Reading Time: 5 minutes
Written by: Branka Maxim
One of the newer kids on the block from a music perspective are streaming platforms. Steaming has completely revolutionized music consumption and many artists are making a full-time living off the revenue generated from streaming platforms like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, Tidal, and Pandora. In the United States alone, the streaming industry is projected to reach roughly $2 billion by 2019. Artists and labels that recognized the importance and power of this method of music consumption have given themselves a huge advantage in a highly competitive market. However, making your music available on streaming platforms is just the beginning. The existence of the music on the platform guarantees nothing in terms of traction in the streaming age. So what will give you consistent success on streaming platforms? The results will come from good music, a creative strategy, and intuitive action.
Manage your accounts and utilize available data
The effective management of your accounts is crucial in keeping your streaming activity working to your advantage. The streaming platforms have artist interfaces that allow you to customize and update your profiles, share your playlists, use on-platform marketing tools, and view analytics that will give you valuable insights. This gives you control over how listeners see you as well as an understanding of where your listeners are from which will give you valuable information for where to book performances. These essential tools give you everything you need to understand in relation to your music’s impact on the world. Some examples of these interfaces include Spotify for Artists, Apple Music for Artists and Apple Connect, and Pandora AMP.
Beware of click fraud promises
Amid the rapid transition to online streaming services as the primary mode of distributing music, the source of royalty payments is a new problem. The ascent of services like Spotify, Apple Music, Deezer, and Tidal—along with their per-stream payment models—has created an alluring target for fraudsters who need only a few auto-generated dance tunes and a modicum of coding expertise to fashion bots that basically snatch money out of thin air. Click fraud is the use of automated digital bots to “click” on payment-generating links and technically steal money by pretending to be consumers. Ever heard the term ‘If it sounds too good to be true, it probably is?’ Well, this is certainly the case for fraudulent promises that appear on streaming networks. Services that guarantee streams often rely on click fraud and all kinds of unscrupulous practices to generate activity. This deceitful activity will get you into a lot of hot water since these streams are monetized. As a result, Spotify and other digital streaming platforms may remove your music from their service.
Don’t be lured by the promises of boosting vanity metrics
Vanity metrics are elements such as registered users, downloads, and raw page views, and as an artist, you may find yourself lured by the concept of boosting them. What’s important to remember is that they are easily manipulated, and do not necessarily correlate to the numbers that really matter: active users, engagement, the cost of getting new customers, and ultimately revenues and profits. Similarly, services that guarantee playlist placements are often either involved in playola (paying for placement) or artificially inflating their own network of playlists’ followers with “listeners” who actually never listen to the playlist. Spotify’s outlook on these kinds of services is very clear as is evident from the company’s statement:
“Any service that guarantees streams or playlist placement in return for money is lying to you about their legitimacy. We never associate with services like that and anyone who tries to artificially increase stream counts will risk having their music taken down. It’s important to know that you’re putting your career at risk anytime you engage with one of these bad actors.”
Don’t stream your own music on repeat
It may seem like a clever idea, but in the world of streaming, it is also highly unethical to stream your own music on repeat in an attempt to boost play counts or drive streaming revenue. There is no problem in hearing your own music once in a while, but when you leave your newest track on a loop for two days straight, the streaming platforms will take notice and (potentially) remove your music from their service. Something that may seem innocent may have very harmful repercussions to your brand.
Get your existing audience to follow you on streaming platforms
Your followers on streaming platforms are the most likely people to hear your new releases, engage with your back catalogue, and add your songs to their own playlists. Getting a fan to follow you begins by simply asking. With Spotify, you can tell your fans that followers are more likely to see your new album, track, or remix:
In an algorithmic playlist such as Release Radar;
Featured inside their Spotify app;
In the new release email they receive, personalized for each user.
Embed players and use smart links
Make it easy for your fans to listen to your music where they want to hear it. Embed the corresponding music players on your website. These music players provide a better experience to the visitors and create more business by sign-ups to the products or services. You can also use a smart link such as Linkfire (a single destination that routes fans to their preferred streaming platform) when you share your music online.
Go off-platform to promote
Much of your traction on digital streaming platforms comes from the work you do off those platforms, driving listeners to places like Apple Music, Spotify, and Pandora. Find creative ways to drive your traffic to streaming platforms. Promote your music on streaming platforms via:
Social media accounts;
YouTube (cards and end screens);
PR (blog coverage, interviews, etc.);
Performances at your events.
Release new music more frequently
If you want to do well on streaming platforms, you should release music more often. Many of the streaming platforms’ algorithms function in such a way that you benefit from releasing new material as soon as the activity for your previous release plateaus (or even before). You need to keep the momentum going, and that means “stockpiling” extra material to drop while you’re building towards that next EP or album, including remixes, new singles, or alternate takes, one-off collaborations etc. The big players in the industry such as Bryan Johnson, Director of Artists and Management at Spotify UK, note the changing phenomenon:
“We are dealing in attention economics. Gone are the days when you can just spend six or eight weeks prepping a single and then dropping it to see how it does. Now you can just drop the track and then work it. Because the track’s available, people want it; people want more and more tracks. The more individual tracks [you have], the more chances you are getting to present your music to people.”
Get your music on Spotify playlists
Playlists have now become one of the most important avenues for music promotion. Getting your music on to a powerful playlist can generate thousands of plays for your music on Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer. Many of the biggest playlists are controlled internally by the platforms or by the major labels but there is an option for getting music into powerful Spotify playlists and that is to submit music to independent curators. These playlists are often smaller but getting into several independent playlists will help raise your play count, expose you to more tastemakers and can eventually lead to the powers that be at Spotify or Apple Music taking note of your music and adding you to the main playlists. Find out the best Spotify curators here.
Combine with YouTube playlists
When negotiating with YouTube curators about your music being included in a YouTube playlist, make sure to be informed about other playlists they may have on streaming platforms. Discuss options for including your music on their other streaming platforms in addition to YouTube. This will give you an added benefit and it will ensure your music is far reaching on a variety of large platforms.
The music streaming market is here to stay and although it may seem like a daunting task, familiarising yourself with these platforms will give you a huge advantage in marketing your music and getting in touch with your fans. Follow the above advice and you’ll be on your way to using streaming as a powerful tool in your music marketing.