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Bernice and the Martians, BATM for short, were an incredibly popular progressive-rock band.

Their first big commercial success came with the release of their first album and their planned promotional tour, which took in all continents.

The manager of the band was none other than effable polymath, Renaissance man and good all-round rogue, Ricky Jonesy – an obsessive control freak, lover of fine wines and darling of predictive analytics. He really loved his numbers, his social media and his sentiment analysis.

In fact, much of the early success BATM came about due to Ricky’s unparalleled passion for the ‘Big Data’.

Ricky was the band’s architect. He had major input into their material: what they composed; how they composed; their stage sets and lighting; where they performed; the way they played; how they dressed; were photographed; spoke; walked; and, ate and drank. In short, he controlled the whole BATM enchilada. It was like being in data-driven heaven.

As I said, their first album, a progressive-rock masterpiece called ‘Your Hole’, achieved major critical acclaim even before it was bolting out of the stalls and across the interwebs. Overnight the band became big property, and their notional market value ran higher than Twitter on steroids.

The band members were really please. The presses interviewed Bernice right, left and centre and he made no bones about the fact that a major part of their success was due to Ricky and his Big Data mojo.

Articles about the phenomenon appeared in all the major social media sites. Facebook, LinkedIn and BubbaToons. Ricky was named Supreme Data Scientist of the year by the Gardener Group, hailed as a messiah by the Big Data Front and lauded by all and sundry.

Then the band went on tour. Blazing a trail of ones and zeros across the face of the planet.

They were 5 gigs into their tour and Ricky decided to call a band meeting.

“Hi, guys” said Ricky “I’ve been analysing the stats, and I see that those yokes Big Blokes in Tights are trending strongly on the social media, coinciding with the release of their new single Never Stick A Banger In Your Ear”.

“Oh, whoa” chimes in Bernice, “tell us what we gotta do then, Ricky”.

Back comes Ricky. “Well, this is what I thought we might do”

“We take the old Fester and Ailin song Tropical Diseases, we practice it as much as can, and then we play it at the next gig in Birmingham, this weekend”

“But, Ricky!” pipes up Marty Smarty, “it’s an Irish country and western song. It doesn’t fit in with what we do, does it? And, anyway, we only have three days to get it prepared.”

Ricky responds. “Ah, you don’t want to be worrying your little head over that. Trust me. Learn the song. It’ll be great. The public will love it.”

So, BATM learn the song. It’s perfect. At the Saturday gig, they play it as the encore. The fans love it to bits and there’s not a cold cigarette lighter in the place.

Then they fly off to Palma de Mallorca for a bit of a rest before their next gig in Madrid.

The guys and gals are lounging at the poolside at the legendary Don Pimpón Espinete Plaza complex. The weather is glorious, the food is glorious, the scenery is glorious, and even the orchestra is glorious.

Then along comes Ricky, calling yet another band meeting.

“Hi, guys” said Ricky “I’ve been analysing the stats again, and I see that those yokes Spanky’s Magic Piano are trending strongly on the social media with their cover version of Engel Humpadink’s The Monkey Song”

“Oh yeah, what’s that mean for us, Ricky” chimes in Halo Popette, the bands keyboardist.

Back comes Ricky. “Well, this is what I thought we might do”

“We take the old Fester and Ailin song There’s A Dead Man Up The Chimney, and we rewrite it in the style of Tom Jones when he made that album of his, Little Fockers, was it? Then we practice it as much as can, until it’s perfect, and then we play it at the next gig in Madrid, this weekend”

“But, Ricky!” pipes up Brian McGarsical, “It’s a bit of an odd one isn’t it? I mean to say, it doesn’t fit in with what we do, does it? And, anyway, we only have four days to get it prepared.”

Ricky responds as fast as a chalked-up cat going down a drainpipe. “Ah, you don’t want to be worrying your little head over that. Trust me. Learn the song. It’ll be great. The public will love it. And anyways, it will fit nicely on the playlist, up there with Tropical Diseases.”

The band rewrite the song, and practice the Bedejaysus out of it. Ricky likes it so much that he gets the stats to confirm that this has to be number one on the next gig playlist.

