Spotify shows the way to a content economy

By Kevin O’Marah

Last November, Marc Engel, Unilever’s Chief Supply Chain Officer, told me about Spotify’s brilliant algorithms for finding and serving music to listeners. I immediately signed up for the premium service. Since then I have marveled at the superior experience and great value delivered by Spotify for all of my listening pleasure.

This week, Spotify’s stock opened for public trading on the New York Stock Exchange with a market capitalization of $27 billion. Founder and CEO Daniel Ek is a contrarian in many ways, including his stated mission to give “a million creative artists the opportunity to live off their art.”

His grasp of today’s empowered consumer behavior and the paradox of a producer community (musicians) that cannot enforce scarcity is what makes Spotify work. As Ek says of his approach: “Fans wanted all the world’s music for free, immediately. So what we did was build a better experience.”

For anyone struggling with demanding customers and declining pricing power, Spotify has demonstrated a model that shows one way forward. Ek and his team have figured out how to monetize intellectual property fairly and with minimal volatility in its revenue streams. Perhaps most important, however, Spotify has proved that even in the absence of scarcity, pricing need not collapse to zero.

Digital Disruption Lessons From the Music Business

Remember Napster? It opened a Pandora’s Box of new business model challenges because of the ease with which customers could pirate products they had been accustomed to buying in a traditional box. Whether that box was a CD, cassette or album, the governing mechanism for monetizing IP was embedding it in a physical asset. Digital disruption blew all that up and recorded music sales began a 15-year slide, slashing overall revenue by more than 40%.

U.S. Music Industry Revenue

The turnaround came in 2015 and by many accounts was led by Spotify, whose music streaming service not only grew like gangbusters, but also shifted steadily away from the aggravating and simple-minded advertising-supported “free” model.

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Spotify now has over 75 million paid premium subscribers who are buying what may be the prototype for future content-intensive businesses. It boils down to paying for expertise that is encoded in algorithms, which control the flow of content into the consumer’s brain in pleasing ways.

Music’s painful passage through the digital knothole came early for mechanical reasons, including the ease with which product could be copied and distributed, plus the low cost and ubiquity of devices for listening to it. Music has a big head start in dealing with digital. Let’s learn from it.

Product as a Service

For supply chain strategists the lessons aren’t necessarily obvious, or even applicable without major changes in underlying business models. The core of it is developing a product architecture that facilitates electronic, and preferably cloud-based, distribution of continuously changing performance in the physical world.

In aircraft engines the concept is known as “power by the hour”. In mobile phones we know it as apps. It is both sensible and yet somewhat counterintuitive.

Two weeks ago Cisco Systems co-hosted with SCM World an excellent event focused on the circular economy. At one level the discussion dealt with material re-use and sustainability issues. At another, however, supply chain executives from businesses as diverse as pharmaceuticals, consumer electronics, aerospace and white goods kept circling back to product-as-a-service business models.

In principle, the supply chain that enables this shift produces high-quality, long-lasting physical assets that have extensive internet of things-equipped systems for actuating job-specific mechanical work at the point of consumption. An example might be smart washing machines that clean better with less water and energy consumption. The business could make money on lifetime use, which depends on subscriptions to an endless stream of tuning algorithms arriving via WiFi.

The algorithms are the content and, just as with Spotify, consumers pay for continuous, personalized application of these algorithms to the real world. Industrial companies such as Johnson Controls sell this value proposition today, as does electric car maker Tesla. It promises to improve user experience and smooth revenue streams.

Spotify is training consumers to pay a monthly subscription for expertise. It is also demonstrating that money can be made without relying on scarcity to support high prices.

This article was written by Kevin O’Marah from Forbes and was legally licensed through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to

Streaming Music is Ripping You Off – Fight back with this simple hack

Go to the profile of Sharky Laguana

If you subscribe to a subscription music service such as Spotify or Apple Music you probably pay $10 a month. And if you are like most people, you probably do so believing your money goes to the artists you listen to. Unfortunately, you are wrong.

