Let’s address the elephant in the room: 2021 was weird. Luckily, we had music to get us through it all. With new ways to connect with listeners, expanded resources, and fresh insights, we did our best to help artists achieve their goals and build their fanbases on Spotify for Artists. This year might not have looked how we all thought it would, but the strides you made showed us just how powerful the music industry can be. Here’s how it all went down.
New ways to express yourself
This year, we added new ways to help artists tell their stories alongside their music on Spotify. To kick it off, all artists gained access to Canvas at the start of the year, enabling them to add short, looping visuals to their tracks on Spotify – including some that took over social media.
Our Music + Talk feature – used by artists like Camilo and Amy Macdonald to mix talk commentary with full music tracks – was expanded to 15 more countries, allowing more artists to join the conversation. And Greenroom, a live audio app that allows communities to connect in real time, welcomed organic, unfiltered discussions – giving artists a chance to surprise and delight unsuspecting fans with drop-in audio conversations.
Supporting artists locally and globally
We’re working toward a music industry where every artist has access to the same opportunities – no matter where in the world they live. That’s why, just last week, Spotify for Artists launched in 16 new languages, letting you take control and build your fanbase in the language you know best. We’ll be rolling out more languages early next year.
We also want to break down barriers to help independent artists build their fanbases and their careers. That’s why we started a new Fresh Finds program this year to give artists access to one-on-one mentorship with our team, a personalized Masterclass, collaboration opportunities with songwriters and producers, and a chance to release an original Spotify Singles track.
And in response to a climate in which Black voices continue to be left out of the narrative, we launched Frequency, a global initiative for celebrating Black art, entertainment, creativity, culture, and community both on and off-platform. Part of Frequency's mission is to not only be a hub for Black music, but also to show early support for developing artists, and to showcase the influence of Black culture across subgenres which might not typically be seen by the masses.
As some artists begin to navigate their way back to the stage, we want to help them promote shows, learn from industry leaders, plan tours, and encourage safe concert-going with our Back to Live initiative. Our initial steps for this campaign included bringing back our Fans First email marketing program to drive ticket and merch sales, testing the Concerts Hub destination on “Home” to increase awareness of shows, leveraging Promo Cards to feature tour details, working with our global nonprofit and governmental partners on providing the public with vaccine information, and more. And we spoke to a few live music experts on what the journey Back to Live looks like on our Co.Lab Sessions podcast.
Building your audience and connecting with fans
And for those artists continuing the live music experience online, we announced a partnership with StageIt, Mandolin, NoCap, and nugs.net to streamline the virtual event experience so listeners can go directly from Spotify to your event. But what’s an event (even a virtual one) without merch? Our new integration with Shopify lets artists showcase merch on their artist profiles to grow additional revenue streams and stay connected with fans. Consider it your virtual merch table.
In-person events may have been limited, but your creativity never slowed and the new music kept on coming. To help your new releases stand out, we added a number of enhancements to Marquee – our new release marketing tool. We began rolling out a self-serve buying experience for Marquee in the U.S. to make it easier to create campaigns, expanded Marquee access to nearly a dozen new markets, added support for singles, and introduced new reporting metrics. Building smart new release marketing plans requires smarter data – so we added a new Release Details view in Spotify for Artists to provide composite stats for any new release, plus a new Audience Engagement page to analyze how your full catalog turned listeners into fans with playlist adds, saves, and other high-intent actions.
Celebrating artist successes
At Spotify, we wholeheartedly support shouting from the rooftops about all major milestones. New Spotify Charts – including Artist Charts that track full catalog streams, Genre Charts for 17 different genres, and City and Local Pulse Charts tapping into over 200 locations – gave artists a chance to show off their impact and created even more opportunities to reach the charts. Plus with updated Promo Cards, you can personalize your messages with new languages, share milestones about chart positions and follower counts, celebrate track and album anniversaries, and show fans if you’re featured on one of more than a hundred playlists.
Introducing more data — and more transparency
More data leads to stronger strategies, leads to bigger fans, leads to – well, you get the picture. That’s why we launched the first-ever Fan Study, featuring 15 new insights designed to help you find the right fanbase for your goals, along with a Merch Edition so you can step up revenue streams with your swag. We finished the year with a Shopify-integrated Wrapped for Artists and a look at the year’s biggest wins, the artists’ top artists, and more in The Year in Music: Wrapped – an interactive year-in-review to celebrate the incredible 2021 that the artist community had as a collective.
When it came to questions about artist income from streaming, we heard you loud and clear. So we shared new data and resources in Loud & Clear. The questions featured on this platform have been circling around the industry for over a decade, which, if you ask us, is far too long to go without clear answers on the royalty system, the players, and the process. We hope our answers and resources about today’s streaming industry have offered constructive conversation and deeper industry context.
Creating space for songwriters, producers, and publishers
Saying “it takes a village” to create a hit song might be the understatement of the year. We said hello to Noteable in 2021, a hub specially designed for that village – the songwriters, producers, and publishers – to access relevant industry resources and connect with likeminded creators. Song Start gave this community a jumping off point with an educational video and podcast series that features lessons from Camila Cabello, John Legend, Sam Smith, Ali Tamposi, and so many more.
New educational resources
Education never stops, but how we consume information has evolved. We took favorites like our Best Advice video series and Co.Lab events and adapted them for a more virtual world (a new podcast featuring unfiltered advice from renowned artists for the former, and virtual events and podcast episodes on timely topics for the latter). This year also brought new episodes of the Game Plan, featuring lessons from music legends and Spotify insiders on artificial streaming, Canvas, and the tools available to publishers and songwriters.
As we head into 2022, the team here at Spotify for Artists wants to thank you all for being a part of this community — and for all the music. See you next year!