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The power of smaller playlists. Why big is not always best.


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*This topic was discussed in-depth on Music Ally TV. Watch the show in full here

 

In a world where the playlist is king, it is hardly surprising that getting on New Music Friday (NMF) has become the be-all and end-all of music streaming marketing, an opportunity to get your track in front of 8m people worldwide, including the vast majority of the Western music industry. 

And yet perhaps it shouldn’t be. Getting your song to 8m people isn’t so great if they immediately want to skip it – something that apparently happened to one global star’s new song earlier this year on New Music Friday – and some marketers have even started to warn managers and artists off their NMF addiction. 

“Tracks on there [NMF] have a very high skip rate,” says Amelie Bonvalot, a freelance digital business executive. “It’s nice to get on there, it’s a nice ego thing: the editors at Spotify are showing their support. But I think New Music Friday really isn’t what is moving the needle. Featuring on other, smaller playlists is a good way to work your way up and find your audience, especially if you are a new artist. Some people don’t understand that it can work against you and it can be difficult to convince them.” 

With this in mind, Music Ally asked three playlist experts to point us in the direction of the best under-the-radar playlists that you should be pitching to in 2020. 

 

➜ Chartmetric 

Chartmetric’s contribution comes in two parts: firstly, the Chartmetric team revealed what they see as the most interesting playlisting/curation “brands” at the moment; secondly, they used the new Chartmetric Playlist Journey tool to identify “small playlists which seem to have an uncanny ability to add tracks prior to the tracks appearing on some of the largest Spotify playlists”. “The Playlist Journey tool is looking for tracks that land on small playlists before they are added to a large editorial playlist – and we specifically look at the number of days before a track is added to the larger playlist,” says Chaz Jenkins, Chartmetric’s chief commercial officer. “So, 90% of tracks currently on Baila Reggaeton were previously added to New Reggaeton Friday [2020] before they first appeared on Baila Reggaeton, in some instances by as much as 87 days in advance. And New Dance Music 2020 – New EDM 2020 – Electronica Now – Reddit EDM adds tracks as much as six months before they first appear on Mint.” 

 

Chartmetric’s most interesting playlisting/curation brands 

Indiemono ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: Regeton [sic] 2020 Exitos del Verano 2020 381,905 followers 

What it is: An independent playlisting monster which works “to bring you the most special stuff we find, those hidden little gems that still can get you all hyped up and kept unnoticed all the time”. Indie/ alternative music is its core, but its top playlist is a reggaeton hits round up, while among its 160 Spotify playlists you will also find everything from melodic house to “sad chill hop”. It also has a presence on Deezer, YouTube and Apple Music. Indiemono uses its own free music submission tool, as well as a “quick submit” for those who support it on Patreon. It also runs a digital label and curation service. 

Colors ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: Colors – All Shows 171,489 followers 

What it is: a “unique aesthetic music platform showcasing exceptional talent from all around the globe” best known for its hugely popular – 4.3m subscribers and 1bn total views – YouTube channel, where artists perform in front of a background of one distinct colour. Its Spotify presence mirrors this: its main playlist features all the recordings from its YouTube channel in their exclusive glory, while Jade (smooth), Ruby (the Function), Amber (groove) and Cream (rhymes & beats) playlists showcase different types of music. Colors has its own submission platform. 

MrSuicideSheep ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: MrSuicideSheepFavourites 315,749 followers 

What it is: MrSuicideSheep is a popular Canadian YouTube channel that covers new, mostly electronic, music with a penchant for elaborate artwork and wavy electronica. It has 12.2m subscribers on YouTube and over 5.4bn global views. On Spotify, MrSuicideSheep operates nine playlists at the time of writing, with the MrSuicideSheepFavourites being far and away the most popular. Users can submit their music and artwork via a dedicated submission portal. MrSuicideSheep also runs the label Seeking Blue Records, home to the likes of Jaron, Echos and Dead Battery, while the online MrSuicideSheep store offers a tasteful range of merchandise. 

Simon Field ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: IBIZA 2020 336,656 followers 

What it is: Simon Field is a DJ/producer from Norway. More interesting for our purposes, however, is the fact that Field launched what he claims was the first Ibiza playlist on Spotify, a playlist currently operating under the SEO-friendly name of “IBIZA 2020 Deep House Mix, Ocean Beach, Nassau Beach, Amnesia, Space Ibiza, Ushuaia, Chill House”, which has an impressive 337k followers. He also operates the more modest Ibiza Classics playlist, with 2,669 followers. You can only submit tracks to Field via his website – simonfield.no – which proudly proclaims: “Submission to Ibiza 2020 is not on Submithub, PlaylistPush or any other services.” To do so, you have to follow him on Spotify – which seems entirely logical – and he claims to listen to every submission he receives, even if he doesn’t give feedback. 