Come the day of the gig, and BATM kick off, not with a progressive-rock anthem, but with There’s A Dead Man Up The Chimney. A group of young people at the front clearly are loving this new sound, but quite a few people are starting at the stage in fright, and it’s not from skunk induced paranoia either.

Two guys are having a conversation at the back of the hall.

“Yo, lunchbox, hurry this gig up, I thought this band was all progressive-rock and stuff, not this wiener schnitzel stuff.”

“No comment.”

Having divided the crowd with their first song, they play songs from their album. Again, they encore with Tropical Diseases. The crowd at the front go wild. The progressive rockers look on, bemused.

“Well, that was a mixed bag” says Bernice.

“Take it from your man Ricky. It all went fine lads. Just needs some fine-tuning of the songs and the analytics need to be a bit more real time. Take me word for it.”

Back comes a unison of “Okay, Ricky. We believe yas!”

So, off they go to Bonn, to prepare for the following weeks gig at the Live Music Hall in Cologne.

The band goes out visiting the museums, they have lunch at Brauhaus Bonnsch, and after a leisurely walk along the banks of Rhine they are taking a beer or three in a lovely little beer garden close to the United Nations campus.

Then out of the blue, a familiar voice can be heard.

“Hi, guys! We’re all goin’ on a summer ‘oliday”. It’s the voice of Ricky. “Anyway, Good news guys. I’ve been analysing the amazin’ Big Data stats again, and I see that those mensch Die Zahnarzt are trending strongly on the social media, especially on Swotter and Titter, with their amazon’ cover version of Podge and Rodge’s chillout mix of Currywurst and Microchips.”

Silence. No one says a word for the best part of infinity.

Ricky continues… “As you’re not going to ask, lads, I’ll tell you. We take the old song A Great Day for the Washing, and we rewrite it in the style of techno-Buddah-bar-chill. Then we practice it as much as can, until it’s perfect, and then we bang it out at the next gig in Cologne, this Friday. Innit. Come on lads, it’s 20 minutes of stage magic, and it’s a breeze.”

Come the day of the gig, and the band arrive early at the hall. Ricky is already there. He’s changed the stage set completely and has a new wardrobe for the lads – Bavarian romantic. They’ll soon be all Princed and Smiley Virused up to the eyeballs, wrecking ball included.

and BATM kick off, not with a progressive-rock anthem or chill, but again with There’s A Dead Man Up The Chimney. Again, a group of young people at the front clearly are loving this new sound, but quite a few people are starting at the stage in drug induced awe. Then they follow that up with A Great Day for Washing. By the time they get to the encore of There’s A Dead Man Up The Chimney, boisterous arguments are breaking out everywhere and empty crisp packets and used sticks of chalk are being thrown at the stage. It’s a disaster.

Four guys are having a conversation at the back of the hall.

“I liked the first song”

“No! The first was terrible. Minging! I want my prog rock back.”

“It’s like the choice of leprosy or the plague.”

“Down with this sort of thing.”

Next day Bernice calls an urgent meeting of the band.

Ricky kicks off.

“Well, lads bit of mid-week game yesterday wasn’t it?”

Bernice comes back with a “You can say that again, Rick”

“Don’t worry, I have analysed the social-media Big Data from all of the concerts, and we’re doing good guys. It’s in the analytics”

“We have to go back to our roots and drop all the changes we made”

A stranger in the lounge where they are having the meeting walks up to them and in simple language explains to them what has happened.

“You created a great product, a great brand, with some interesting progressive music”

“Your music was acclaimed and your world tour was eagerly anticipated by all your fans”

“But then you went wrong”

“You became data driven, dopey and data driven”

“You chased fads, tendencies and styles, and it became a mish-mash”

“People don’t want mish-mashes. Not your base. They wanted good progressive music”

“You’ve lost all credibility. No, you’re just an eccentric band of brothers and sisters that no one will really want to see more than once, if at all”

“Your former fan base is acutely embarrassed by you. That’s your bread, butter, vodka and caviar… in your terms”

“Data drive, Big Data, Big Data analytics in real time?”

“You people have no idea the damage you can do, and so easily”

To be continued…

Many thanks for reading.

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