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Streaming: The New Radio & We’re On It

December 16, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Spotify_JustCrySadSongsAmong the many benefits that streaming services affords to its patrons, none are as boundless and untamed as the ecosystem of playlists these platforms contain. There is a plethora of playlists for any mood, situation or activity and most of them are curated by everyday people like you and me. Due to the quality of these user-curated playlists, many have garnered large followings over the years. A surprisingly large number of playlists have over 25,000 followers and as many as 500,000! Wowzah.

Now — why is this something to note and how can it help our clients at The Orchard? Well, as terrestrial radio started to teeter, streaming services began to establish themselves as a convenient alternative. Listeners started to tune out of radio and login to stream — many choosing to listen to these expertly crafted playlists. Nowadays, more and more listeners are relying on user-curated content on services like Spotify and Rdio and less so on commercial-based FM radio. Since most content is consumed on mobile platforms, the radio seems to be taking a backseat to its younger streaming sibling.

People colloquially known as “Tastemakers” curate these playlists and in doing so, garner followers. We in Retail Marketing are treating many of these Tastemaker playlists as mini radio stations, promoting our clients’ releases to their creators. We make sure every track that is being pitched is done so to the appropriate playlist — 21st century radio promotion! After a track is added, followers of that playlists are alerted to its inclusion and due to this, streams naturally increase and in turn so does revenue. People are clicking and really listening! We want to raise the quantity of playlists we pitch exponentially in the new year and as a result we will most likely see a large uptake in the amount of tracks streams. Cheers to 2015 and to the new way to radio!

Change Is In The Air for Spotify’s Desktop Platform…

November 10, 2014 Featured News, Marketing No Comments

Spotify_ios-sdkWe’re soon going to be seeing some changes from Spotify, regardless of whether we see Taylor Swift albums return or not. Spotify is in the process of a major redevelopment of their desktop platform! If you’re in New Zealand, Australia, Singapore, Denmark, Ireland, Norway, Bulgaria, Czech Republic, Cyprus, Estonia, Iceland, Latvia, Lithuania, Malta, Philippines or Slovakia, you’ll start to see the new and improved platform slowly roll out, with 100% of Spotify users in all territories seeing the platform in early 2015. No further info yet on what to expect, but we think it’s going to be pretty cool.

As part of the roll out, Spotify is phasing out their third party apps. Once the new platform is launched, it will no longer be possible to run third party applications within the desktop client. Never fear though if you are looking for tools to build apps outside of the Spotify platform! Spotify has just launched their new Web API and mobile SDK’s for iOS and Android. If you have any questions on how to use these tools, please check out the FAQ’s on Spotify Developers site.

Welcome to the Compilation Era

chill out

Rumors of “The Death of the Album” have been greatly exaggerated. Sure, comparing this week’s SoundScan numbers to those 20 years ago is good for a laugh (or a cry), but it bears remembering that the album, as we currently think of it, has only existed since the late-’60s. Before that, it was really more analogous to a photo album — a collection of pieces packaged together more out of convenience than any sense of artistic necessity. The LP had been around for about twenty years before the real beginning of “The Album Era,” which, interestingly enough, is about how long the MP3 has been around today.

Now that we all have basically every song ever recorded in our pockets at all times, the signal-to-noise ratio can be overwhelming, and people need new ways to consume and engage with music. To that end, the digital compilation might just be the “capital-A Album” of the post-MP3 era, providing a fresh listening experience based more on real-world utility than genre, era, or perceived cultural capital.

There are countless ways that repackaging can breathe new life into a piece of music. A compilation that features your best-selling artist and your 20th best-selling artist will benefit both — further driving track sales for an established hit, while also using that hit to attract fans and buoy sales for under-performing catalog — but this doesn’t just work for two artists within the same label or genre. With compilations that focus on moods or activities (“Music for Dinner Parties,” “Music for Road Trips,” “Music for Writing Long-Winded Blog Posts,” etc.), anything goes, provided it flows well and fits the stated function of the collection. For example, “Chill Out: Mellow Music for Relaxation” (pictured above) is a mixture of underground Hip Hop, Jazz Standards, ’70s Psychedelia, Classical Guitar, downtempo Electronic music and Reggae. These seemingly disparate styles can all be packaged together in the right context, introducing the consumer to new music they might have otherwise dismissed.