Songpickr ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: 2020Songpickr – Indie, Folk, Soul, Americana, Blues, Rock 128,772 followers 

What it is: “Playlists curated with love. I try to find a warm, organic, timeless sound in today’s music,” according to founder Holger Christoph. His most popular playlist (2020Songpickr – Indie, Folk, Soul, Americana, Blues, Rock) gives you a good idea of what to expect. He also operates Jazz Café; Americana & Alternative Country – Songpickr Guide; and SXSW 2020 What We Missed This Year on Spotify; and Best Songs 2020 – Songpickr Guide (Americana, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Indie, Soul, Blues) on Apple Music. “All Songpickr activities are 100% independent,” Christoph writes. “Music picks and featured artists reflect my personal taste (which is not for sale).” He recommends getting in touch via social media (Facebook/Instagram/Twitter) and submitting music via Submithub. His Submithub pages ask for Englishlanguage music exclusively, adding, “No commercial pop music, designed for the charts. No remixes, no live versions, no instrumentals. I prefer uplifting, positive songs vs sad songs.” 

La Belle Musique ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: La Belle Musique/ YouTube (Uploads Compilation) 51,465 followers What it is: A French YouTube channel, record label and occasional promoter that likes “discovering… young talented artists and new fresh music that we like”, principally in the realm of downtempo electronica. Their YouTube channel is massive, with 1.76m subscribers, 515m lifetime views and a penchant for vertical lyrics videos and their biggest Spotify playlist reflects the selection on YouTube, albeit with far fewer uploads. You can submit music by Submithub or music promotion service Soundicate Promotion Group. Other Spotify playlists include Best Of The Week (15,942 follows) and Summer Memories (7,182) and they also operate an official SoundCloud account with 166k followers. 

See also… 

Got Dembow ➜ LINK 

Biggest playlist: Top Reggaeton [2020] 18,059 followers 

What it is: Got Dembow wasn’t one of the curation brands identified by the Chartmetric team. But the brand’s New Reggaeton Friday [2020] playlist showed up twice in the reports of their Playlist Journey tool, which identifies the playlists that have a significant crossover with Spotify’s largest playlists. Got Dembow’s New Reggaeton Friday [2020] has a 90% crossover with Spotify’s Baila Reggaeton playlist (9.9m followers) and 68% crossover with ¡Viva Latino! (10.6m followers), which makes it of significant interest for anyone operating in those fields. Got Dembow is a US operation that claims to be “the home of Reggaeton’s rising stars, unsigned hype and underground artists”. It operates a YouTube channel with 145k subscribers, SoundCloud and website (gotdembow. net) alongside its 22 Spotify playlists. Got Dembow says you can submit music via its website contact page although that doesn’t appear to work. Its email (gotdembowyt@ gmail.com) might be a better bet. 

 

Playlists from the Chartmetric Playlist Journey tool

In this exclusive research for Music Ally, Chartmetric used its Playlist Journey tool to identify playlists that have a significant crossover with some of Spotify’s largest playlists. “Whether these playlists influence Spotify playlists directly is almost impossible to say – and the only person who can answer that question is the editor of the Spotify playlist in question!” says Chartmetric’s Chaz Jenkins. 

“What is more interesting is whether these playlists: 1) indirectly influence the Spotify playlist as part of wider promotion; or 2) accurately predict what will land on a playlist, and thereby be useful as an A&R trigger, or a source of investment insight.” 

 

Rap Caviar

25% crossover: Fire Emoji: Daily Hot New Rap and Hip Hop ➜ LINK

23% crossover: Iceberg Radio ➜ LINK

22% crossover: RapNieuwsTV ENG ➜ LINK 

¡Viva Latino!

68% crossover: New Reggaeton Friday [2020] ➜ LINK

Baila Reggaeton

90% crossover: New Reggaeton Friday [2020] ➜ LINK

73% crossover: Trap Reggaeton ➜ LINK

63% crossover: Novedades Reggaeton 2020 ➜ LINK 

Get Turnt

22% crossover: NEW MUSIC 2020: Trap Music/Club Hip Hop ➜ LINK 

Hot Country

62% crossover: 2020- US-Country-MusicCharts & Top-Songs (American Country) ➜ LINK

48% crossover: New Country 2020 Top Hits Weekly ➜ LINK

Mint

46% crossover: New Dance Music 2020 – New EDM 2020 – Electronica Now – Reddit EDM ➜ LINK

 

➜ Justin Barker, Slice Music

Barker is the founder of Slice Music, which offers streaming strategy consultancy for the music industry, as well as a former group director of streaming strategy at PIAS. He has worked with playlists for the best part of a decade. 

He focused on third-party playlists in his recommendations. “The way to look at third-party playlists is basically the same as looking at editorial playlists, in the sense that there won’t be any one playlist that will take everything to one huge streaming level,” he says. “It is a question of getting on as many of them as possible. When I was actively pitching to third-party playlists, we would be drawing up targets of third-party playlists that were 80+.” 