The reality is only some of your money is paid to the artists you listen to. The rest of your money (and it’s probably most of your money) goes somewhere else. That “somewhere else” is decided by a small group of subscribers who have gained control over your money thanks to a mathematical flaw in how artist royalties are calculated. This flaw cheats real artists with real fans, rewards fake artists with no fans, and perhaps worst of all communicates to most streaming music subscribers a simple, awful, message: Your choices don’t count, and you don’t matter.

If you love music and want your money to go to the artists that you listen to, consider this simple hack. It’s easy to do, breaks no laws, does not violate any terms of service, directs more money to your favorite artists, but doesn’t actually require you to listen to any music, and best of all, it could force the music industry to make streaming royalties fair(er) for everyone. Sounds good, right?

So let’s cut to the chase. Here’s the hack:
This September, when you aren’t listening to music, put your favorite indie artists on repeat, and turn the sound down low.

You might be saying “Wait a second, turn the sound down? How the heck does that do anything?”

Good question, let me explain.

The Flaw in the Big Pool

Streaming services (Spotify, Apple, etc.) calculate royalties for artists by putting all of the subscription revenue in one big pool. The services then take out 30% for themselves. The remaining 70% is set aside for royalties.

Data: Actual Spotify numbers for premium subscribers in December 2014, per Section 115 disclosures. Source: Audiam

This giant bag of royalties is then divided by the overall number of streams (aka “plays” or “listens”). The result is called the “per-stream royalty rate”.

Data: Actual Spotify numbers for premium subscribers in December 2014, per Section 115 disclosures. Source: Audiam

The problem lies in the fact that this “Big Pool method” only cares about one thing, and one thing only: the overall number of streams. It does not care even a tiny little bit about how many subscribers generated those streams.

So why is this bad?

You Are Worthless

Imagine a hypothetical artist on a streaming service. Which do you think that artist would rather have: 10,000 fans who stream a song once, or one fan who streams it 10,001 times? Seems obvious, right? 10,000 fans is much better than one fan! But the Big Pool method, which only cares about the number of clicks, says the single person is worth more!

So this guy…

…is worth more than this huge crowd?

Photo: James Cridland,

The message to artists and fans is crystal clear: the only fans that matter are the ones who click a lot. Everyone else can suck it.


This is bad for the artist, but astoundingly it’s even worse for streaming services: if each subscriber is paying $10 a month then those 10,000 subscribers would generate $1.2M in annual revenue, while the single user only generates a measly $120. Clearly the services benefit from getting more subscribers, not more streams, so why are they incentivizing streams and ignoring subscribers?

Even more backwards, the Big Pool method encourages the acquisition of heavy-usage subscribers, who are the easiest customers to get and retain (in fact most “music aficionados” are already subscribers), but offers little for light-usage subscribers, who are not only the hardest customers to get and retain, but are more profitable (by not requiring as much bandwidth) and most importantly dramatically greater in number.

It’s as if a car dealership paid the biggest commissions to the employees who sold the fewest number of cheap cars, and completely stiffed the employees who sold lots of expensive ones!

But Wait, It Gets Worse

If the Big Pool rewards artists who get lots of streams, major labels can sign artists who can get a lot of streams. But what if artists aren’t the only ones getting lots of streams?

Click fraud is rarely discussed in the context of streaming music, but it’s fairly simple for a fraudster to generate more in royalties than they pay in subscription fees. All a fraudster has to do is set up a fake artist account with fake music, and then they can use bots to generate clicks for their pretend artist. If each stream is worth $0.007 a click, the fraudster only needs 1,429 streams to make their $10 subscription fee back, at which point additional clicks are pure profit.

But that’s assuming they even paid $10 for the subscription in the first place: it’s possible to purchase stolen premium accounts on the black market, making the scheme profitable almost immediately. The potential profits are substantial: At Spotify it only takes 31 seconds of streaming to trigger a royalty payment, which means as many as 86,400 streams a month can be generated, resulting in over $600 of royalties. At Apple Music the threshold is just 20 seconds, making it hypothetically possible to clear 129,600 streams and $900 in royalties in just one month!

Awareness of click fraud in streaming music is so widespread that developers make apps to facilitate it. The services will tell you they work hard to make their systems secure, they pay bounties for people to find bugs, and once in a while they even catch and ban click frauders. But security researchers are not impressed, many people are not getting caught, and ultimately we have to confront the simple fact that there is no such thing as a foolproof way to prevent click fraud.

