Playlists at Work: 24kGoldn
The young rapper explains his well-planned approach to finding worldwide success through social media and streaming.
24kGoldn’s career is only just beginning, but he’s already accomplishing milestones most musicians would envy. At just 19 years old, the San Francisco native has successfully leveraged internet virality into nearly 12 million monthly Spotify listeners and a Platinum-certified single—all before even dropping his debut LP, which is due this fall. The rapper’s punchy 2019 hit “Valentino” initially saw buzz on TikTok, but placement on Spotify’s Get Turnt and Most Necessary playlists pushed the track over the top, racking up more than 187 million plays to date.
Goldn, born Golden Landis Von Jones, got his start playing shows in the Bay Area and sharing songs with classmates, but things took a major turn as he embraced the wide-reaching power of the web. “[When] I discovered digital marketing, I was like, ‘Yo, I can have [people] in Sweden find out about me if I play my cards right,’” he says. “Then I used the internet to start blowing my music up more.”
Part of that strategy involved pitching “Valentino” Imanbek remix via Spotify for Artists’ playlist pitch form. This along with the fact that the editorial team had been playlisting the original mix of the song since its release in February 2019 created a snowball effect.
Timing is everything
Although the success of “Valentino” might have appeared sudden, Goldn explains it was actually a well-planned journey. He wrote the song at 17 while still in high school and held off on releasing it until the time felt right. “I ended up saving it for over a year because I knew it was going to be a big song,” he says. “It was just the energy that the song had. I kept listening to it over and over again.”
Once he connected with producer D.A. Got That Dope, who in turn linked him with Columbia Records, Goldn finally felt confident that he had the right resources to give the song the push it deserved. “It was one of those songs where you put it on and you knew it was going to be a hit,” he says. “It’s just about positioning it the right way.”
Proper positioning, in this case, also meant being patient, as it took listeners some time to connect with “Valentino.” Spotify editors were noticing the song on the viral charts, which in turn inspired the editors to add “Valentino” to more playlists. Sometimes it takes a minute for a track to pick up a head of steam.
“From there, it was a wrap,” he says. “Everyone got to hear it and really liked it.” The song’s plays skyrocketed, and Goldn’s Spotify listener count climbed into eight figures. He followed it up with the 2019 10-track Dropped Outta College EP, which includes a Lil Tjay remix of “Valentino” and its subsequent single “City of Angels,” which has also accumulated over 100 million plays to date.
Embracing all sides
On the EP, 24kGoldn flaunts a broad range of musical styles, which he attributes to his innately multidimensional nature. When asked to describe his sound, Goldn says his goal is to reflect as many facets of his life and personality as possible. “When I'm in the studio, I try to make a song that sounds different every time,” he says. “Nobody's happy all the time, nobody's sad all the time. Nobody's confident all the time, nobody is insecure all the time. It’s me going into myself and taking all the different life experiences and emotions I’ve had, and [asking] ‘How can I create a story from that?’”
An artist who heavily influenced 24kGoldn’s approach is XXXTentacion—he cites the late Florida rapper as an emblem of today’s increasingly borderless musical climate. “He would do a Spanish song, then do a screamo song, and then do an indie song,” Goldn points out. “The best part about being an artist in this day and age is the amount of freedom we have. We don't have to be restricted by genre anymore.”
These days, Goldn is focused on using the things that have happened since he became a star, including a brief stint studying at USC and touring the country, to lead to new, broader material.
“‘Valentino’ is always going to have a special place in my heart,” he says. “But the music is only getting better and better every single day. I've experienced so much more life since then, and made so much more music.”