This is a true David and Goliath rivalry that has been waging for some time now. Spotify is over a decade old, has grown into a force to be reckoned with and has officially fended off even Apple for the title of music streaming top dog.
Most people are well aware that Spotify is an incredible streaming platform and arguably the best one out there but in terms of music monetization, which streaming service is best? Which service will help aspiring musicians climb their way up to stardom? And which will help you the most in music monetization?
Although there are many different types of streaming services, statistically speaking, Spotify and Apple Music are among the leading streamers that let users pick and choose any song the like from their seemingly endless library. Although their software and layouts are similar, they have taken two very different approaches when creating their programs and the services they offer could greatly affect the way listeners discover new music.
However, before we talk about their approaches, let’s look at which streaming service has the biggest audience. According to business insider published on August 2017, Spotify has hands down beat Apple in terms of loyalty, usage and subscribers. Obviously there are more people using other Apple software like iTunes but when it comes to music streaming, Spotify takes the cake. This is a huge feat considering the size difference between the two companies and the amount of money Apple invested into Apple Music to beat Spotify.
Not only was Spotify one of the first to enter this field but they have a more appealing, user friendly layout along with very flexible financial options. They still offer a free service so long as listeners are content with sitting through a few adds and not being able to listen to music offline. It’s a great method of attracting new customers and is one of the reasons why they became so popular. Although Apple Music’s 3 month free trial is a very sexy offer, it doesn’t seem to be enough to out-subscribe Spotify. This is also fantastic for those who are interested in your music but have never used Spotify. Users may be more tempted to try a new song on a platform that does not require them to entry of credit card info.
Spotify has also become more attractive to a younger generation after the Hulu and Spotify student discount merger. Students 18 years or older will have access to Spotify Premium and Hulu (not Hulu Plus) for just $4.99. Apple Music also offers a student discount for the same price but without the hulu subscription.
So it’s settled, Spotify will allow new musicians to reach a broader audience. But is it worth investing the time and energy into pushing and placing music on just Spotify? If money really is an object, then yes -putting music on Spotify will likely lead to more monthly listens. Of course with all music monetization through streaming, there isn’t going to be much a profit made from just monthly listens from the get go. “Spotify admits the average “per stream” payout to rights holders lands somewhere between $0.006 and $0.0084.” Although gaining from music monetization, money isn’t the most valuable turnout of this investment – the recognition is. So don’t count on making the money back but know that is is very much possible to make a great return on investment after considerable publicity. Getting music on Spotify is merely a stepping stone to becoming widely recognized.
Now let’s get down to the meat of the matter. Aside from reaching more people, how will using Spotify help bring new music to light? It seems that putting music on Spotify software gives up and coming artists a better chance to glow in the limelight. Whereas, reports show that Apple Music curators (real people) sift through new music, compile playlists for users and then use an algorithm to distribute the content. In an interview with Pitchfork, Apple’s Plagenhoef said, “no algorithms are used until the distribution, rather than the construction, of the service’s playlists. ‘Both our radio product and our playlists are all completely hand-picked,’” This means there is bias when it comes to discovering new music. With Spotify, a computer will decide where your music goes and you can rest assured knowing that your music is given a fair chance at being discovered a publicized along with great new music
So, putting music on Spotify already gives new songs and albums a better chance of gaining recognition. But there is a secret to getting a new song discovered. Obviously, some of the best perks of having a music streaming service are the suggested playlists – finding your way onto one of these lists is the key to kicking off a successful career in music.
That being said, there aren’t many brand new artists with less than 1000 monthly streams featured on suggested playlists and that’s a hard number to bump up by just telling friends about a new song. It seems the threshold to make it onto a hit playlist is going to be a couple hundred thousand spins a month. Luckily, there are a number of ways to get a song into the sights of Spotify’s algorithm. CD Baby, a music distributor, offers a few tips on how to make it onto a hit playlist. And in the most extreme example, a considerable amount of money can be made from making the cut on a Spotify sponsored playlist.
According to CD Baby, Charles Alexander of Spotify says their algorithm is powered by collective feedback. So the more people listen to a song, the more likely the program is to pick it out of a freshly released bunch of tracks. That is, of course, much easier said than done, but there a number of tactics artists can use to draw attention to a new track.
- Use a distributor to get music on Spotify. Click here for a link to their guide to picking the right distributor. After that, get the artist profile verified. This simply means you are part of the Spotify for Artists branch of the program. This means artists can: Merge the artist discography page with a user profile, share playlists directly with fans, add custom art and descriptions to playlists (including links), update an artist profile image directly from the Spotify for Artists interface and access analytics with Spotify for Artists
- Embed the Spotify Page to a personal or Facebook page related to the band. If a website isn’t established, that should be a high priority. This could offer even more traffic to come through a Spotify artist page.
- Although it’s obvious to some, take the time to push the album or song release via social media, texts, emails, ect. Ask friends to follow the account on Spotify – it’s one of the best ways to show support. Ask friends to share that playlist with their friends, have fans at shows take out their phones and hit the follow button and maybe consider digital advertising. Setting up this base of followers is going to greatly increase the chance of making it big on Spotify. Get creative!
- Make your way through as many playlist types as possible. There’s 5 different types: Personal, other users, collaborative, branded and curated playlists. Start from the bottom and make way through as many as possible.
- IMPORTANT. Spotify playlists get the most recognition when they meet certain criteria. (A) Always keep playlists updated. (B) Add new songs, get rid of old ones, ect. (C) Use one song per artist – over-saturation of one artist will result in the algorithm downgrading the playlist. (D) Be sure to only put between 25 and 30 songs in one list. (Apparently, the algorithm favors this.) (E) Promote the playlist!
- Talk to other playlist curators. There are a number of people that make their own playlists that are not affiliated with Spotify. Consider reaching out to them and asking if they would be interested in including a song of your own if it fits the genre of the playlists they’ve created.
Click here for the CD Baby pdf to find even more info on the importance of making it on big playlists. The ultimate goal is to find a way to the Spotify sponsored playlists like Discover Weekly list of Released Radar list.
Although Apple Music might offer many of these services, Spotify simply has more users and more experience with music streaming. This is going to take a considerable amount of time to make it to a big name playlist, so it might be worth focusing the most of your energy on Spotify lists. This is the new way that bands make a name for themselves without a label. Put in the effort, get creative and you may be pleasantly surprised.