How does an independent artist go from a viral sensation to a household name with a long-lasting career and engaged fanbase? There are myriad factors that play a role in this kind of success story, but a few things are for sure: It takes good music, a savvy artist team, and, of course, great marketing.
As native to digital spaces as he is to his hometown of Vancouver, British Columbia, bbno$ is of the internet, not just on it, and he’s an indie artist on the cusp of mainstream superstardom. The humorous, down-to-earth rapper broke through in 2019 with the viral hit “Lalala,” which has over 770 million plays on Spotify. He’s been on a roll since then, amassing more than 840,000 followers and a monthly listener count of 9 million-plus on Spotify.
Since early 2021, manager services and artist development company mtheory have been bbno$’s partners in his ascent, supporting his management team by helping with his release strategy and tour rollouts and connecting him to creatives.
bbno$’s relationship with mtheory began with goal setting: “For bbno$, it was about leveling up,” says Hannah Waitt, mtheory’s Director of Digital Marketing. “We want to grow him in a smart way that develops a really solid base of fans that will stay with him, because one of his goals is to make music and tour — and be able to live off of that.”
This fall, on October 8 to be precise, bbno$ is releasing his new album, eat ya veggies, and kicking off a tour to support it in October. bbno$’s team at mtheory needed ways to bring listeners who had stumbled across “Lalala'' or his hits with frequent collaborator Yung Gravy deeper into his music — transforming their consumption from passive, “lean back” streaming to active, intentional listening. One of the tools they used to achieve this goal was Marquee. The promotional tool serves up full-screen, sponsored recommendations of your new release to the right Spotify Free and Premium listeners, guiding them from the app’s Home screen to an active streaming session of your new music. Leading up to the release of his album, bbno$ has released a series of singles that Waitt and his team at mtheory promoted to strategic segments of his audience with Marquee.
mtheory’s work with bbno$ started with his single “bad to the bone.” “Our first goal with it was to target lapsed listeners,” says Waitt, describing listeners who have not actively streamed an artist’s music in the past six months, though they had before. “They know ‘Lalala,’ but they don’t know bbno$ as an artist. For whatever reason, they haven’t listened in six months. [We said to ourselves,] ‘Let’s figure out how many people are out there that fall into that category, and let’s use this first spend to bring as many of them back into bbno$ as possible,’ knowing that, six weeks later, we have another release that we want to hit them with.”
For his next single, they chose to promote his track “help herself,” this time featuring Australian indie pop phenom BENEE. “We went with [the] recently-interested [audience segment] on that, because we had already hit lapsed and casual [listeners],'' explains Waitt. “Then, it was about maximum conversion: get people into the song, get them saving it, prime them for the next solo bbno$ release.” Waitt’s clever strategy went beyond listener profiles to include the nuance of listeners' locations too. “We also targeted Australia on that one, the idea there [being] to sort of tap into BENEE’s fanbase in Australia and bring some of them over into the bbno$ fanbase, so we could hit them with that next Marquee, which was [the single] ‘wussup.’”
Their strategic use of audience segments helped “help herself” with BENEE yield a 37% intent rate among listeners — great news for bbno$ and mtheory as they want to drive more intentional, active streams. “[High intent rate] shows me that a listener has heard it, that they liked it, and they intend to listen to it more, either by saving it down to their library or playlisting,” explains Waitt.
This fan-focused strategy has paid off, and from March 2021 to June 2021, his team saw the number of bbno$’s monthly streams coming from active, lean-in sources — like users’ playlists, their libraries, and bbno$’s page — increase from 38% to 78%. bbno$’s fans actively streaming more of his new releases helped fuel broader engagement with his work. “Marquee is about bringing listeners back into the fold,'' says Waitt. “[When a fan is actively engaged with your music,] you’re in their algorithm, you’re getting autoplayed, you’re in the Daily Mixes. The long-tail effect of Marquee is really what’s going to be the measure of success of this tool, not just the streams you get off of a one-week campaign.”
Overall, Marquee is helping to increase bbno$’s momentum and anticipation for eat ya veggies on Spotify. “Streaming peaks keep getting higher with every new release,'' explains Waitt. “We just had our highest streaming peak to date at over 860,000 daily streams for ‘edamame’ [another single promoted with Marquee]. At this point it's outpaced bbno$'s most successful hit to date, ‘Lalala’! We’re seeing these people actually get pulled back into his orbit, on Spotify.”
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If you’re interested in using Marquee to target audiences in the U.K., Ireland, France, Germany, Canada, Australia, or New Zealand, submit your information here to book a campaign through a Spotify representative. In the U.S., we’re gradually rolling out a new campaign management tool in Spotify for Artists. If your team is based in the U.S., set your billing country to the U.S. to get added to the beta in the coming months.