Updated: Feb 25
At Spotify's recent Stream On event they announced their roadmap for the improvement of the service highlighting 8 key changes, one 'Marquee' has the potential to be a real game changer, here's why....
Brilliant yet frustrating.
Spotify should be an independent artists' best friend. Afterall it pays them for every stream and gives them the chance for their music to be heard by fans all over one Spotify connected world.
But the dream of blowing up and being 'big in Japan' just doesn't just happen. In fact it's claimed 20% of tracks on Spotify have never been streamed that equates to 400,000 unheard tracks. It's clear success requires promotion and here comes the frustrating part... currently direct promotional tools on Spotify are limited.
Spotify has created an abundance of features that help the independent artist once the music has been discovered, but very few that directly help with first time discovery. For example.
Artists can create a playlist on their profile but can't promote it directly to their Spotify follower base
Artists can highlight a key release with the 'Artist Pick' but this is only seen once fans have decided to visit their profile
Artists can choose a track to pitch to the Spotify editors ahead of release for editorial consideration but let's be honest very, very few new independent artists launching on Spotify will go from launch to editorial playlist anytime soon
Artists can use Canvas to add looping video to their track artwork to engage listeners
What about playlists?
Spotify's plan for music discovery is via playlisting and while the editorial playlists might be immediately out of reach of new independent artists, the algorithmic playlists offer more hope. A feature on Release Radar can be a game changer, but once again you are unlikely to feature on an algorithmic playlist unless there is significant activity on your account. Stream, Saves and Follows tell Spotify this is an artists that is engaging fans and should be featured. But how do you build the buzz?
When you can't promote on the platform, independent artists begin to look for the next best thing off platform. Facebook Conversion Ads or Independent Playlist Promotion.
Facebook Conversion Ads
Currently the most efficient way of attracting new listeners, is to run targeted Facebook Conversion ads. As the name suggests, the aim is to convert people into Spotify listeners and ultimately fans. By targeting a combination of new potential fans and retargeting previous listeners and engagers this approach can deliver great results, if you know what you're doing!
A Facebook Conversion is counted when someone clicks a button on a landing page that says 'listen on Spotify'. But a Spotify stream is 'converted' when someone clicks 'listen on Spotify' then actually waits for the Spotify app to open and then listens to 30 seconds of a track. Consequently there is a reporting or accuracy gap between those that convert and those that actually register as a Stream. There is nothing more frustrating than to discover only a fraction of these conversions have become Streams.
Paid Playlist Promotion
Spotify's lack of direct 'on platform' paid promotional tools has created several monsters. First we had the scourge of the Spotify 'editorial playlister pitcher.' A whole industry of charlatans sprang up claiming they could pitch your music to Spotify's editorial team, of course they couldn't - but were happy to take your money. Spotify moved to kill this by allowing every artist the chance to pitch a track for editorial playlist consideration, but while this helped it left many artist wanting more.
This led to second monster 'the paid independent playlister' who charge independent artist a fee to put their music on a playlist. Initially this seemed like a great solution until you realised, the streams were all coming from one listener / bot in Taiwan and your account was deleted!
Marquee promises to be Spotify's first direct on-platform, promotional tool. They describe it as the best way to get your new release to the right listeners and activate your fanbase. (Finally!) Usage was initially limited to selected artists and labels, and there was a high minimum spend threshold of $5,000 but that is now being removed. The ultimate aim to introduce a self serve platform like Facebook ads so artists can create and ran campaigns directly.
Initial results seem encouraging. An overall click through rate of 20% was recorded in tests. IE Over one-fifth of Spotify users who were served a Marquee ad streamed the promoted release within a two-week timeframe. They were also 2.2 times more likely, on average, to save or playlist a track from it.
Spotify executives must be looking at Facebook ads driving to Spotify and realise they are missing a trick Former CFO Barry McCarthy, highlighted the company's desire to boost ad revenue from 10% to 20% of its overall sales, and a self serve ad platform allowing artists to target fans directly seems like the logical next step.
Register your interest in Marquee
Words Mark Knight
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