If the amount of click fraud activity on GoogleFacebook, and Twitter is any indication (estimated to be over $6 billion a year), the problem could be far worse than any of the services will admit, or possibly even realize, and there’s no way for artists or fans to determine how much revenue has been stolen. It’s like someone sucking the oil out from under your property: you don’t even know it’s happening.

Click fraud is not the only way to cheat the system. One band made an album of completely silent tracks and told their “fans” to play the blank album on repeat while they slept. If a subscriber did as instructed the band earned $195 in royalties from that single subscriber in just one month. But if each subscriber only pays $10 in subscription fees, then where did the other $185 come from?

It came from people like you.

The media suggests that Spotify was the one being “scammed” by this “clever” and “brilliant” stunt, but in reality Spotify suffered no financial loss at all. The $20,000 that the band received didn’t come out of Spotify’s pockets, it came out of the 70% in royalties earmarked for artists. In essence what happened is every artist on Spotify got paid a little less thanks to an album with no music on it.

To understand why, we need to talk about how “average” can be an illusion.

Average Does Not Mean Typical

One of the most misleading words used in the streaming music industry is the word “average”. You’ll often see streaming services bragging about how their “average” user is streaming x number of hours per day, particularly when they are pitching advertisers. But don’t be fooled by the word “average” here — it’s an illusion. Average does not mean typical.

Think of it this way: imagine you are in a room with a random group of people. What is the average income of everyone in the room? It’s likely that roughly half will be above average, and the other half will be below average.

Now what happens when Bill Gates walks into the room?

Everyone in the room is below average now, thanks to Bill.

The same effect is happening in streaming music: a small number of super-heavy-usage subscribers have raised the “average” usage to the point thatmost subscribers are now below average.

We can illustrate this with a graph:

To understand how heavy-users wind up in control of your money, it helps to look at how royalties flow at the individual level:

Every user pays $10 a month, which generates $7 in royalties. If the per-stream rate of $0.007 is determined by dividing overall revenue by overall plays, then simple math tells us the “average” subscriber is streaming 1,000 times (1,000 * $0.007 = $7.00).

So if you stream 200 tracks in a month you will send $1.40 to the artists you listened to (200 * $0.007 = $1.40), and the remaining $5.60 of your $7 is now up for grabs. So who’s grabbing it?

Well, let’s imagine a heavy-user who streams 1,800 tracks in a month. As a result of all this streaming they send $12.60 in royalties to the artists they listen to (1,800 * $0.007 = $12.60). Since they only contributed $7 towards royalties, they are $5.60 short. Guess where that money comes from?


It’s worth noting that many (if not most) of these heavy-usage “subscribers” are probably not individuals at all. They are actually offices, restaurants, gyms, hair salons, etc. Businesses like these can stream up to 24 hours a day — far more than you as an individual could ever hope to do. And they probably don’t share your taste in music either. But they pay the same $10 you do, so why do they get to decide where your money goes?

It’s like you bought a CD and the store told you that you had to listen to it 1,000 times, or they will give your money to Nickelback.

That’s fucked up.

The Subscriber Share Method

There is a better way to approach streaming royalties, one which addresses all of these problems, and it’s called Subscriber Share.

The premise behind Subscriber Share is simple: the only artists that should receive your money are the artists you listen to. Subscriber Share simply divides up your $7 based on how much time you spend listening to each artist. So if you listen to an artist exclusively, then that artist will get the entire $7, but if you listen less they get proportionately less.

As an example, if you listen to Alt-J 25% of the time, then Alt-J would get $1.75 ($7.00 * 25% = $1.75):

Let’s compare this with the Big Pool: if you typically stream 200 streams per month (that’s roughly 13 hours of streaming), then playing Alt-J 25% of the time would equal 50 streams. Since each stream gets a flat $0.007 per stream, the band will recieve just 35 cents. (50 * $0.007 = $0.35)

Click here to see how this looks in real life, with a real subscriber.

But What About Click Fraud?

