Inside Spotify's New Fresh Finds Program For Indie Artist Development

Courtesy of Spotify

The Fresh Finds playlist hub, centered on discovery and promotion of independent artists, is now offering even more hands-on assistance -- while also expanding to 13 new regions.

Five years ago, Spotify launched its Fresh Finds playlist hub for early discovery across genres. The uniting force? All featured acts are independent.

The flagship playlist alone (one of 10 under the hub) has since featured 25,000 artists, many of whom went on to become established names from Clairo to Omar Apollo to 100 gecs and more.

Today (May 26), Spotify has now announced the next evolution of Fresh Finds: a development program for independent artists. The program is centered on three pillars including education and access to resources, creative collaboration and marketing support.

“Fresh Finds is an incredibly strong, explicit vehicle for independent artists,” says Jeff Stempeck, Spotify’s Artist and Label Partnerships’ Head of Indies. “It's this entry point for the entire Spotify ecosystem and once you get on other Spotify playlists there's all kinds of subsequent things that can open up doors for an artist's career. It’s that ripple effect.”

According to the DSP, after an artist appears on Fresh Finds their average monthly listeners increase by 108% in the 28 following the placement compared to the 28 days before. And for artists whose first Spotify editorial playlist is Fresh Finds, over 44% are later added to another editorial playlist, leading to increased exposure over time.

For its inauguration, Spotify selected four artists aimed to represent gender, racial and genre diversity. There’s bedroom pop artist Wallice, experimental R&B singer Unusual Demont, alternative-pop artist Julia Wolf and pop-rock rapper EKKSTACY, all of whom were selected based on a “combination of data and gut on the editorial side,” says Stempeck. “It's definitely editorially led, but like any good A&R we're also looking at off-platform data too and seeing if that growth is real, are they creating real fandom across socials and follower accounts?”

In terms of education and access, each artist will participate in personalized Masterclasses and receive credits to use on Spotify for Artists resources like Marquee and the Canvas designer category on Soundbetter among other tools. To help bolster collaboration, Spotify’s Songwriter & Publishing Noteable team has paired each artist with a producer -- Wallice will work with longtime collaborator marinelli and Ariel Rechtshaid, Unusual Demont will work with The Idiot, Julia Wolf with Jackson Foote and EKKSTACY with The Drums’ Jonny Pierce. By June, each artist will release an original song under the Spotify Singles banner which will be promoted using new skills they learn in the program, from on-and-off platform campaigns to Spotify Clips as well as participating in a social media documentary series.

Plus, today Spotify will also launch 13 new regional Fresh Finds playlists in countries including Brazil, Malaysia, Italy, South Korea and Turkey in an effort to help emerging independent artists develop a global fanbase.

While the development program has plans to continue, the priority for now is helping this class of four artists leave with more tools in their kit than they came with. “Every artist has a different long-term goal,” says Stempeck. “Some might want to stay fully independent and be able to build their own career and do everything themselves and have that control over every piece. Other artists might want to use this as a launching pad to sign a deal with an independent or a major label. I don't think we try to step in on any of that. It's more so about giving them the tools to sustain the success and keep building on it and to find their audience.”

“It's not just that immediate spike,” he continues, “it's that learning and applying this stuff long term. That's the biggest success metric.”