MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE WITH SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS
This article will shed some light on the effects Spotify Editorial Playlists have on their featured artists, revealing and analyzing some in-depth data. These playlists are the place where loads of musicians now aim to be, sometimes without really knowing what this will practically lead to. Down below, I’ll share what I personally noticed on Spotify Editorial Playlists both on artists I did campaign for and others who kindly shared their data with me.
TO MAKE IT CLEAR: This article is for Spotify nerds, or generally whoever is interested in knowing how Spotify Editorial Playlists work and the effects they can have on music artists that have been featured on those. This is NOT a guide on how to be featured on a Spotify Editorial Playlist. Because, despite whatever people might say, there’s not an exact science or something in particular that will give you more chances to be put on one of them. The most important things are how good is the MUSIC you send to the editors and if it fits the MOOD of their playlists, pretty simple.
HOW TO GET ON SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS: EASYYY!!
I’ll share here a video that Spotify made some years ago about their Editorial Playlists, and you won’t need to waste time on other videos or articles that tell you how to finish on one of them:
What I want you to know before sharing any data, is that even though Spotify Editorial Playlists are highly coveted, they won’t make you famous, they won’t make it easier for you to have a record label contract. Most surprisingly of all, they WON’T MAKE YOU GAIN ANY NEW FOLLOWERS.
Yeah, I know this may seem pretty strange. People sometimes think that being featured on a Spotify Editorial Playlist might be the next step to success. But that’s not exactly the case.
So let’s dive right in together, and I’ll show you everything I gathered until now.
“BRAM STALKER“: THE FIRST EXPERIENCE WITH SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS IS UNFORGETTABLE
The first time I noticed that not all that glitters is gold on Spotify, it was while I was doing a campaign for a Stoner Rock band called Bram Stalker. They wrote a song called “Dormant” with Nick Oliveri, ex-singer and bassist of Queens of The Stone Age and Kyuss. To be honest, I was personally really pumped for this release and couldn’t wait to start a campaign for them.
We did a Pitch Presentation to Spotify Editors exactly 33 days before it came out, with a nice description of the song and context. When the song came out we received an email that said that the band Bram Stalker was featured on the Spotify Editorial Playlist “All New Rock”. That was amazing news and we celebrated the same night with champagne and caviar since they were going to be rich (joking, but we were really excited about it). Anyway, that was great news for them, since they’re a relatively new band on the platform and their song was shared among other famous artists like Josh Homme, Royal Blood and Biffy Clyro.
The campaign we did for this single had a limited budget and part went to Facebook and Instagram Ads that directed to the single on Spotify.
On the ad platform side, everything was going great, with good cost results and conversions. Plus, we had this great bump of streams from the Spotify Editorial Playlists, but here’s where the nasty part came.
Facebook Ads campaigns are more successful when people save the song on their personal playlist (so they’re easily gonna listen to it again). Even more successful when the Algorithmic Playlists “Release Radar” and “Discover Weekly” are triggered, which, as a consequence, makes more people put the song on their playlists and listen to it on repeat.
SPOTIFY ALGORITHM PLAYLISTS: HOW TO TRIGGER THEM AND WHAT THEY ARE.
For those of you who don’t know how these two works, Release Radar is a playlist generated by Spotify every Friday on your account with all the new releases of the artists you follow. The artist’s new release can appear on this playlist up to 4 weeks after the release is out. It can potentially appear on more accounts depending on the Save Rate of the song. (The save rate is the number of saves a song has divided by the total number of listeners, basically the higher the better).
Discover Weekly instead goes out every Monday and it is triggered by different variables and when some song’s values reach a certain amount. Based on my personal experience I noticed that a song has better chances to be featured on Discover Weekly when: it has a 25% of popularity score or above (you can easily see this using musicstax.com), the audience listens to the song at least 3 times on average, the song has over 10k of streams (easier when around 16k/18k), it is present in at least 100 Playlists and has a Save Rate around 30% or above.
A release doesn’t need to tick all these boxes to land on Discover Weekly anyway, but the more the better.
So Facebook Ads, the way they work help triggering the Algorithmic Playlists. That’s because they have a positive impact on the Save Rate and can potentially increase the artist’s followers. Which consequently will create exponential growth and trigger more Release Radars when a new release goes out.
After this small digression let’s go back to the Editorial placement matter; how did this help the band Bram Stalker?
“BRAM STALKER”: THE RESULTS THEY HAD FROM “ALL NEW ROCK”
Well, “All New Rock” is one of those Spotify Editorial Playlists that keeps the artist for just one week, after this they’re gonna be replaced by new music. Basically, not all Spotify Editorial Playlists keep their song-list the same for months. So that’s the first myth to deconstruct: the band stayed in the playlist for one week and had 5039 streams from 3956 listeners. Objectively not an impressive number in the Spotify ecosystem.
