• Live Oak Management

How Playlisting is Replacing Traditional Promotion for Music

By: Keith Montena, Account Executive


It wasn’t long ago that artists were promoting their music across daytime talk shows and radio stations with the hope of audiences buying a physical copy. With the invention of iTunes, ongoing focus on sales, and reliance on traditional promotion, it became easy to dismiss any change in the formula.



HEADPHONES: MAARTEN WOUTERS—GETTY IMAGES


That was until Spotify debuted in 2011, offering unlimited music streaming via monthly subscription. While it took a few years for the concept to gain traction, by decade’s end, competitors like Apple Music and Amazon Music rose, and it became clear the general public didn’t have the same intentions of purchasing individual songs or albums with such cost-effective alternatives. According to the RIAA, streaming made up 83% of total revenue in the music industry across 2020. This equates to earnings of over $10.1 billion, and highlights where artists are gaining traction in the present.


Streaming dominance has changed the industry’s standard protocol, and artists are promoting and pitching songs to streaming services. While the process is available online through Spotify’s website for artists, there are also crucial ways to make sure your voice is heard. This is done by understanding why curation is such a powerful marketing tool, and how the programs are run.


Playlisting on programs like Spotify and Apple Music boost popularity and discovery for songs, and are the perfect way to give artists exposure to new audiences and bigger streams. While active channels on social media encourage artist discovery, with playlists, listeners can find new favorite songs and artists without even having to try. New music can be sequenced next to their current favorites on a top playlist, or find songs that fit their current mood or desired sound. Spotify’s “Today’s Top Hits” playlist has racked up nearly 30 million followers, and this type of audience is much higher than the 1-2 million tuning into a night-time talk show.


One fallacy surrounding playlisting is that the process is only done through a service’s website and technology. The truth is, playlisting goes past AI systems and actually revolves around individual curators focusing on the genre. This is where communications matters; understanding that there is a wide range of curators within these companies is essential. For example, curating company Playlist Push has over 800 curators working to connect artists to playlists. Building relationships with those who playlist, or directly reaching out through different mediums to play songs, can be hugely beneficial. There are also companies which, for a flat fee, can aid artists in finding direct contacts or outlets for their genre or program.


Digital marketing is becoming the way of the world, and the push to utilize platforms on streaming services is a product of this. Less and less people are tuning into traditional services like cable television, or radio. Instead, listeners are logging into Spotify and searching through different playlists with the aim to find a handful of great songs.


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