According to Chartmetric, Spotify boasts over 270k+ curators, 1.1m+ playlists and 8.6k+ self-curated playlists, providing a fertile ground for playlist pitching. While editorial playlist placements on Spotify are notoriously competitive and dealt with exclusively via Spotify for Artists, figuring out how to get an artist’s independent playlist strategy right (e.g. by brands, labels, curators or users) is timeconsuming research.
There are a few challenges connected to the third party playlist ecosystem. Firstly, we tend to judge a playlist’s viability by its number of followers, as this is the only direct engagement metric we can evaluate before being placed on it. Secondly, a whole industry has been created around charging money for guaranteed placement on independent playlists. (Sandbox would like to add here that any artist should avoid paying a service for guaranteed playlist placements.)
Spotify is known to crack down on curators and artists engaging in this practice and it can often result in fake streams, which will mess with an artist’s algorithmic trajectory in the long run. Thirdly, playlist follower numbers are often artificially inflated and provide no insight into how active the followers of this playlist are, in terms of listening to it.
Belgian software developer Julien Mahin created www.isitagoodplaylist.com as a response to this lack of insight into how engaged a playlist truly is. It’s a free tool designed to analyse if a Spotify playlist has real listeners and how much it is contributing to an artist’s discovery on the platform. Mahin explains: “Spotify does not share publicly the number of listeners of the playlist. The only way for you to know if a playlist has listeners is to be added in the playlist and then check how many streams you received in Spotify for Artists.”
His new website, therefore, is supposed to save time and effort pitching to playlists that don’t drive listenership. Mahin has developed multiple music industry-focused tools before, such as a historical tracker of the Beatport Top, Spotify, and Apple Music charts, and the playlist tracker ‘Spot On Track’ (in collaboration with industry professionals). He develops these projects often purely as a music fan and based on his own needs.
IsItAGoodPlaylist.com is based on the ‘Discovered On’ data on Spotify, displayed on each artist’s ‘About’ section. Here, Spotify displays up to five playlists that brought the highest number of listeners to the artist. Previously, Spotify also provided information on the number of unique listeners accumulated from each of these playlists, but – perhaps in an effort to decrease engagement with third party playlist marketing – the company ceased doing so in January this year.
The website retrieves data from ‘Discovered On’ and looks into the Monthly Listeners metric of the artists on the playlist you’re interested in. (Monthly Listeners is the number of users that have listened to at least one song from that artist in the last 28 days.)
By simply entering a playlist link (there’s no registration needed) and hitting ‘Analyze’, IsItAGoodPlaylist.com uses the ‘Discovered On’ and Monthly Listeners data points to judge if a playlist has a good amount of listeners or not. The results show a list of artists, their monthly listeners number, their position in the playlist, and the rank amongst the ‘Discovered On’ playlists.
If the playlist appears in no artist’s ‘Discovered On’ list, there is a high chance that the playlist doesn’t have many active listeners – and you could save time and effort by pitching to other playlists. On the other hand, if your chosen playlist appears in the ‘Discovered On’ list for several artists, it can be an indicator of a playlist with a good amount of active listeners.
By assessing whether the artist has a high number of monthly listeners, and if the playlist is ranking high for this artist, we can get an idea of how much listenership it is driving and thus if it’s worth pitching to. Mahin explains that “You also have to pay attention to the position of the song in the playlist. Songs at the top of the playlist tend to have more plays than the songs at the bottom”.
IsItAGoodPlaylist.com currently tracks the Top 10 ‘Discovered On’ playlists for each artist. It’s important to be thoughtful with what kind of playlists you’ll be looking at. An independent playlist full of blockbuster artists has a low chance of appearing in the ‘Discovered On’ section for an artist like Cardi B or Justin Bieber. Instead, it’s better to use Spotify’s search bar to find well-curated non-Spotify playlists featuring up-and-coming artists who may have never, or rarely, been playlisted in Spotify’s editorial playlists. If a playlist like this ranks in an up-and-coming artist’s ‘Discovered On’ list, and the artist has a substantial amount of monthly listeners, you could have a good playlist to work with.
The tool launched less than a month ago, but according to Mahin, has already received great feedback. Ideas from this feedback will be integrated as features into the platform – such as displaying the number of days a song has been on a playlist, and highlighting which artists are on a playlist that does not feature in their ‘Discovered On’ list. Mahin says that’s important because, “if an artist has a very small count of Monthly Listeners, but none of them comes from the playlist, this is information you want to know as well.” He’s also working on a free weekly newsletter featuring a list of playlists accepting submissions. “Those playlists will, of course, be manually selected and approved and will match our quality requirements,” – which are, “good playlists, with real listeners, not only filled with payola songs.”
Chartmetric probably has the broadest and most advanced features when it comes to playlist strategy: providing detailed curator profiles and a filter that allows you to see which curators have social URLs, to help you get in touch with them. These profiles also feature a ‘Playlist Journey’ tool, providing insights into which smaller playlists tend to feed into larger playlists. However, IsItAGoodPlaylist. com provides new insights and makes for a great – and free – additional playlist strategy tool.