A nice feature of Subscriber Share is that it is very difficult to turn a profit with click fraud: instead of turning $10 into $600, a fraudster would be turning $10 into $7, and would waste a lot of bandwidth while doing so.

If the fraudster used stolen premium accounts (reducing their cost from $10 to $1 per account), they could still make as much as $6 per account, but that is nowhere near as attractive as making $600 is it? And the difficulty level to do this at scale goes way up. If the industry switched to Subscriber Share most click frauders would move to greener pastures.

Mission Impossible: Minimum Wage

Subscriber Share can also be a huge benefit to small bands just starting out. If a band has a respectable fan base of 5,000 fans then they need $12.06 from every one of these fans in order to earn the federal minimum wage for four people, $60,320. In years past they would sell their fans a CD. But now under the Big Pool they need an ungodly number of streams to make minimum wage: 8.6 million streams.

This means every single fan has to stream the band’s music 1,716 times. Assuming a four minute song that’s over 114 hours of listening, and if their fanbase averages 200 streams per month then that means their fans would need to listen to the band 71% of the time for an entire year!

Subscriber Share only requires the fans to listen to the band 14.36% of the time, so if the typical fan averages 200 streams a month, then just 29 streams a month is sufficient, and the fan will only spend 22 hours in total listening to the band’s music. This is far more plausible for a new artist.

But intriguingly, Subscriber Share also enables fans to financially support an artist using even less effort: If a band can convince their 5,000 fans to listen to them exclusively for two months, the band will earn $70k, and the fans will only have to click once each month in order to do this.

Subscriber Share enables listeners to directly support the artists they care about without having to expend extraordinary amounts of energy to do so.

The result of Subscriber Share is that each and every fan winds up being far more valuable to artists. It honors the intent of the listener, and incentivizes getting more fans, bringing the goals of everyone (services, labels, artists and fans) into alignment.

If you think about it, this is how most of the genres we love got started in the first place. Hip hop, jazz, blues, reggae, punk, grunge, etc, all came from a small group of musicians, and a small group of fans, supporting each other. Who was the biggest beneficiary of this in the end? The music industry.

What Are We Waiting For?

It boils down to two big obstacles: fear, and inertia.

To be fair, the music industry has been on the wrong end of the economic stick for well over a decade now, and talking about changing royalty methods just as it seems like things are about to get better is understandably scary.

The other problem is inertia. Institutions hate change, it’s expensive and hard, and you have to rethink everything attached to that change. Inevitably various special interests will arise and fight for the status quo. It can be very tricky to overcome their objections.

So it is difficult for the music industry to change, even when they know it’s in their best interest. They are like a cat stuck in a tree. They got themselves up, and can’t figure out how to get down.

If the industry is immobilized by fear, and can’t be persuaded to move in the right direction with logic, then one possible way to get them to get them out of the tree is to make it even scarier if they don’tmove. In other words: We need to scare the cat out of the tree.

And that’s where our little hack comes in…

A Silent Protest This September

A critical aspect of streaming music services is that the services can’t tell if the volume is turned down. If the music is playing the “clicks” still count, even if no one is listening. This can be used to our advantage.

Normally a typical subscriber can’t keep up with heavy users, in part because many of these heavy users aren’t even individuals to begin with: they’re actually offices, hair salons, gyms, yoga studios, and restaurants. But if typical subscribers streamed music 24/7, and just turned the volume down when they weren’t listening, then maybe they could catch up!

And if these silent protestors streamed strictly independent artists, major labels would have to worry about the value of their streams decreasing! That could be enough to persuade them to reconsider the use of the Big Pool method, and if the major labels jump out of the Big Pool tree, the rest of the music industry will follow.

Even a small number of people engaging in this silent protest will have a measurable impact: just doing it for one day will double most people’s monthly consumption, and doing it for one week will result in more streams than a typical subscriber consumes in a year! But obviously the more the merrier. So let’s throw the idea out there and see what happens:

For the month of September, let’s stream indie bands 24/7 non-stop, with the volume turned down to one.

Note: It’s recommended that you turn the volume low, but not all the way to zero, and you should change your selected indie artist on a daily basis (or even better use playlists with multiple artists), so that you aren’t mistaken as a bot by the services.