You could argue that it was not really that bad either…well it kinda was. As I was saying, I was managing a Facebook Ad Campaign for this release, also with the scope of triggering the Algorithmic Playlists. However, the thing that happens when a song is added to a curated playlist is that its Save Rate is going to plummet. And in this case I’d say pretty heavily since the playlist has, as of today, 278.000 saves, which means loads of people are not going to save the song or add it to their own playlists. In the end, we said bye-bye to Release Radar’s help for the campaign.
We also had to say goodbye to Discover Weekly, for this simple chain reaction: huge playlist features them -> low save rate -> small Release Radar Trigger -> small number of listeners gonna save it to their own playlists -> low repeat listening.
The fact that the song stayed in the playlist for just one week didn’t leave enough room for it to trigger the Discover Weekly properly since it couldn’t even reach more than 10k streams. In this situation, if a band doesn’t have enough money or doesn’t want to spend too much on promotion, the risk is that they could find their song stuck in the middle of nothing. They just remain with a cool Instagram Post that says “We’re on a Spotify Editorial Playlist, hurray we’re finally famous, link in bio”.
SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS’ REAL NATURE
People who listen to playlists, don’t save songs, don’t put them on one of their playlists, and don’t follow the artist, unfortunately. You might think “they probably don’t like the song if they don’t save it”, but that’s not actually true. Those people’s behavior is based mainly on the context they are listening to the playlists.
Just think about it, most of the Spotify Playlists have a particular mood or they suggest you listen to them while you are doing a particular activity. For example, Spotify made thousands of playlists for when you are meditating, running, doing jogging, yoga, pilates, any kind of workout, drinking coffee in the morning, working in the office, working at home, working in a mountain alone when you are meditating with your dog and it is -30 degrees and if you don’t call the emergency you gonna die of frostbite….well I think you got it.
For new artists, in 99% of cases (and believe me this number is more accurate than you think as I’m going to show you later), people are not gonna stop their activity to see who’s the artist playing. Moreover, they are not gonna investigate their artist page and follow him, or either save the song and add it to one of their playlists. For the simple reason that doing this will stop their activity, and on people’s minds, they are not really searching for something new most of the time but just some background music to their activity.
Even if you’re not listening to these activity-based playlists and you are listening to simple genre-based playlists, the outcome remains the same, and I’ll now explain to you further why.
First of all, when someone’s listening to a playlist he usually doesn’t have the screen of his phone or pc always in front of him. That’s because he’s probably doing something else in the meanwhile; might be chilling, might be going to work, or simply traveling in the car. In all these scenarios, people will seldom stop, look at the artist, and remember it.
Moreover, when someone’s listening to a playlist in the background, he doesn’t stare at the screen without doing anything else for the whole playlist, which usually is longer than 2 hours; unless people are purposely searching for new artists, which rarely happens on a playlist.
“HIS HIS” AND THE SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLIST “FOLK & FRIENDS”
Recently, I did a campaign for Canadian singer-songwriter “His His” aka Aidan Belo, something interesting appeared to me on his Spotify for Artists. His song “Home, Home” was featured on the Spotify Editorial Playlist “Folk & Friends”, also this one was a weekly playlist as “All New Rock”, and the song reached 6003 streams and 3906 listeners overall.
As you can see in the image below, he also didn’t have that much support from the Algorithmic Playlists. So again, being featured on a Spotify Editorial Playlist didn’t help him after his featured week was over. Indeed the song had difficulty triggering the Release Radar and didn’t properly trigger Discover Weekly either.
Now you might think that only Spotify Editorial Playlists that keep their songs for just one week can have a bad effect on a release campaign. Well, here comes the most interesting part.
“ELKVILLA”: WHEN MULTIPLE SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS FEATURE YOU FOR MORE THAN ONE YEAR
The Australian indie-folk artist “elkvilla” aka Adam Dudek, had a totally different experience with Spotify Editorial Playlists, as he was featured on five of them.
Three of these were Personalized Playlists, which are Editorial Playlists that change based on the listeners’ taste profiles.
His single “Sink” was featured on “Acoustic Pilates” and the two Personalized Playlists “Notte” and “Pausa Caffè”. While his other single “The Cold Will Keep You Here” was featured on “Indie Brandneu” and the Personalized Playlist “Sommergefüle” (a seasonal playlist that changes its name every 3 months depending on the season)
Nowadays, elkvilla is still featured on “Acoustic Pilates” and “Pausa Caffè” and he stayed on “Indie Brandneu” for around 2 weeks. “Sommergefüle”, which was originally called “Herbstgetühle” (Autumn Feeling) featured the song “The Cold Will Keep You Here” for around 3 months.
