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Spotify adds feature for pitching unreleased music to its playlist curators


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Spotify has added a new feature to its back-end: the ability for artists and labels to submit unreleased songs for “playlist consideration” by its in-house team of curators.

The feature goes live today in beta, as part of the company’s Spotify for Artists and Spotify Analytics tools. Spotify says that any artist, label, manager or team member with access to these tools will be able to choose one unreleased song to submit.

“It’s important to give us as much information about the track as possible — genre, mood, and other data points all help us make decisions about where it may fit. You can note the instruments on it, whether it’s a cover, and the cultures you or the song belong to. The data you share will be complemented by what we already know about you — what else your fans listen to, what other playlists you’ve appeared on, etc,” explained Spotify in a blog post this afternoon.

“Editors will be searching through submissions based on the information you share to find unreleased music to consider for their playlists,” promised the company. An important point is that this feature isn’t *just* about pitching to playlists: it’s also a way for Spotify to considerably increase the metadata it’s getting around tracks – a long-running pain point for streaming services and artists alike.

The new pre-release submission system will also filter in to Spotify’s algorithmic playlists. “For example, as long as you tag and submit your track seven days in advance, the song you select will automatically appear in every one of your followers’ Release Radar playlists,” explained the blog post. “This way you have control over which single you’re promoting to your fans.”

Spotify says that more than 75,000 artists are featured in its editorial playlists every week, with another 150,000 appearing on its Discover Weekly algo-personalised playlist. The company also said today that artists are streamed on Spotify by listeners who’ve never heard them before 10bn times a month – with 5bn of those streams coming through Spotify’s human-curated and algorithmic playlists.

There remain some questions around the new feature. How easy will it really be for Spotify’s editors to cope with what could potentially be a vast influx of submitted tracks? Will artists pursuing a ‘double-drop’ strategy (think Ed Sheeran releasing ‘Shape of You’ and ‘Castle on the Hill’ on the same day) have to choose just one of them for playlist consideration?

(In truth, artists at Sheeran’s level will surely continue to have their tracks pitched in to Spotify through face-to-face meetings rather than the new online system, which seems tuned more for the longer tail of Spotify’s artist community.)

We’ll also be keen to see what kind of feedback, if any, artists get on their submissions, in terms of notifications of their tracks being added to particular playlists – or even confirmation that their songs have been listened to by an editor at all.

Even so, today’s news is a reminder – if you needed it – that the competition between Spotify and its rivals in the music-streaming world is not just about the features they offer for music listeners. Richer analytics, more-useful on-platform marketing features and more ways to interact with curators all have a role to play in this environment.

Alternative conspiracy theory, for those so-minded: Spotify’s new playlist-pitching submission system could be seen as an excellent pipeline of music from talented unsigned artists, given the recent reports about Spotify’s growing interest in direct licensing deals with emerging acts…

Stuart Dredge

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