Slightly Sharpe
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Active vs. passive listeners

  • avatar
    Dan Fratoni
A person holds a phone in the middle of the screen with Spotify rendered on the screen. The 'Weekly Buzz' and 'Ultimate Indie' playlists button are prominent.

If Spotify is a car, playlists are its seats. From editorial to algorithmic, playlists drive listeners. We’re big fans of playlisting and services that offer placement on legit third-party playlists, but think it’s important for artists to understand the full picture.

Who controls the playlist

Follower interests, location, and demographics should match up with the artist’s fan base.

A good example

Your new pop smash featured on Spotify’s Today’s Top Hits. A playlist updated weekly by Spotify staff, featuring the latest in global pop music.

A bad example

Your acoustic folk song featured on a playlist named “New Indie Pop Tunes”  that used to be called  “Kanye West Donda” and amassed 100K followers looking to stream Kanye’s latest album ahead of release. A classic bait and switch. (Yes, this happens.)

How listeners consume

Listeners tend to put on a playlist and let the music play for a while - a passive decision to sit back and listen to whatever comes next.

Quite a few playlists attract listeners with big names upfront, only to stuff the channel with lesser known music thereafter. While it’s a proven method to get listeners in the door, amassing massive plays without converting fans (e.g., through likes and Spotify followers) is not sustainable for an artist’s growth.

One of the biggest misconceptions in music is that monthly listeners equal fans.

Playlisting vs. advertising across socials

If artists have a budget that allows them to do more than one thing, then diversification is always the right answer. Don’t put all eggs in one basket. Try a few things and see what yields the best results. Oftentimes, two or more activations in tandem make for a winning combination. Think: new album + tour, or drum + bass.

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