Click each app’s links below to discover them on Spotify!
Last week it was announced that Pink Floyd’s catalogue would be unlocked in Spotify after ‘Wish You Were Here’ gets streamed 1 million times (that target was reached yesterday). It was a brilliant promotion to add to the already exciting news that another legendary band’s back catalogue would soon be available for streaming and so the story gained huge exposure across the music press.
For anyone who is not Pink Floyd, though, it’s very difficult to get your music discovered within Spotify’s vast catalogue, which at the end of 2012, was estimated at 20 million tracks. For artists and labels, it’s hard not to feel like your music or catalogue, are not just drops in the ocean, but this is where apps can come in.
One of the most important aspects of apps within the platform is that they allow for exploration and discovery. Apps provide the opportunity for labels to promote new content, showcase artists and, most importantly, highlight catalogue. In some cases, apps are becoming just another aspect of a new release campaign.
There have been some great label apps developed, which have led to a large amount of streams being notched up. A prime example is when classical label X5 launched their app Classify. X5 saw streams of their album ‘The 50 Greatest Pieces of Classical Music’ increase 412% in a month.
In this case, the app built catalogue awareness so much that it led to an increase in digital sales: the album’s iTunes sales shot up 50%. This is turn saw the album hit Number 1 in the Swedish iTunes Classical charts; plus it also went into the iTunes Top 200 album charts for the first time, hitting Number 152. A pretty phenomenal case for a successful app!
Another hugely successful story is Earache’s Metalizer app. This slickly-designed app works as a playlist generator, where users can slide bars on the mixing desk to reflect what type of metal they want their playlist to emphasise. So, whether Metal, Thrash, Death or Grind, the app generates a playlist to suit a user’s taste.
Following the launch of this app, Music Ally reported that more than 23,000 playlists were created on the first day that the app was launched, and 180,000 during the first week alone – this equaled 9 million track streams. Again, very impressive numbers. The creativity shown via the Retro Fuzz-designed app is another example of capturing the imagination and support of music and tech press, which supported these huge streaming figures. Interestingly, when discussing the success of the app with Music Ally, Earache founder Digby Pearson stated that they had seen their Spotify income rise steadily each month, whilst there had been no impact on their iTunes income.
As with Classify, Blue Note is another aesthetically-pleasing app, which can appeal to, and be of use, to everyone from jazz novices to jazz experts. There are options to explore Blue Note’s vast catalogue by filtering through editorial options such as ‘tradition’ or ‘voices’, to build playlists and share tracks with friends. It has also, brilliantly, got a shop tab at the top of the app, where users are shown a range of merchandise, including CDs and LPs. Users can also click directly through to the Blue Note Records online shop (albeit US-based). In the case of Blue Note, Billboard reported incredible user dwell time, stating that the app generated an average of two-and-half-hours of listening per user during the first three months of its launch.
The examples of these apps require a huge amount of dedication in terms of finance and build time, so they aren’t accessible for all labels. But there is help out there, via VC-funded Soundrop. Within the Soundrop app, users can listen to music in real time with friends and other Spotify users, in dedicated virtual artist listening rooms. All artists on Spotify now have their own room, where only their content is streamed. It is essentially a free Spotify app for artists. The chat functionality of Soundrop is a great feature, as it enables artists to have real-time conversations with their fans, and where fans can chat with each other.
The release of a new album or an exclusive Spotify pre-stream promotion is the perfect tie-in for an artist to have a Soundrop chat. Each listener is a unique stream. The promotion of a live chat creates a concentration of traffic to an artist’s room and most importantly their streams – tracks continue playing for as long as users are in rooms. Once in a room users can vote for their favourite tracks, which moves them up the playlist ordering, and obviously information such as this is invaluable.
I’ve recently spoken to Thomas Ford over at Soundrop to get some up-to-date stats, and the most successful Soundrop chat they have seen has been with Interscope’s Zedd. During the chat, there were more than 6000 concurrent listeners and over the course of having the room featured (a little more than a long weekend) in Soundrop, the room had been visited more than 300,000 times. Thomas also flagged that the rooms have an average session of about 72 minutes, which equates to approximately 18 songs per listener, an encouraging length of time for user dwelling. A great addition aspect is that Soundrop rooms can be embedded on artist Facebook pages, which opens the room up to more fans, who may not use Spotify. Alongside the room embed, the Facebook app pulls in an artist’s YouTube content, which is another strand of monetisation.
It’s also important to note that Soundrop rooms aren’t just for artists. There are also examples of labels and distributors creating Soundrop rooms to promote their brands or particular themes. For example, PIAS have created a ‘Barbecue’ music room — perfect for Summer — and both Red Bull Records and Believe’s own independent release platform Zimbalam have rooms showcasing their artists.
With the Zimbalam room, we recently hosted a Q&A with the UK manager of the service Chris Dyer, during his visit to Liverpool Sound City. The chat was an opportunity for artists to speak directly to Chris for an hour and get advice and hints and tips about releasing their music independently, whilst also join in the conversation with fellow musicians who were in the room at the time.
As Spotify continues to tweak its platform, it’s going to be interesting to see what they continue to add to support and encourage artist and catalogue discovery. Spotify’s new Discovery page will include another means for promoting apps, which will offer the opportunity to reach new fans. Third-party apps will also be available within the mobile Spotify app this year, which again is bound to boost streams, user interaction and support discovery.
I’m looking forward to seeing the stats on this, and whether mobile functionality will boost app usage. It’s more than likely as people become more attached to their mobiles, and mobile streaming becomes the norm for every person on the street.
Alison Lamb is trade marketing manager for digital distribution company Believe Digital. Welcome to midemblog, Alison!