If this works the music industry will be forced make royalties fair(er) for all musicians and fans. If it fails a couple of indie bands will get a bigger check than usual. What have we got to lose by trying?

Spotify Limited & Apple Records. Can Spotify pull a Netflix?

Go to the profile of M.G. Siegler

The following seems inevitable. But sometimes stating the obvious draws some interesting concepts out of the woodwork. Such was the case earlier this week on Twitter when I shared a link to an Economist article suggesting Spotify may become a music label one day. The key bit:

The streaming service’s most intriguing point of leverage is that it could use these advantages to become a recorded-music label itself, working directly with artists. Matthew Ball, an analyst, argues that Spotify is sure to start cutting deals with artists in which it pays an upfront guarantee and promises a percentage of streaming revenue that is much smaller than it pays labels, but far more than artists get now.

This seems like Econ 101. Spotify pays most of its revenue to the labels to license music rights. The labels then pay a small amount of that money to artists. In the age of record pressing, compact disc encoding, physical distribution, and the like, such a middle man was needed. Today, that middle man seems, well, antiquated. The labels, of course, will say they do far more than this, and maybe they do — for now. But come on, this middle man is so getting cut out of the equation at some point.¹

And Spotify, more so than any company before it — aside from maybe Apple (more on that in a bit) — is in a position to do just that. Of course, they can’t come out and say this — though it sure sounds like Jimmy Iovine did recently (again more in a bit) — because it would be declaring open war on their most important partners. But this is inevitable: Spotify will work with artists directly to produce and distribute their music, becoming, effectively, a label.

From the same Economist article:

Becoming a label will not happen soon, partly because it would infuriate the incumbents who supply most music. But the growth of Spotify’s core business has come at a cost that is hard to ignore. Its royalty payments are a built-in, large expense. (Some rights-holders are clamouring for even more; in December Wixen Music Publishing sued Spotify for $1.6bn.) Competition from other paid streaming services mean it is hard for it to raise its own prices. To fund itself Spotify raised $1bn in debt in 2016 under terms that allowed two of the lenders, TPG, a private-equity group, and Dragoneer, a hedge fund, to convert to equity at a discount that increased with time, making an early public listing desirable. As long as its losses mount, it will seek other ways to turn a profit.

As it continues to grow, Spotify can, and has been, renegotiating the cut they must pay out to the labels. But at some point, this is going to stop making sense for new music.² As more money keeps flowing through the system, more folks are going to come in wanting their piece. And again, the biggest part of that piece is going to the labels.³ This fundamental flaw is why most music startups fail. The situation is untenable as its currently constructed.

I believe Spotify knows this and has known this for a long time. They’re playing the game they have to play for now, with their eyes on a much bigger prize. And going after such a prize likely plays into their timing to go public.

In terms of execution, this is going to be closest to the Netflix playbook — with some key differences. Netflix, of course, started the streaming aspect of their business by licensing content from the Hollywood studios. Over time, they were able to gather enough user data to know what might make for a successful show they could produce on their own — hence, House of Cards was born. These days, when you open Netflix the majority of what you see — even if the licensed content tail is still far longer — is original content.

At a high level, Spotify can do the same thing. But it’s going to be a bit different because of the differences between video content (movies and television) and music. But it actually makes even more sense to go direct to the content sources in music because of the aforementioned label take (again, for doing increasingly less and less) with one big “if.

If, consumers are conditioned by video services like Netflix, Amazon Prime Video, Hulu, and the like to pay for multiple services, Spotify can easily make this move. If consumers are not, this is going to be a lot harder for Spotify to execute — not least because they’re going to enter an even bigger war with Apple (and presumably Amazon, and Google, etc).⁴

That is to say, people are used to paying for a music service and having access to basically all music in existence — which is still wild! They’re not used to having to pay for Spotify and Apple Music in order to get access to all the content they want. I think this will change for the reasons listed above, but it’s going to be a harder transition, largely because music is more passive than video content is — it would (and will) be annoying to have to remember which song is streaming on which service.

