How Syncs Supercharge Your Fans: Insights from Spotify for Artists and Netflix

Jonathan Cohen / September 28, 2022

Syncs spike streams of tracks that appear in movies and TV shows, including a flock of new listeners. But once those fans are on Spotify, they explore an artist's whole catalog.

You already know that the surprise success of Kate Bush's 37-year-old song "Running Up That Hill" after it was featured in Netflix's Stranger Things was one of the biggest music stories of 2022. But it wasn't just longtime fans who flocked to Spotify to hear the song: tons of new listeners also streamed the track, and they didn't stop there. As our new Fan Study: Catalog Edition shows, there are many examples of sync placements driving listeners far beyond the featured song, deep into the artist's whole catalog. Even better: the data, which was developed in partnership with Netflix, shows that these upticks apply to artists of all levels.

Read more - Syncs to Streams: How to Maximize Your Music's On-Screen Potential

Sync Listeners Dig Deeper

Streams of the rest of Bush's discography increased an amazing 439% after the Stranger Things sync. Lizzo, another synced artist analyzed in the study, ascended to superstardom when "Truth Hurts" was featured in Netflix rom-com Someone Great in 2019, two years after it was first released as a single. The sync drove a 272% bump in streams of the rest of her catalog on top of an 870% rise in streams of the song in the two weeks after the sync.

Newcomer Manu Pilas also stepped into the spotlight after his version of the traditional Italian folk song "Bella Ciao" was used in the 2017 Spanish drama series Money Heist, upping streams of the rest of his catalog by 171%. And R&B legend William Bell returned to the spotlight 53 years after scoring a hit with "I Forgot To Be Your Lover" when it appeared in the 2021 Netflix film Malcolm & Marie, driving uplift of the rest of his catalog by 132%.

Amy Dunning, Netflix's Vice President, Music Creative Production, confirms the power of these syncs to "launch careers and relaunch classics to a brand new audience."

They can highlight "music from emerging artists, like director Jennifer Robinson and music supervisor Stephanie Diaz Matos did in 2019 with Lizzo and her song 'Truth Hurts' in the film Someone Great," Dunning says. Or surface, "the value a treasured catalog song might bring to the right character as Nora Felder did with 'Running Up That Hill' and Stranger Things."

Syncs Mint Fresh Fans

As with Kate Bush, it's not just long-time fans who come to listen after a sync. The Fan Study data shows that synced artists enjoy exponential increases in first-time streams from listeners who have never streamed them before on Spotify -- from 50% more to 6,000% more, based on the group of songs analyzed.

While the 6,000% figure represents how many more Spotify users listened to Kate Bush for the first time because of the sync compared to the seven days before it, the effect remained impressive for all of the artists we looked at, who range from emerging to household names.

Rising singer/songwriter Baby Queen saw a 1,134% increase in discoveries in the week after her song "Colours of You" was featured in Heartstopper this April, compared with the 7 days before it aired. Within 28 days, she had gained nearly 1.5 million new listeners. Further along the artist career spectrum, Metallica had a 432% rise in discoveries in the week after vintage favorite "Master of Puppets" appeared in Stranger Things this July compared with the 7 days before it aired. Although they've been hitmakers for decades, they still gained more than 6 million new listeners following the sync.

Let's Get Engaged

Once those listeners get started with the synced artists, they do even more than just stream the artists' songs. Shares, saves, and playlist adds all increase, and the engagement is both genre and era-agnostic.

Looking at the number of playlist adds provides a clear example. Singer/songwriter Harry Nilsson's 1971 song "Gotta Get Up" was added to 7,613% more playlists in the days right after it appeared in 2019's Russian Doll, compared with the days right before. And the adds remained above pre-sync levels even 28 days later. Singer/choreographer's Todrick Hall's "Hair, Hips, Nails, Teeth" had a similar trajectory after appearing in Sex Education in late 2021. Playlist adds rocketed, increasing 379% after the sync, and also continued above pre-sync levels for the following 28 days.

"When listeners arrive to check out that track they've just heard in a TV show, commercial, or movie," says Bryan Johnson, Spotify's international head of artist and industry partnerships, "it's easy for them to then go even deeper into an artist's catalog on Spotify, save their new favorite songs to playlists, and share them with friends."

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