Making your music available on streaming platforms is becoming less and less of a choice in today’s music industry. And while the way Spotify, Apple Music, and other major streaming companies compensate artists is hugely complex resulting in payments rarely substantial enough to take care of musicians’ bills, artists still have a lot to be excited about when it comes to the world of streaming platforms and playlists.
Companies like Spotify have invested an insane amount of time and money into finding ways to help connect artists with the right listeners. Part human curation, part highly complex algorithm, Spotify’s Discover Weekly Playlist feature builds completely unique and personalized music selections to its users. More than 40 million users actively listen to the Discover Weekly feature, and statistics show that over 70% of listeners save at least one song per week to their libraries from the weekly playlist. What does this mean for you as an artist?
Spotify is getting incredibly skilled at matching the right music with the right listener. Just a few years ago, you’d upload music to Spotify and not have a lot as far as new listeners streams go without significant outside promotion. Now, Spotify is committed to getting your music heard by the widest audience possible. Other platforms are taking notice and adopting similar features, but no one is even close to matching Spotify’s massive reach and discovery expertise as of yet.
Remember putting your music on Myspace and watching the play counts roll in? Well, major streaming platforms are similar to Myspace band pages but with highly detailed analytic features. A decade ago, only expensive radio campaigns could give artists the benefit of knowing which national cities were spinning their record and which ones weren’t. Bands would take that information and decide what cities to book shows in for tours.
These days, major streaming platforms can tell you that sort of stuff and much, much more. Streaming analytics information is now so detailed that it can describe things like the age, sex, and country of origin of your listeners as well as how they stumbled upon your music in the first place. Artists can use this information for everything from knowing where and when to book shows to finding ways to capitalize on and develop relationships with press outlets, blogs, and other playlist curators. These platforms can also give audiences some of the same information it gives to artists, which helps in the music discovery process.
The money side of a music industry increasingly turning to streaming platforms for distribution and listener consumption remains problematic for serious musicians, but artists still have a ton to gain when it comes to the ability to connect with new audiences and the benefit of learning about who their listeners are.
Patrick McGuire is a musician, writer, and educator currently residing in the great city of Philadelphia. He creates music under the name Straight White Teeth, and has a great affinity for dogs and putting his hands in his pockets.