Still, beyond the economic equation, as Apple (and Amazon, Google, etc) continue to fight Spotify for market share, this is all inevitable. And again, beyond this going slowly because these guys literally can’t afford to piss off the labels (again, right now — so perhaps they become some sort of newfangled A&R service first, as Christina Warren suggested on Twitter), some artists will probably balk at not having their music available everywhere. Which will be ironic given that this is what other artists — the biggest ones — use as their leverage point for getting what they want.⁵

Now, Apple has already been dipping their toes into some exclusive content. But this has largely been based around exclusive windows — that is, the ability to sell music first. This is the first step towards the above, but it’s something that is really only relevant for the top tier of artists. Spotify used to be adamantly opposed to this, then caved (in exchange, in part, for the lower percentage payouts). Though it’s not even clear the labels actually like this anymore. (Nor that any of us should.) Of course, when you are the label…⁶

The only real question in my mind is when Spotify makes the real move to exclusive content. Or if Apple does it first…

Per above, here’s what Jimmy Iovine said recently:

As an example of what “more interesting might be,” Iovine drew from subscription television. “Netflix has a unique catalog, because they don’t buy HBO and they have their own catalog. Then on top of that they have a little thing called $6 billion in original content. HBO has $3 billion, Amazon probably has $4 billion. Well, guess how much original content streaming has: zero! Fundamentally. All the catalogs are exactly the same,” he told the crowd.

Some wonder if he just means exclusive live content or the like. And maybe he does, at first. But the broader ambition here seems pretty clear. Again: follow the Netflix playbook.

I think that in going public now, Spotify is ramping up for this. While they may not be raising money in their direct listing IPO, it will open them up to easier access to more forms of capital. Apple, of course, needs no more capital. They literally already have more than they know what to do with (but still will undoubtedly continue raising more debt for projects such as this because it’s so cheap).

And how might the labels react? They must know this is coming. They can see what Netflix just did to their Hollywood brethren. And they still remember what Apple did to them in the age of downloads (beyond saving them from piracy, which is conveniently forgotten, of course). I’m just not sure what they can do. Beyond maybe touting their other reasons to exist — promotion! guidance! — none of which are sustainable. But I know something else inevitable: this will all get ugly at some point.⁷

Regardless, I’m pretty bullish on Spotify as it gears up to go public. It won’t be easy or quick, but if they can execute the transition into a label, a new label for a new age, this could be a massive business. Like Netflix, but with an even larger potential base paying them each month. There are a lot of unknowns in terms of timing — and if they get said timing wrong, the company could actually be in trouble. But again, this all feels inevitable. In 10 years, we’ll have Spotify Limited and Apple Records.⁸ And probably Google whatever and Amazon something. And yes, we’ll be paying for all of them.

But at least they won’t be paying the majority of that to the labels.

Photo by Natalie Perea on Unsplash

(Disclosure: Just to be clear, I have nothing to disclose here. I’m not a Spotify shareholder — though I might be when they go public! — and actually, I’m an Apple Music user. Though I suspect I’ll be a Spotify member as well in the not-too-distant future per above.)

¹ Because Spotify, Apple Music, and the like — as well as some newer ideas — are the newfangled middle men! And that’s a undoubtedly a good thing, certainly for artists, it would seem.

² This is important: I suspect there may always be some sort of relationship with the labels necessary to ensure catalog access, which is vital for any streaming music service. But new music is a different beast in this new world.

³ I won’t wade into the publisher and rights’ holders part of the equation here as it makes things even more complicated. But those guys seem to be in a better position than the labels.

⁴ I suspect all the big tech players with their audio assistants and hardware (both things like the Echo, Home, and HomePod, but also eventually the AirPods) use these as new points of leverage as well, since music will be key for all of these new devices and services. This could be both a strength for Spotify as they can be the Switzerland here — since they have no hardware, at least not yet. But also a potential weakness, in particular if one platform in the space becomes dominant.

⁵ And let’s not even talk about Tidal here. You know, the “artist-owned” service, which has been a disaster from day one.

⁶ Another wild card is if Spotify could become a label and still license their content to Apple Music. Sounds crazy, but maybe it’s not. Again, the real reason to go direct would be to cut out the ridiculous payments to the labels. If consumers throw up on the notion of exclusivity, this could be an option. That would be slightly awkward as Apple Music would have to license content from Spotify and vice versa, but presumably both of those guys would be more reasonable in their payment expectations. Anyway, just throwing that out there, but I don’t think that’s going to happen.