If you take a look at the data below, you can see that his two songs had triggered Discover Weekly effectively. His song “Sink”, even though the Save Rate might have been low, it had other parameters that helped to trigger the Discover Weekly. One, for example, is the popularity score, which is still around 38%.
Although elkvilla collected 134k streams from Discover Weekly, which is an impressive number per se, they represent 16% of his total streams in the case of the song “Sink”.
The majority of streams still come from the Spotify Editorial Playlists (65%), and, as you can see, just 14% came from “Listener’s own playlist and library”. This suggests that a restricted number of people saved the song while listening to the playlist or added it to their own personal playlist.
THE RESULT FROM SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLISTS YOU WOULD NEVER EXPECT
And here it comes the “upsetting” part: even though elkvilla has almost 2 million streams on Spotify, he just has 537 Followers at the moment.
Even though he has 15.331 monthly listeners, the majority of these, as we saw, come from Spotify Editorial Playlists and some from the Algorithmic ones. Overall, the listeners that came from all of these playlists are around 580.000. If we hypothetically assume that all 537 followers came from these playlists, which is a highly optimistic hypothesis, this would represent the 0,09% of listeners. This would mean that just 0.09% of the 580.000 persons that listened to those playlists decided to follow elkvilla on Spotify.
And of course, this doesn’t come from the fact that the music is not good enough to make people follow him, or it would even be featured on those playlists, but indeed from the context that those listeners are discovering his music, as I previously anticipated.
This low number of followers, compared to his total streams, had a negative impact on his Release Radar. Even though all elkvilla‘s songs hit the Release Radar, all these singles together just had 1406 streams from it. That’s also because the Editorial Playlists didn’t make his song reach a high Save Rate, so Release Radar never give him enough boost.
So, maybe you might think that all these playlist listeners didn’t push the button to follow the artist, but might stay up to date with his next releases. Unfortunately, that’s not the case, as elkvilla follow-up single called “Stranger” reached just 6103 streams, at the time I’m writing this article. If people don’t follow the artist in any way, like Instagram or Spotify itself, it might be hard to stay up to date with new releases.
Potentially, the number of followers should have been much higher, compared to the streams, if they would have come from a different scenario. For example from organic sources like social network followers or Youtube Subscribers, or even from Facebook and Instagram Ads.
“BVRDEN”: THEIR RESULT WITHOUT BEING FEATURED ON ANY SPOTIFY EDITORIAL PLAYLIST
There’s a band called Bvrden that I personally curate ad campaigns for, which wasn’t featured in any Editorial Playlists, and I’d like to show some of their results as a comparison.
They currently have 232.977 all-time streams and 1834 followers and let’s consider their listeners for a moment. Their listeners would be around 33.306 if we consider all of them as unique listeners among all their songs, so they are potentially less than this number. In this case, the percentage of people that followed them after listening to one of their tracks is 5.5%, which is a really good percentage, especially if compared to the other case I showcased above with Spotify Editorial Playlists.
LET’S DRAW SOME CONCLUSIONS FROM ALL OF THIS.
What is evident here is that Spotify Editorial Playlists can be a double-edged sword, especially for artists that have allocated little money on their advertising budget and have just been featured for one week. If you’re included in one of them, it doesn’t mean your music career will change in one day, nor that you will always be able to grow a fanbase thanks to them. I’m sure there are thousands of other scenarios, which also depend on the type of music, artist career and so on.
Another thing that is sure is that if you are featured in a Spotify Editorial Playlist and don’t have enough followers already, Release Radar would be extremely hard to trigger.
These playlists might help you get noticed anyway, and they are an incredible social proof that shows that your music is appreciated by Spotify Curators, which is a thing to be proud of. It also shows that Spotify does listen to your music even if you’re totally independent and don’t have a record label or manager behind you.
I want to thank the bands Bram Stalker and Bvrden, Aidan Belo (His His) and Adam Dudek (elkvilla) for letting me share their personal Spotify data which helped me to show more clarity on a subject that’s still pretty obscure and mythologized. I do hope this article will give you and artists in general a better understanding of how Spotify works, and that having support from Spotify Editorial Playlists shouldn’t be your final scope.
As always, what will make you thrive as an artist, nowadays in the streaming platforms era and also in the future when something new will come in, will be and always be your FANS.
By Romeo Ciarla