Updated 12/27/13: Original source CITEworld has retracted their story — “Due to writer error, an original version of this article stated that Iron Maiden used MusicMetric’s analysis to plan its South American tours. MusicMetric did not work directly with Iron Maiden. The analysis described in this article was carried out without the band’s participation or knowledge, and we have no confirmation that the band ever saw or used it. CITEworld deeply regrets this error, and we apologize to our readers.”

Illegal downloading has been the subject of almost constant debate since the late '90s, with artists and labels undertaking many different measures to try and stamp it out. Iron Maiden, however, have reportedly chosen a different tactic.

Recognizing that there's really no way to stop people from using readily available technology, the band has instead opted to employ the services of Musicmetric in order to figure out where their songs are being stolen most regularly -- and then they're adjusting their tour schedule to visit those places on the map.

As Torrentfreak points out, there's a school of thought that says pirates are actually the record industry's best customers, because they're the ones who are most engaged with the music -- and where there's engagement, there's an opportunity to make more money, so Iron Maiden have started scheduling concerts in the countries where the data points to the highest amount of illegal activity.

As Musicmetric's CEO put it, "If you know what drives engagement you can maximize 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.' If you engage with fans, there is a chance to turn a percentage into paying customers. You can see that through various bands using the BitTorrent network in a legal way to share content."

According to Torrentfreak's report, this approach has already paid off for Maiden in a number of spots. Noting prevalent piracy in Brazil and Chile, the band decided to focus on South America during its latest tour, which included its first-ever visit to Paraguay -- and the result was a string of sold-out shows. It remains to be seen whether this approach will truly take off across the industry as a whole, but it seems smarter and more productive than running up legal fees by playing whack-a-mole with IP addresses. As artists obtain more powerful tools for parsing data, it'll be interesting to see how they continue adapting to slumping sales by learning more about who their fans are and what they're willing to buy.

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