August 23, 2016:10 things you need to know about streaming playlist data

This guest column for Music Ally is from Sammy Andrews, director at Entertainment Intelligence.

“Many labels are now accessing streaming playlist data for their artists, releases and catalogue for the first time.

As part of our work developing a suite of tools for distributors, labels, artists and managers to dig in to this data, we’ve learned some lessons and debunked some myths about what you can expect to discover from playlist data.

Here are 10 of the key points.

Sammy Andrews

1. All is not what (or where) it seems

Drilling down into playlist geo-data can prove fruitful, and often surprising. Our tools can filter by country to view playlist-streaming figures at the territorial level.

Most labels we speak to wrongly assume that if they’re on a playlist originating in, say France, that all those streams will be from that territory, but this is absolutely not the case.

This information is useful for many reasons – the ability to identify what might have sparked a spike; utilised for future release pitching; and to target those locations and listeners again with follow up tracks. You can also drill down further to reveal age and gender demographics in these specific territories.

2. Radio performing off the airwaves

We are increasingly seeing radio playlists featuring in the top 20 stream drivers for new tracks.

Why is this important? If you land on a playlist at, say, British radio station 6Music, and you’re then added to its official playlist on a streaming service, this drives additional revenue as well as promotional value.

This isn’t just the case for UK stations: we are starting to see the same results in all markets – Triple J lists in Australia, for example. It’s particularly useful for new bands and new music.

TERRITORY BREAK DOWN

3. Branded playlists can make an impact

Ignore these at your peril. Whilst it’s true to say that for now service-owned playlists are outperforming brand-owned ones, we still see brand lists appearing in the top 20 playlists for certain releases.

This could be anything from Nike’s running lists, to one of the major label-owned brands like Filtr or Topsify, but they’re certainly there and some of them are driving significant numbers.

Playlists generating additional revenue beyond their original placements include things like official game and film lists – for instance, one of FIFA’s playlists is driving significant stream figures for one track we’ve been monitoring.

4. Don’t get too excited about follower counts

For many years I’ve been suggesting that follower counts for individual playlists don’t necessarily correlate to an increase in streams. We now have proof of this.

Often the number one playlist for a track is not the list with the most followers, sometimes by a significant difference in numbers.

It’s proof that quality and not quantity is the key to good curation. Of course, a larger list with a greater number of followers will boost your numbers if it’s a good one – but that’s where careful analysis will allow you to identify if this the case.

5. The swell, and riding that wave

We are starting to see clear correlations between track inclusion on one list and the swell out to others. This could be down to several factors, but following the patterns we see that the listeners and followers of those lists are replicating new additions.

If a trendsetting playlist curator sees a track in another influential list that works well, they are often then placing them in their own. This naturally inflates streaming numbers and leads to a great swell of streams.

We have also observed several in-house playlists showing track inclusion at a similar time to when tracks are seeded out to multiple lists during a service and brand-pitching process.

SPOTIFY PLAYLIST EXAMPLE DEMOGRAPHICS

6. Back up your plans with facts not fiction

Once you’re accessing playlisting data you are very well equipped to present this information to streaming services and marketing teams alike

For example: if in Australia you can see your track getting a large amount of love and streams from a specific genre, activity or mood of playlist – perhaps “Chill”, “Calm”, “Focus”, etc – you can then present this information to different vendors and different territories, to help you gain inclusion on their similar playlists.

7. Playlists have sync potential

The above data leads us on to the sync potential here. Sync agents and music supervisors are using playlists and streaming services to identify tracks for film, TV and ad placement.

When you start to see a trend in playlist inclusion – the same moods, themes and genres – you can use this information to help secure those deals!

8. Understand your audience

Some labels have long been able to view which day of the week certain artists and tracks are popular. For instance, I worked for a big EDM band whose tracks were, unsurprisingly, played most often on Thursday, Friday and Saturday, but Sunday brought tumble weeds.

In contrast a well-known folk band I worked with saw Sunday as their biggest play day. These patterns are immediately apparent in playlist consumption and as you may have now guessed, different lists perform better on different days.

“Friday Night Bangers” and “Sunday Coffee and a Paper” are obvious starting places, but think beyond that to club-curated lists and moods and you will start seeing incredible waves of people listening to certain lists at certain times and on specific days, every week.

ALBUM LEVEL PLAYLIST ANALYSIS

9. Who else is on the list?

So you’ve got onto a bunch of great playlists, what next? Taking a look at your top-performing ones for specific territories can guide all manner of digital targeting.

We’re starting to see some patterns in which artists are also included. If you dig in to the top 20, you may see one specific artist included on 90% of the playlists that yours is on. Their fanbase may be worth a punt with a few targeted adverts.

10. Know who your listeners are and when you’ve struck gold

Along with all playlist analytics can show you where people are, what devices they’re listening on, how old they and much more (depending which service it is, some vendors offer more data than others).

Knowing whose ears you are reaching can help advise off on platform marketing campaigns to help further raise and reinforce your artists profile amongst those demographics.

The new gold in our industry are “Save to Library” stats: knowing when a playlist inclusion resulted in a ton of listeners adding your track to their own collection.

Collection conversion will truly identify the power that playlists have had on your business. Looking at discovery or repeat plays is great, but once in a user’s own library they will hopefully play your tracks again and again and again, resulting in a lifetime of revenue (we hope!).

It’s still a bit of a dark art and there are many caveats and external factors to consider but being able to see patterns form and make reasonable assumptions can show you the true value of the playlists your track has been included in.”

For more on the stream and audience analysis tools offered by Entertainment Intelligence, see the company’s website.

Music Ally
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