He outlined two of the most interesting third-party playlists for Music Ally. 

EDM Hits 2020 ➜ LINK 209,310 followers 

What it is: A collection of the biggest EDM hits, curated by one Christoffer Brants, that is updated weekly. At the time of writing, the list is home to Kygo, MEDUZA and Martin Garrix, alongside lesser-known acts. Music should be submitted via Brants’ Instagram or Facebook. Brants also curates three more playlists on Spotify: Ibiza Lounge 2020 (8,340 followers), Avicii – TIM (30 followers) and Summer 2020 (42 followers). 

As for Brants himself, not a great deal of public information exists: he lives in Gothenburg and works, if LinkedIn is to be believed, as an engineer on Gothenburg’s trams, after graduating from university in 2014. 

Majestic Casual ➜ LINK 466,063 followers 

What it is: Majestic Casual is one of the biggest channels for electronic music on YouTube, with 4.3m subscribers and 1.9bn lifetime views. It also has its own record label and sells a fairly charming range of merchandise. Its main Spotify playlist reflects – but doesn’t mimic – its YouTube playlist and is updated weekly. It goes big on Kaytranada and Mura Masa. You can submit music via a dedicated form. “Not everything that Majestic Casual adds to their YouTube playlist goes onto Spotify,” says Barker. “So when pitching to them, you should be having a cross-platform conversation.” In total, Majestic Casual runs 18 playlists on Spotify but none even come close to the popularity of its main playlist. 

 

Label playlists 

Barker also recommends label playlists. “It might be slightly counterintuitive, but actually many labels, especially dance labels like Anjunabeats, Armada and Ministry Of Sound operate in-house playlists that do have space for tracks that aren’t on their own labels,” he says. “Some have space on their main playlists and some operate separate ‘recommended’- style lists that are more specifically geared to other labels’ tracks – though not exclusively, obviously.” 

 

➜ Amelie Bonvalot’s guide to the biggest under-the-radar playlists from Spotify and Apple Music 

Amelie Bonvalot, now a freelance digital business executive, has a decade of experience in the digital music, including three years as senior director of digital accounts for Kobalt Music and, most recently, head of digital at Domino. 

She listed the most important under-the-radar editorial playlists on Spotify and Apple Music by genre, focusing on UK lists but adding a number of interesting playlists from around the world. 

“As a new artist you should be thinking about other territories,” she says 

Pop 

Easy ➜ LINK 367,300 followers 

New Pop Revolution ➜ LINK 166,761 followers 

“They are very good and accept a lot of new artists. They have a lot fewer followers [than New Music Friday], but they do drive a decent amount of streams and usually they are also where editors watch.” 

See also… Off Pop (DE); Pop Edge (AU) Indie 

Hot New Bands ➜ LINK 45,999 followers 

The Other List ➜ LINK 114,393 followers 

Transistor ➜ LINK 79,833 followers 

See also… Gegen den Strom (DE); Indie du Kender (DE); Melancolia Indie (MX); Indielandia (MX); Indie Shuffle (Singapore) 

Dance/electronic 

Altar ➜ LINK 209,350 followers 

The Dance Tent ➜ LINK 27,851 followers “The Dance Tent has pop, electronic, dance tracks that are usually working well around the festival season. So I don’t know what will happen to it this year….” 

See also… Top Shelf Electronic (AU) Urban / R&B / Soul “In the UK it can be quite hard to get access to these playlists but you have some in the Nordics that work well.” 

Certi (Nordics) ➜ LINK 136,232 followers 

Liiit (Nordics) ➜ LINK 77,889 followers 

See also… It’s Lit (NL); Vibes (NL); Soul N The City (NL) Mood playlists 

A Perfect Day ➜ LINK 691,923 followers 

The Most Beautiful Songs In The World ➜ LINK 2,124,474 followers 

Running UK ➜ LINK 280,710 followers 

Your Office Stereo ➜ LINK 168,813 followers 

“You tend to stick in these playlists for a lot longer than you would in a genre or new release playlist. You can stay for up to six months. And you can see a spike in streams. If your work fits in the mood you can fit on the playlist. The only downside is that it is a more passive listen. It drives streams, but it’s not the best way to find an audience.” 

See also… Apero (FR); Weekend + Friends (AU)

 

Apple Music playlists 

Loops (Electronic) 

Untitled (Alternative) 

Midnight City (Indie / Alternative) 

Breaking Dance Groove (Dance / Electronic) 

Breaking Pop In My Room (Pop / R&B) 

Mellow Days (Pop) 

The Plug (Urban) 

New Fire (Urban / R&B) 

The New Rock Kebab On The Night Bus (Alternative/Rock)

Music Ally

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