Spotify has moved to formalise the process by which major and independent labels pitch for slots in the Browse section of its service, with a quota-based system applying to global and local playlists.

The move comes after longtime discussion within the industry about the extent to which Spotify promotes its own in-house curated playlists over those from label brands (like Digster, Filtr and Topsify) and independent curators.

The new system at least creates a more transparent structure for the former group, with Universal, Sony, Warner and independent labels (through Merlin) getting a set amount of slots to pitch playlists for, which hopefully will give those playlists a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.

There have been grumbles about the length of time that labels have had to prepare their playlists for the changes, although Music Ally understands that both sides have been working hard to smooth the process of submissions, which is still ongoing at the time of writing.

Music Ally has also heard complaints from some labels about their playlists tumbling down Spotify’s search rankings – showing up much lower when listeners search for a specific genre or mood keyword – while the playlist-pitching process was changing.

An example of Spotify whipping away visibility with one hand while seemingly offering it with the other? The nature of the search issues – several labels report playlists bouncing back up the rankings a few days after falling – points more to (likely unplanned) issues with search that aren’t just affecting third-party playlists.

Labels will, of course, be watching carefully to see how the Browse changes affect the followings of their playlists, as well as the streams that those playlists are generating. Metrics that will be just as keenly-followed by Spotify itself.

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Stuart Dredge

Music Ally's Head of Insight

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