Rounding up 2019's Spotify for Artists Updates
New features, new events, and new resources for artists and their teams. Here’s everything that went down on Spotify for Artists in 2019.
It’s been a busy year over here at Spotify for Artists, and no doubt you’ve been crazed too, so just in case you missed them we wanted to round up some of our big 2019 updates—we’ve got a ton of useful info over here for you to tap into. For one thing, we updated the Spotify for Artists app and added a number of helpful new features and resources. There’s also all the editorial content and video series on the Spotify for Artists blog, including insights from experts across the music biz (we talked to 68 industry pros), plus practical and inspirational stories from artists (we interviewed 79 of them in 2019, including eight Grammy nominees), and much, much more.
1. Track real-time stats
There’s an intoxicating magic to seeing how many listeners around the world are listening to your music at that very moment. So this year, we made a number of enhancements to the stats offered in Spotify for Artists. Now—on web and in our mobile app—you get a real-time total listener count at the top of your dashboard, showing exactly how many people across the world are streaming your tracks. Plus, you can access a real-time listener count at the track level for first seven days after a new release.
2. Find playlist success
We're always analyzing our approach to playlists, working to make sure they help Spotify listeners find and fall in love with new music as seamlessly as possible—and by extension, that your music finds its way to all the fans out there who are destined to love it. We've fine-tuned the way some of our editorial playlists populate, personalizing the ordering of tracks for each individual user based on listening history (we ran the numbers—the improvement is real.) To help artist teams celebrate when they get playlisted, we’ve added a “unique link” in Spotify for Artists for personalized editorial playlists they’ve been added to. When a listener clicks a unique link, the track from that artist will be listed first in the playlist for 24 hours.
As we’ve continued to refine our playlist pitch process, we’ve seen just how powerful it can be when users discover your music that way. Artists like Elohim, Katie McBride, and Georgia have felt the impact, landing on playlists that have millions of followers and seeing direct spikes in their own followers, both online and off. All artists and their teams have access to this program—just sign into your Spotify for Artists account and pitch unreleased songs to our editorial team. Don’t forget to do this at least seven days before its release and make sure to add important information about the track—genre, mood, etc.—to improve the likelihood that it'll find its way to just the right playlist.
3. Take stats with you on the go
This September, we refreshed the Spotify for Artists app on iOS and Android with a new design and updated features, so you can take your stats with you wherever you are—from the studio to the road. We added a new personalized home screen with includes notifications and milestones about your music and playlisting, videos and blogs with useful advice, and product tips and tricks. Moreover, for users who work across a roster of talent, we added a new feature to easily switch between multiple artists.
4. Get creative with Canvas
We recently expanded the beta for Canvas, a new way for artists to enhance their tracks with looping visuals. We think of them as an evolution of album art for the streaming age. These moving images can add texture and context to your music and expand on your identity as an artist. Learn everything you need to know about Canvas—and see some great examples—at our new Canvas website.
5. Connect on the world’s leading music talent marketplace: SoundBetter
In another effort to help artists find and hire key collaborators, we joined forces with SoundBetter, a music talent marketplace that connects music professionals around the world. Artists are able to find work as a vocalist, market themselves, hire a studio wiz, or link up with a collaborator that may be far outside their own local networks. Tens of thousands of in-demand singers, songwriters, producers, engineers, and session musicians belong to the SoundBetter community, which now spans 176 countries. What better way to kick off 2020 than by making a potentially life-changing musical connection?
6. Share your music on Snapchat and Facebook Stories
One of our biggest goals for 2019 was to make the link between Spotify and social media easy and instantaneous, so you can reach your fans everywhere they are. Last year we made it possible to share your music on Instagram stories with just one click, and this year our Snapchat integration allows artists and listeners to share a song, album, podcast, or playlist right from the share menu. Once you send out your Snap, friends and fans just need to swipe up to open Spotify and start playing your music. We made a similar option available with Facebook Stories—which also includes a 15-second preview for viewers of any song you share.
7. Learn from Co.Lab events and our new Co.Lab video series
Our Co.Lab live events involve group talks and one-on-one advice from music biz veterans in select cities around the country. This year we expanded the series and filmed the events in order to share what we learned to a wider audience. In New York, music supervisor Morgan Rhodes and music marketer Sharell Jeffrey shed light on finding your right audience, while in Atlanta creative director Jasmine Benjamin and managing director of Janelle Monae’s Wondaland Mikael Moore offer advice on creating your visual identity. More recently we travelled to Nashville to get the skinny on release strategies from industry experts including Cameo Carlson from artist manager services and development company mtheory, as well as hearing from the artist’s perspective with R.LUM.R.—and this is just a few of the expert talks we have on deck for you to dive into. Keep your eyes peeled for the publication of our LA talk series early next year, plus forthcoming Co.Lab events.