⁷ A fight that will undoubtedly be even more awkward since the major labels all hold equity positions in Spotify. Will they sell once the company is public? We shall see…

⁸ Again! It would seem Apple could do this, if they wanted…

10 Ways To Get More Playlist Followers On Spotify

You’ve made a great playlist and you’re really excited about it! But you want other music lovers to listen to it, right? Luckily, there are plenty of ways to get more Spotify playlist followers organically. Here’s how:

How to get more Spotify playlist followers

1. Plan your campaign & don’t stop plugging

The best way to earn new followers and listeners is to push your playlists online as much as possible, whilst continuously taking inspiration from what’s trending on social media. Plan how you’ll advertise and plug your playlist in advance and try lots of different ways to win new followers.

The follow-for-follow technique is a one way to connect with other curators whilst also checking that your playlist ideas haven’t been used before, but there are plenty more options to attempt.

2. Advertise it to your personal network

In the same way social media users increase their followers on Facebook, Instagram and Twitter, aim to get your playlist popular amongst Spotify users.

A quick way to do this is to use simple promotional tools like sponsored posts to reach out to your social media network. Your playlist could also be advertised personally. Contact your local venues, bars, independent shops and cafés and ask them to shuffle it.

3. Reach out to playlisting sites

Find websites that push playlists like Sound Plate and and submit yours to a network of curators. is connected to the ‘Playlist a Day’ app, which is compatible with iPhone and Android. It randomises Spotify playlists and sends users one themed playlist a day. It’s also free to download from iTunes and Google Play.

Get More Playlist Followers On SpotifyConnect your playlist to the Playlist a Day app 

4. Post on Reddit

Reddit’s Spotify Playlists subreddit hosts a competition every month for the best playlist created within a theme. Alternatively, you can simply upload to this subreddit which helps to bring the power of Reddit’s ranking algorithm to Spotify playlist discovery.

The We Are the Music Makers subreddit is another online community perfect for playlist exchanges. There are different competitions every week to create a buzz, where users post comments and regularly check out the work of others.

5. Spotify Playlist Exchange

Join the Spotify Community! Log in with your Spotify username/password and post your playlist to the Spotify Playlist Exchange with a brief description informing other users of the genre, why you created it and whether you’re going to keep it updated or not. Remember to tag related genres in case users search for particular music through the playlist exchange.

You can also rate playlists submitted by other curators, comment on their threads with your playlist attached and encourage them to follow it.

6. Collaborate with other playlist curators

Collaborate with popular playlist-makers such as Filtr, Indiemono, Streaming Promotions and Playlist Pump.

Create a playlist that’s mutually beneficial; with the help of these platforms, it could rank highly on Spotify searches. Send in a proposition along with your playlist idea via email or through the websites. Remember to advertise yourself as a curator who can work professionally and within a deadline.

Get More Playlist Followers On SpotifySubmit your playlist to Indiemono’s playlist community

7. Contact artists on your playlist

Speaking of platforms, contact the artists you have playlisted and ask them to share with their fans. If you don’t know them personally or don’t want to get in touch via their management, then the best way to do this is through Twitter. Attach a link and playlist artwork in case they re-tweet!

8. Make use of blogs and influencers

Contact popular music bloggers and work on a collaboration or a playlist takeover with them. Have the blogger post about it to their social media profiles encouraging fans to share.

An easy way to contact influencers is through Famebit. It’s free to sign up and you can meet tastemakers worldwide who post daily on YouTube, Twitter, Instagram and Facebook. Alternatively, create your own weekly blog post and keep it fresh with new music and update it with your own playlist links.

9. Share with Spotify Codes

Make your playlists more shareable with Spotify Codes. You can get your friends and followers to scan your playlist code on their phones to instantly play music. You’ll find your playlist’s code by clicking on the ellipsis (…) menu, and the code will be attached to the bottom of your playlist artwork. You can then save it to your camera roll for easy sharing.

