5 Mar '21

Joshua Jacobson

Artists: 98% didn't get on Spotify’s playlists

Last week, Spotify used its Stream On event to announce a bunch of new features (including the news that President Obama is doing a podcast with Bruce Springsteen 🤷‍♂️). There were also lots of numbers. Particularly ones that can sound good or bad depending on the way you present them.

Take this quote from Daniel Ek, the company’s CEO:

Back in 2002, just over 30,000 albums were released in the US, and only 8,000 sold more than 1,000 copies, representing more than 98% of sales of new releases. By comparison, in 2020, 1.8 million albums were released on Spotify in the US, and six times as many albums represented 98% of the streams for these releases.

Now a 6x improvement since 2002 sounds impressive. However, what happens if we look at it proportionally?

In 2002, the 8,000 albums that generated 98% of sales represented 26.67% of the 30,000 albums released.

18 years later that 8,000 figure increased 6x, to 48,000. At the same time, the total number of albums also increased - to 1.8 million. Therefore, the number of albums that represented 98% of sales (streams) dropped as a proportion to 2.67%!

That means proportionally, the number of albums that generated 98% of sales, dropped 10x from 26.67% to 2.67%.

So, 6x better can also mean 10x worse.

I don’t want that stat to be a downer - there is a huge opportunity if you're not in that top 2.67%. Building a business around your music is definitely not just about streams, and with effective marketing there is every opportunity to find your 1,000 true fans and earn a living. Our aim with Feed is to provide the tools that enable a higher proportion of artists and creators to do just that.

Now, back to the title of this article.

Spotify also said there were 8 million creators; excluding podcasts, that’s around 7 million recording artists. Of those 7 million, “76,000 artists were playlisted for the first time”. That of course doesn't factor in the artists that have been playlisted before. So, to estimate the total number of artists that have ever been playlisted, we're going to assume that the 57,000 artists who represent 90 percent of monthly streams were also playlisted. This gives an overall estimate of 133,000 artists who have been featured on Spotify’s branded playlists at some point.

The number could be higher or lower, but on that assumption that's a 1.9% chance of getting on a Spotify branded playlist,

OR

a 98.1% chance of not!

76,000 sounds like a lot, 1.9% does not.

Again… this isn’t meant to be a downer! My point is, don’t pin all your hopes / focus your energies on getting on one of Spotify’s playlists.

Only a third of listening time is on Spotify’s playlists anyway. You’ve still got two-thirds to play for by focussing on driving people to follow you and save your songs and albums to their libraries.

Streaming may also not be your thing, in which case focus on selling downloads, physical copies of your music, or tickets to shows (in real life or online) through platforms like Bandcamp, MusicGlue or Eventbrite.

If you’d like help with using digital advertising to grow your Spotify following, or sell tickets and music online, then try Feed!

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