8. Take advantage of some pro tips
In 2019 we continued our Best Advice video series which expanded in scope, dropping monthly episodes including legends like Bikini Kill's Kathleen Hanna, Cyndi Lauper and Elton John as well as newer artists like Grammy nominee Tierra Whack, and Trippie Redd, to name a few. These artists were keen to relay the best advice they’ve ever received including more philosophical tips on forgiveness, patience, and the creative process, as well as practical guidance about building a team, and booking certain venues at certain points in your career.
Plus we continued our video series The Game Plan, now in its third season. This time we brought together artists and industry movers and shakers to offer lessons on sync licensing, the basics of music business, and avoiding creative burnout.
9. Promote your music with Spotify Ad Studio and Marquee
In 2019, we enhanced Ad Studio by rolling out a new set of “streaming conversion metrics” to help music marketers, labels, and artist teams understand how their audio ads on Spotify impact listeners. Whether it’s reaching new listeners or connecting with existing fans, now you can see exactly how the campaign made waves: How many went on to listen to your tracks and how many saved your music to their library. Investing in marketing your music is a big step—Spotify can help make sure you’re spending your money wisely and getting results for your budget.
We also launched a beta of a new marketing tool called Marquee where artist teams can use a full-screen mobile placement to reach their audience on Spotify and create deep fan engagement with their new album. Since launch, artists big and small—signed to major labels or working independently—have had the opportunity to use the power of Spotify to get the attention they need for their new release. We’re looking forward to expanding over time in 2020, so if you’re interested artists and labels can reach out to their Spotify rep or their distributor to learn how to get involved in the beta.
10. Use the perspective of our industry insiders
Understanding all the ins and outs of the music industry can be downright daunting, especially for newer artists. This is why we gathered an esteemed group of industry pros to break down every aspect of building a meaningful music career. A&R rep Ricky Singh reveals what makes for a successful band, engineer Noah Mintz explains what mastering is all about, tour managers Greg Daly and Greg Marvin discuss the importance of being on time, and Live Nation promoter Christian McKnight shares his advice on getting that coveted support slot. Meanwhile, indie label founder Matt Linden gives his do’s and don’ts for submitting your demo, while veterans from Sub Pop, Daptone, and Motown take us into the intricate world of labels.
11. Educational How-To's
One of our main missions is to be a resource for artists (and their teams), so as well as all the Co.Lab content and The Game Plan series, over the course of 2019 we published 18 educational how-to’s, tackling a ton of topics that can be tricky to navigate. We shared some advice on things like beating writer’s block, getting press, establishing your brand, the importance of press photos, how merch comes into play, what terms to know when you enter the studio, how festival line-ups are curated, how gear sponsorships work, and what to know about mastering. We also focused on vocal health tips from actual doctors, and even went as far as to list out the do’s and don’ts of things like where to start if you’re just getting started, sample clearances, promoting your work, submitting your demo to a label, and making the most of a music conference.
12. Follow our release guides
Our tools are here to help you attract the biggest possible audience to your new music, and we put together a three-step process for how to approach your release using some of our features: Step 1: Prepare for release day Step 2: Find your audience and grow your followers Step 3: Reflect on your release
Additionally, because we know how important prepping for a release is for artists we dedicated eight articles (and one full Co.Lab sesh) to release strategies. Full-lengths, EPs, mixtapes, singles, and beyond: There are a lot of ways you can package your music to reach your fans, and we spoke with artists who were making deliberate choices regarding how they approached their releases in 2019. We talked to Jessie Reyez about EPs and Lucy Dacus about her “slow music” release strategy; we shared Tamino's thoughts on releasing a live album, Young Guv's experiences with navigating label choices, and Kyle Craft’s advice on taking your time to get it right.
13. It’s not all business—your mental health is key
This topic is of increasing importance to the world at large, and within the artist community, there’s plenty to unpack. We wanted to take the time this year to offer some handy information from mental health professionals, tips from a wellness advocate, funding options from a label aiming to give its artists mental-health support, and a first-hand account from a singer who lives with schizophrenia in hopes of getting artists and their teams to talk about it more. Furthermore we touched on sobriety and addiction, corralling some information on resources that exist to support anyone on their sober journey or path to sobriety and specifically how they can stay focused when on tour.
And that’s about all from us in 2019, see you in the new decade!
—Spotify for Artists