQL Server 2012 data management software using SQL Server Integration Services and SQL Server Analysis Services cubes—both Multidimensional and Tabular, the new model introduced in SQL Server 2012.

Sacha Tomey, Owner and Director, Adatis, says: “We first engaged with EMI in 2009 and started to put together the consumer insight project. Initially, we used Microsoft SQL Server 2008 running data in Excel Services for analysis, but we wanted to take advantage of new technology as an early adopter. Since March 2012, we’ve had the Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse solution in place, which provides self-service analysis for users.”

The data warehouse easily scales up to 80 terabytes, and offers EMI enterprise-class BI capabilities. Tomey says: “The largest amount of data is the partner insight area with the digital music service Spotify. Altogether we have 8 billion rows of data, rising at the rate of 20 million rows a day.”

Tomey says: “Adatis was the ideal Microsoft Partner because of its role as an early adopter of SQL Server 2012 technology, domain knowledge, and specialism in best practice BI methodologies.”


EMI is taking advantage of the “New World of Data” for a single view of sales, including albums, tracks, ringtones, and merchandise. The deployment of a SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse solution has given EMI near real-time insight into consumer behaviour. Data, visualisations, and other information formats are available to users to report on sales. The warehouse can handle huge quantities of data even with the partner subject area increasing by 20 million rows a day.

Firm gets global insight. With a global solution using SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse, EMI can get an insight into how individual artists’ albums, tracks, ringtones, and merchandise sell in different countries. With innovative ways of analysing data, the company can react quickly to changing consumer behaviour.

EMI gains single source of information. Boyle says: “EMI has embraced a new way of working with a single source of subject area information. For example, it’s now easy for people to use the consumer insight to understand patterns in sales.”

Data warehouse unifies disparate information across the business. Data is now much more consistent, with disparate sources of information unified and accessible to users. Boyle says: “In the early days, we made great progress with Excel Services. But to meet the massive demands of the business, we had to shift focus. With Microsoft SQL Server 2012 Fast Track Data Warehouse, our users can access the business data they need using standard Microsoft desktop tools.”

Partner helps improve performance and manageability. Microsoft Partner Adatis has future-proofed the solution and successfully handled integration with existing data sources at EMI due to its expertise in best practice BI methodologies. Tomey says: “Adatis has formed a real business partnership with EMI. We are part of the team and will continue working to extend the project to other data sources, including YouTube.”

Company promotes global music industry through innovation.Boyle says: “By using innovative BI technology, we’re hoping to promote and enhance the whole global music industry by leadership in sharing data and working smarter to meet consumer demand.”

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Solution Overview

Organization Size: 4500 employees

Organization Profile

EMI Music is a global record company based in London. It manages and supports numerous artists, including Coldplay and Katy Perry.

Software and Services
  • Microsoft SQL Server 2012
  • Microsoft SQL Server Enterprise System
  • Microsoft SharePoint Server 2010

Vertical Industries
  • Communications & Media
  • Media & Cable
  • Film & Studio

United Kingdom