Show.co, the music marketing services platform that CD Baby acquired last year, announced today that it has enabled “pre-save” Spotify campaigns, allowing artists’ fans to save upcoming releases to their Spotify library ahead of release day.
Over the past year, several major artists have leveraged pre-saves as part of their album rollouts, including Kendrick Lamar, Avicii, Liam Payne, Miley Cyrus and Fifth Harmony. Show.co’s announcement expands access to this feature to the DIY community by opening up pre-saves to all CD Baby artists for free; non-CD Baby artists can also build pre-save campaigns through Show.co’s marketing services, which cost up to $9 a month.
Pre-saves are the streaming analog to album pre-sales, and are particularly effective for streaming fans who may have previously been downloaders, and who demand the same anticipatory mechanisms in their music consumption experience. Record labels tend to devote much of their Spotify marketing attention to encouraging fans to save songs to their collections after listening to those songs on an already-existing playlist, but such behavior is ultimately reactive rather than proactive when it comes to gauging interest in upcoming releases.
For artist teams, the biggest selling point for pre-saves is their ability to boost first-week streaming activity, which remains an important challenge for artists across all career stages. Not only are first-week sales still an essential factor in calculating global consumption charts and in booking late-night TV and festival slots, but early Spotify activity also drives placement on algorithmic playlists like Discover Weekly and Release Radar, which can later filter up to Spotify’s human-curated flagship playlists like RapCaviar.
Skepticism around the efficacy of pre-save campaigns stems from how they remain album-centric in a consumption era arguably driven more by singles than by EPs. Nonetheless, since it encourages proactive activity, pre-saving an album sends a stronger signal of enthusiastic fandom. James Farrelly, digital strategy manager at Ministry of Sound, explained to Music Ally that pre-saves are effective “if you have a band that is very album-focused, and you have an audience that is looking to consume an album beyond just a passing interest in whatever singles they’re putting out.”
Since pre-saves are currently not built into Spotify’s own platform, third-party marketing services like Show.co must build their own pre-save capabilities atop Spotify’s API, which lets content owners add releases to users’ libraries with authorization from said users. Show.co is not the first marketing service to offer pre-saves — Kobalt introduced its own pre-save technology in November 2016, followed by Metablocks in February 2017 — but Show.co is the only such service that doesn’t require launching a second “save” campaign post-release.
While pre-saves aren’t yet possible for competitors like Apple Music and Tidal, Show.co is staying abreast of any updates to these services’ APIs and is “always looking for ways to incorporate those changes and upgrades into Show.co’s tools,” Rebecca Bateman, senior marketing manager at CD Baby, said in a statement. “Our goal is for this to be a best-in-class service for audience-building campaigns, turning them into real revenue generating opportunities for musicians.”