You could also upload a photo or screenshot of your playlist code to Instagram for your followers to scan using the new camera icon situated to the right of the Spotify searchbar, or include it on any flyers, posters or promotional material.

10. Keep creating new playlists

Why stop there? Create more playlists! Consider mood and genre, which artists are popular and most importantly, your own tastes. Put together music you’re proud to promote and you’re currently excited about.

Although you may be curating playlists with music created by other artists, there are lots of ways to keep it original. Try to create your own unique themes and set yourself apart from other Spotify playlist-makers.

Do you curate and promote your own playlists on Spotify? How do you increase your followers? Let us know in the comments below and share these tips with other Spotify playlist makers.


The clock is ticking for Spotify

It’s amazing to think that just 10 years ago, flat-rate digital music streaming services were a mere gleam in the eye of industry executives.

It was as recently as September 2007 that Rick Rubin, then co-head of Columbia Records, put forward the idea as a way of combating online music piracy and file-sharing.

“You’d pay, say, $19.95 a month, and the music will come from anywhere you’d like,” he told the New York Times.

“In this new world, there will be a virtual library that will be accessible from your car, from your cell phone, from your computer, from your television.”

As it turned out, he was essentially describing Spotify, which launched just over a year later.

He even got the price right. In those heady days, when the pound was a lot stronger, $19.95 was equivalent to £10, which, give or take a penny, is the monthly cost of Spotify Premium in the UK today.

But Spotify is yet to make a profit, while plans to float the firm on the stock market have reportedly been delayed, raising a big question mark over its business model.

Industry accolade

Of course, Spotify isn’t the only streaming platform out there. Others have joined it over the past decade, including Apple Music, Amazon Prime Music and Deezer, as well as high-resolution music services Tidal and Qobuz.

But Spotify is seen as the leader, with more than 100 million users, 40 million of them paid-up subscribers to its Premium tier.

Daniel EkImage copyrightAFP
Image captionSpotify’s Daniel Ek is now the music industry’s most powerful player, says Billboard

The Swedish firm is now a major player in 60 countries, including the world’s biggest music market, the US, where streaming accounted for 51% of music consumption last year.

Reflecting the huge impact that Spotify has had, its chief executive, Daniel Ek, has just topped US music industry magazine Billboard’s latest Power 100 list of the biggest movers and shakers in the business.

“For the first time since [former file-sharing service] Napster decimated music sales, the recorded music industry is showing signs of growth, and that reversal of fortune is largely due to one man,” Billboard said in its citation.

The magazine also hailed Spotify as “the place fans discover music as well as consume it”, pointing to its promoted playlists, including its Discover Weekly service.

Royalty woes

However, the clock is ticking for Spotify as it hatches its plans to go public.

The firm originally planned to float this year, but according to the TechCrunch website, this could now be delayed until 2018.

There are various issues behind this move, not least of which is that Spotify needs to conclude new long-term licensing deals with the big three record companies – Universal, Sony and Warner – to avoid the risk of suddenly losing major chunks of its content.

It’s thought that Spotify currently pays 55% of its revenue to record labels in royalties, with additional money going to music publishers.

In the interest of finally becoming a profitable company, it would like to lower that percentage, but this is unlikely to go down well with artists, who argue that the royalties they receive from streaming are unfairly low as it is.

Brutal arithmetic

But if it waits too long before floating, it could face a serious cash crisis.

In March last year, the firm raised $1bn from investors at an interest rate of 5% a year, plus a discount of 20% on shares once the initial public offering (IPO) of shares takes place.

Spotify appImage copyrightAFP
Image captionIs Spotify now too big to fail?

However, under the terms of the agreement, the interest rate goes up by one percentage point and the discount by 2.5 percentage points every six months until the IPO happens.

So as time goes on, Spotify must pay ever larger sums to its creditors just to settle the interest on its loan, while the amount of money it can raise from its IPO is trimmed by an ever greater amount.

Unless Mr Ek can get the better of this brutal arithmetic, the future looks tough for Spotify.

But at the same time, as Billboard says, “the entire music business now has an interest in its success”.

“If it’s not already too big to fail, it’s headed in that direction quickly,” concludes the magazine.