In 2020, we were all reminded of the importance of music in tough times: sometimes it was our respite from a disorienting reality; other times, it provided the perfect soundtrack to help us push through. While touring couldn’t happen safely this year, the connection between fan and artist was still a lifeline for both parties. This year at Spotify for Artists we were focused on strengthening this vital connection, enabling creativity, and providing artists and their teams with the tools to reach the fans who, in turn, needed them.
By now, you’ve probably unwrapped your year on Spotify and are celebrating your wins with fans. Despite this year’s devastating challenges, there’s a lot to celebrate. More than 60,000 artists hit the exciting milestone of reaching 100,000+ monthly listeners on Spotify at some point during this year — up 42% from 42,000 in 2019. That includes a bunch of brand new artists, too: 6,500 artists who released music on Spotify for the first time in 2020 crossed the 100,000 monthly listeners threshold, a nearly 180% increase from last year. Playlists play an important role in helping artists, new and old, reach milestones like these, so we were excited to help more artists get discovered by listeners this year — more than 64,000 artists were added to Spotify editorial playlists for the very first time in 2020.
As part of our look back on 2020, we wanted to take a moment to recap and reflect on our own year of announcements, launches, and innovations for artists and their teams. Consider the following list our own Wrapped.
Supporting the Global Music Community
The pandemic turned our world upside down. It changed how people interact with each other and just about every other aspect of our lives. We were left with no choice but to adapt and to support each other. To help support the artist community specifically, Spotify launched the COVID-19 Music Relief project in March. The Music Relief Project partnered with 20 verified organizations around the world, doing the critical work on the ground in their countries, offering financial relief to music community members who are most in need. Spotify made donations to these verified organizations and matched $10 million of donations made via the Spotify COVID-19 Music Relief page, dollar for dollar.
Knowing how devastating COVID-19 was to touring, we wanted to make it easier for fans to directly support the artists they love. The Artist Fundraising Pick feature we introduced in April helps artists who are interested in raising money to support themselves, their bands, or their crews, to get the word out to their fans via Spotify artist profiles. Cash App, one of our fundraising partners alongside Givealittle, GoFundMe, Mercado Pago, PayPal.me, and PayU, donated an additional $1 million USD to what fans contributed to artists through their Artist Fundraising Pick.
Not even COVID could stop artists from connecting with fans — even if those connections had to happen remotely instead of in person at shows. As we saw more artists doing virtual performances, we leveraged our partnership with Songkick and Ticketmaster to bring Virtual Events listings to artists’ profiles and the Concerts hub.
This month, Spotify also launched a partnership with the National Independent Venue Association (NIVA). Formed at the onset of the COVID-19 crisis, NIVA is dedicated to the preservation of independent live music venues across the U.S with the Save Our Stages campaign and proposed legislation. As part of our Wrapped campaign, we took over the marquees of over 30 music venues across the country that have been shuttered because of the pandemic, using their signage spaces to commemorate historic shows at the venues. We also donated a total of $500,000 to those stages and the NIVA Emergency Relief Fund.
Combining sights with sounds is one of the best ways to deepen listeners’ connection with your music. With Canvas, the three to eight-second looping visuals listeners see when streaming your tracks on Spotify, artists can express the vision for their song and make the experience of listening to their tracks even more unique.
In June, we enabled Canvas sharing to Instagram Stories for artists and listeners alike. Later, in November, we expanded access to the beta to give more artists the opportunity to use Canvas. We also launched a Canvas designers category on SoundBetter to help artists and their teams link up with professional graphic designers and visual artists who could help bring their Canvas ideas to life.
We’ve been tracking the efficacy of adding a Canvas to a track during the beta, and we’ve found that when listeners see a Canvas, they are more likely to keep streaming (+5% on average vs. control group), share the track (+145%), add it to their playlists (20%), save the track (+1.4%), and visit your profile page (+9%).
Empowering New Forms of Creativity
This fall, we introduced a new listening experience that brings together music and talk commentary in a single show format. Now, through Anchor, you can create shows where you can play full songs from Spotify’s catalog of 65 million licensed songs and your own spoken word content segments.
We’re also working on new creation tools. We believe artists shouldn’t have to be in the same place to create and collaborate — especially in our currently socially-distanced world. Soundtrap Capture is a free collaborative mobile app for on-the-go music capture and creation that lets artists collaborate in real-time and record high-quality audio wherever and whenever inspiration strikes.
Bringing Labels and Distributors Into Spotify for Artists
Teamwork makes the dream work. In May, we brought artist teams, labels, and distributors together on Spotify for Artists so you can manage your profile, see and analyze your data, and pitch to playlists all in one place.
Promoting Your Music With Promo Cards
To better equip artists and their teams with what they need to promote their music, we rolled out Promo Cards, easily customizable graphics that you can create to share with your fans to promote yourself, your songs, your album, or when your tracks are featured on some of our most popular playlists.
Turning Listeners into Fans with Marquee’s Audience Segments
Through Marquee’s audience segment targeting, artists and their teams can serve up Marquee release notifications to parts of their core audience defined by their different listening behaviors, including recently listened, casual, and lapsed listeners. Folk rock band Mt. Joy and their team at Dualtone Records used Marquee’s audience segments capability to help make their rollout for the album Rearrange Us a success.
Celebrating Your Wins With New Weekly Music Charts
We launched our Spotify Weekly Music charts to give artists a new way to celebrate their milestones with their fans. The Spotify Weekly Top 50 celebrates the biggest albums and tracks in the world and consists of global and 47 market-specific Album and Song Charts. We also introduced the Global & U.S. Top 10 Debuts lists for tracks and albums to capture the biggest new releases on Spotify Friday through Sunday. Follow the @SpotifyCharts Twitter account, which publishes the new charts every Monday.
Sparking Inspiration With Videos, Articles, and Virtual Events
To know better is to do better, and our goal is to arm you with the information and insights you need to reach your goals. That’s why we’ve developed several video series that explain and demystify playlisting, music promotion, and nearly every other aspect of the music biz that affects artists.
This year, How They Made It told the success stories of artists like Chicago’s Dreezy, for whom playlist pitching strategy was key. We also got to see how SoundBetter could bring together artists from across the globe as an electronic trio from Poland tapped a singer from Minnesota to make a hit song.
And while the nuts and bolts of using Spotify for Artists are important, so are the perspectives of people in the know. For our Best Advice series, we sought out artists such as Phoebe Bridgers, The Killers, and Karol G who imparted their wisdom on a range of music-related topics. Look out for our Best Advice podcast in the new year.
We also gave you tips from Spotify insiders and established artists with our flagship video series, The Game Plan, so you could build your visual identity and use data to inform your digital campaigns.
We launched Co.Lab in 2018 as a live event and video series to give artists and their teams advice from experts at IRL gatherings. But this year, because of COVID-19, Co.Lab went virtual. Luckily, that adaptation didn’t diminish the offering as much as democratize it for an online audience as guests like Instagram’s Fadia Kader and singer-songwriter H.E.R. dropped gems on everything from live streaming and release tactics to mental health. If you weren’t able to attend any of this year’s virtuals sessions, don’t worry as they’ll be available in podcast form come 2021.
Last but certainly not least, the Spotify for Artists team would like to thank every artist and artist team for their efforts this year. The items listed above are just some of the ways we’re showing up for you, and in 2021 we’ll continue to provide you with new and innovative ways to grow your career, be heard, and build your fanbases.