Spotify's Playlist Tool for Artists Launches: 'It Put a Lot More Power Into Our Hands'
More than 10,000 tracks were added to Spotify playlists during a limited beta run.
Nowadays, a high-profile playlist placement can feel like a coronation for a rising artist. Making it into the coveted New Music Friday Spotify playlist alongside the latest releases from A-listers and buzzworthy acts can drastically raise one’s profile, and a new tool from the streaming service is seeking to open up that career-making potential to a wider crop of candidates.
The tool, which allows artists and labels to submit unreleased music directly to Spotify’s editorial team for playlist consideration, is officially launching after a successful beta run that saw over 67,000 artists make use of the feature and more than 10,000 be added to editorial playlists on the platform.
Portland duo Small Million submitted their music after learning about the new feature from a friend, and said they did so without expectations. Their single "Young Fools" wound up appearing on the Mellow Morning playlist alongside acts like Leon Bridges and Mitski and the track currently has more than 230,000 plays.
"We initially heard about the playlist submission feature from some other artist friends who posted about it on Facebook. Then when we noticed the tool was available on our Spotify for Artists dashboard we hopped right on it," said band member Malachi Graham. "We really weren’t sure what would come of it, but we were excited for the chance to get the song out there for consideration without needing to have our own personal connection to a label or Spotify curators."
Valley Hush, an L.A. based indie pop outfit, submitted their music and ended up having the track "Letting a Flower Die" appear on New Music Friday, one of the platform’s most heavily trafficked playlists. They said that within a week of the placement they were fielding calls from interested labels. The group, who has released music both independently through a distribution service and through a label, said that the ability to submit for playlist consideration as an indie artist is something that they will factor into their decision-making going forwards.
"We’ve spoken to a few labels since this stuff happened, which has been really cool, but again, it’s always a question when you’re speaking with a label of "What can we do for each other?" said Alex Kaye. "And these lines keep getting blurred, like with what happened to us just now. We did this totally independent and we got on that playlist, and I’m sure there are some labels that can’t really [do that], so it put a lot more of the control and power into our hands."
Singer Jayden Bartels released her song "Can’t Help Me Now," which has earned more than 550,000 streams since appearing on New Music Friday. She’s gearing up to release a follow-up track, and says that she will "100 percent" be submitting it for playlist consideration.
The playlist submission feature is one of several tools Spotify is planning to roll out geared at newer and independent artists. They also have intentions to let indie artists upload directly to the platform, and are working with popular distributor DistroKid to develop the technology. They’ve also been consulting with prominent indie musicians like Noname and Michael Brun while working on the technology.
Increasingly, playlists are becoming one of the de facto ways that listeners happen upon new artists. While Spotify has faced some criticism that its listeners are more concerned with mood than artists and albums, Small Million’s Graham notes that she sees value in hearing how different artists approach the same emotion.
"I’ve alternated between being a big fan of the album as a listening mechanism and hearing a track in context as an artist intended, but I also think as people are releasing more singles that I love hearing a well curated playlist that can take you through a similar emotional feeling, but see how different artists have approached that," Graham explained. "I really appreciate that kind of curation. It reminds me more of the days of radio, where you’d have a DJ whose tastes you really liked. It’s just sort of a different angle on music."