A new industry maxim should be to judge a streaming service by how much traction it is getting among playlisters. Recently Kieron Donoghue (VP of playlists strategy and curation at Warner Music) tweeted that he was building some Apple Music playlists. Chris Price (@chrispricey) asked him which playlist brand this was for and he revealed that it was for Topsify. A little bit of digging around on Apple Music reveals that at all three of the major labels’ playlisting brands – Topsify (Warner), Filtr (Sony) and THIS IS (Universal) – have just been listed on the service and they are currently populating their sections.
Towards the bottom of the Filtr list, for example, there are six unfilled categories titled “Placeholder 1” through to “Placeholder 6”, suggesting this is still very much a work in progress.
The main playlists on Filtr include “New Music”, “New R&B”, “New Dance” and “New Pop” alongside ones for running and other mood-based collections (“Sunny Afternoon”, “Smooth Operator”). Most incredibly there is one called “I Drank A Jar Of Coffee & I Took Some Of These” (lyrics from The Fall’s ‘Totally Wired’, fact-fans) that includes songs like ‘White Rabbit’, ‘Little Fluffy Clouds’ and ‘Hash Pipe’. (Music Ally is quite innocent and has no idea what any of this could possibly be referring to.)
The Topsify lists include “Topsify UK Rock Top 40”, “Topsify UK Dance Top 40”, “Topsify New Music Fridays” and “Summer Pop Party”. THIS IS, meanwhile, is focused entirely on dance music, with playlists including “THIS IS Raving”, “THS IS Deep House” and “THIS IS Dance Floor”.
Given that most major label playlisting activity to date has focused around Spotify as a clear priority (with some activity on Deezer and Rdio etc.), this appears to be a significant backing of Apple Music as a platform a month after it went live. On the Topsify website, for example, there is a link to “Listen in Spotify” but no mention at all of Apple Music. Equally with Filtr, there is an embedded Spotify player but nothing for Apple Music. The story is the same on THIS IS, with ‘Follow’ and ‘Listen’ buttons for Spotify and a buy button linking to iTunes for downloads.
It is possible that the majors have planned this strategy for some time. Equally it could be that they have looked at the initial usage data from Apple Music in its opening weeks and decided to throw considerable promotional weight behind it.
It is not clear when a marketing and promotional push for these Apple Music playlists will go live. Music Ally contacted Sony Music and Warner Music to get a comment on this but neither was prepared to speak on the record or confirm any details about them just yet. A source at Universal, however, informed us that the THIS IS brand is “launching imminently” on Apple Music. We will update this story as and when we get more information.
The indie labels do not, for now, have a single playlisting brand like the majors do, but this is something that Sammy Andrews (head of digital at Cooking Vinyl) has been calling for. “Whilst I can’t go into details at this stage, I am happy to confirm we’re in the process of finalising details for an indie playlist brand, yes,” she told Music Ally. “There was an overwhelming response to my call to action at AIM Music Connected [earlier this year]. And, yes, I am also glad to confirm that it’s been made clear to us that this offering from Apple is not just for the majors. Watch this space.”
(This story was amended on 30th July to include reference to THIS IS and Universal Music.)