D2F interaction on social media is great. But engaging with fans directly via streaming services is a vastly under-exploited way to resonate with your fanbases. It’s about time we encouraged streams on both back- and front-line catalogue, and build up a faithful follower base both during and in-between release cycles.
Not only did income from streams grow 41% year-on-year (now representing a fifth of digital revenue), but music fans are listening to more music than ever and engaging with music in unprecedented ways.
Today it’s possible to check daily what one’s favourite musician feels like singing in the shower that day, provided the musician is actively sharing his Spotify playlists. If only artists updated their playlists as often as they post music on Twitter!
Essentially, managers, artists and labels alike need to embrace this new viral medium. One could see Universal’s acquisition of Digster (responsible for some of the most streamed playlists on earth) as a statement of intent that they will not leave this new medium uncontrolled.
So developing on Matt Riley’s tips on this very blog, our research can recommend a few new ways to leverage fanbases on streaming services.
No rocket science? Then get on it!
1. Access advanced customisation & analytics
You can be granted — usually through your distributor — Spotify VIP profiles, Deezer4Artists / Deezer4Labels accesses, or similar pre-approved logins on other streaming services. Alas, without unified logins, managing several artist profiles is still quite tedious; but that should be integrated in the activity of the social marketing manager.
Approval enables various degrees of customisation and the ability to post playlist descriptions, thematic images, and so on.
Analytics can reveal useful information to help target your activity: age group, location, gender…
Also note that it’s possible to link up an Artist page with a user. There must be active users within your roster of artists who would happily share their playlists to the world!
2. Create streaming occasions
Arguably Spotify’s best feature is the ability to browse through the history of music in streaming form. But users usually turn on the service and whoosh – it’s Pandora’s Box. What am I going to listen to, among these gazillions of songs? Friend recommendations play a big part in the browsing experience, but aren’t we always looking for curators? Who better, then, than your favourite musician or label? We can surely rely on their creativity to find great themes – from the traditional “my influences”, to the less common “If I took over the PA at my local Bingo club”…
It’s also so easy to create competitions, where the winner will be chosen among the playlist or artist followers!
Also worthy of note, Sounddrop enables the creation of collaborative playlists in real-time, to be coupled with a live chat with the artist for efficient fan interaction.
3. Grow your follower base, aka ‘follow me on Spotify’
Updates to playlists a user is “following” will appear in their feed and possibly trigger a listening experience linked to your musician. The user is engaging with the artist and likely to stream, or click “follow”, even if you don’t earn a dime on other artist’s streams. The search algorithms and homepage recommendations also push up popular artists according to their follower’s ratings.
On an official release date, any new track will be almost instantly noticed by the artist’s followers – but make sure of that by also creating a playlist to mirror the release. By interacting with the fans via streaming services, we (hopefully) won’t need to “re-break” our artists on subsequent release cycles.
It’s fairly obvious by now to include streaming services as a music destination on all marketing emails and social networks, and to add Spotify / Deezer / Rdio tabs on your Facebook pages…
Yes there are too many services (and only a few will survive…), but do try to duplicate playlists on all streaming services, or use the likes of Bop.fm to bridge services – and do create interactive images where each streaming service logo is clickable, through for instance Thinglink.
5. Adopt a new product management strategy
Allow us to step completely aside from the sensitive context on this (namely the BBC’s push for on-air/on-sale activity with their Playlister app linking all the songs they playlist to Deezer/YouTube/Spotify; and iTunes’ recent insistence on having systematic first dibs on release dates…)
In one week, out the next? These days, one can feel very jaded surfing on the wealth of pre-release streams on Soundcloud and its attempts at racking up comments and plays… But well-orchestrated pre-release streams can create something quite special as fans and the curious congregate to be teased and treated equally. One can of course seek media partners to host the event, but few of these are ready to use streaming services players by fear of alienating some of their readership (though the lesser-known possibility of creating a Deezer free-streaming widget exists).
But have we thought about pre-releasing music progressively, in the lead-up to the official release date, be it on Spotify or YouTube who have pre-existent artist fanbases that you can measure? Doing this brings plentiful rewards (possibly a million+ views, whose monetisation can offset the costs of a YouTube ad campaign), and not doing it creates frustration – because streaming service subscribers now seek to centralise all their music consumption in the app they are paying for, and hate seeing “No results found”…
With that in mind, if the music is on Soundcloud, why not make it available on streaming services which are monetised? Especially since single tracks can now be made available on & off at specific intervals, ahead of the rest of the album.
Or why not consider releasing a simple taster mix of the album up there? The importance of mirroring tracklistings into playlists has been mentioned but what about creating 30-second preview clips playlists, in the run-up to an album’s release, to be then replaced by the full tracks as soon as it comes out? Easy wins.
6. Set up marketing operations with the streaming services
Streaming services are fighting a tough user-acquisition battle, and you can make the most of that. You can potentially reach millions of users if they echo your exclusive or your playlist on their Facebook profiles, Twitter accounts and through newsletters, let alone being featured on the service’s Homepages…
The most streamed playlists on Deezer are curated by their editors, and their weekly top 10 playlist generated 876,000 streams worldwide over the winter holidays. I once noticed a 35-fold increase in streams for a track we got included in the plays-by-default playlist!
There are several trade-marketing angles to play and various rewards for your exclusive content & viral relays.
Spotify’s Spotlight playlists cannot be underestimated either, with a cumulated audience of a million users… and their aim is specifically to “spot” new artists.
7. Seek inclusion in popular playlists
Your PR endeavours should seek inclusion in the playlists generated by the media (NME, XFM, Pitchfork…) but also playlist-specialist sites such as Topsify (recently acquired by playlists.net), Shuffler or NordicPlaylist.com…
Engage with playlist spreaders and makers. Some playlists have spread virally, and simple users have blossomed into sought-after curators… Chad Krivanec’s Weekly Top 40 Country playlist is followed by 88,000 users!
Consider celebrities for endorsement (anyone keen to exchange inclusion in Wayne Rooney’s playlists for a horse tip?)
Oh and if your main artist recently split from his rather-bland Hollywood actress, why not turn him on to Tastebuds.fm, which will match his streaming library with like-minded girl-next-door’s… or with his own groupies if he mostly listens to his own tracks.
Victor Conradsson is Believe Digital’s senior sales and training manager.