As genres splinter into smaller and increasingly arbitrary sub-genres, and established catalog continues to outperform new releases, it is clearly time for a new way forward. Spotify‘s front page has a list of curated playlists where “Workout” and “Focus” are listed between “Pop” and “Latino;” and Songza (recently purchased by Google for eight figures) has built an entire business around curating playlists to compliment any situation, and recommending them based on what you’re likely to be doing at any time of day.

More and more each day, this seems like the logical next step for an industry in constant transition. Welcome to the Compilation Era.

Merch, “Experiences,” Serendipity: Spotify Has Everything But The Kitchen Sink

bandpage_spotifySpotify has really ramped up their fan experience with the roll out of their successful artist merchandise store on verified profiles, incorporated tour info via Songkick and stream counts to help fans find popular songs.

They recently took a step further with the integration of BandPage onto artist profiles. Besides providing fans with the option to buy merch, concert tickets and vinyl, BandPage enables artists to really connect with their fans by way of “Experiences.” These experiences can range from private online concerts to meet and greets to even song collaborations. The sky is the limit! The greatest news is that it is completely free for artists to use! For more info on how to get started with BandPage, click here; and for some FAQ action, click right here.

But wait — Spotify also has more fun on the cards with the roll out of their “Serendipity” app that shows users across the world streaming a specific song at the same time within the last hour. So where was your favorite song played across the globe??

Spotify Serendipity

Convert Promos to Monetized Streams

SpotifyEmbed_QMagazineMonetized streaming is becoming a more and more important source of revenue for our artists and labels. It’s often presented as a new world of doing things (which is true), but this does not mean abandoning all the old principles of a music release, rather modifying and melding the two to work together.

Many recent UK chart single successes were streaming for weeks before they hit their ‘impact date’ and achieved a Top 10 status (streams were recently integrated in the UK Singles Chart). Streams were built up as radio and promo were going on, and 11 of the 14 singles on BBC Radio 1 A List are currently available on paid streaming services. Though we may not all have the resources to achieve a No. 1 or even the desire, the principle remains the same: make sure your retail strategy directly takes advantage of a music release’s traditional tools — in this case, press and radio.

Here are some examples:

When you take a single to radio, make it available to stream, too. While non-monetized streaming services are great, make sure you fans are able to listen to it on a monetized stream as well –this will actually put some cash directly in your pocket.

When premiering a track or video on an editorial site, again, make it available on a streaming service that pays out, and suggest getting the site to embed a link from a monetized streaming service as part of the premiere.

Spotify recently announced 10 million paying subscribers; Deezer is at 5 million — and that’s not including freemium users for either. Arguments against accessibility are becoming weaker and weaker. Don’t be afraid of asking your publicist to push for an embedded playlist from a monetized streaming service, rather than just a free streaming platform. It’s becoming increasingly common for editorial sites to accommodate this, and in the past few months, we’ve seen them on premieres from The Guardian, Q, Drowned in Sound, Clash, and Rock Sound among many others. The BBC has even integrated them into their BBC Playlister.

Screen Shot 2014-08-12 at 10.48.12Take a gander over to Pitchfork, where there are Spotify embeds next to most album reviews. See the giant spike in the graph on the right? This was recorded on a Wednesday, two days after the release of the album, which coincided with it receiving Best New Music from Pitchfork. You guessed it, next to the glowing review was a Spotify embed. This demonstrates the powerful effect that directly joining your press with a retailer promo can have on your final numbers.

In addition to new strategies like embeds from streaming services, platforms like Shazam make the connection between hearing something and connecting it to a retailer quicker and simpler. We’re no longer in a situation where you have to wait a month to find that great track you heard at midnight on John Peel’s radio station and purchase it. Take advantage of these new opportunities and find ways to connect your press and promotions with streaming services and tools that will help you monetize your music faster.

Bonus: If you’ve got a WordPress-based site, you only need to copy and paste the HTTP link to include a Spotify embed. Case in point: find below a New Electronic playlist we recently set up in the UK, featuring music from Hyperdub, Caribou and araabMuzik. Enjoy!

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