We recently discovered a cool, new music tool designed to analyze Spotify playlists, to see if they have real listeners. Known as Is It A Good Playlist?, the playlist analyzer is free to use and based on the Discovered On data from Spotify.
Just go to the website, copy/paste the playlist link, and then you’ll see the analysis + result.
We caught up with Julien Mahin, the man behind the new music tool, to get his insight on playlists, streaming platforms and more.
P&S: What was the jumping off point to start your project ‘Is it a good Spotify playlist?’
JM: In the last 7 years I have been developing multiple tools for the music industry, some of them to fill my own needs as a music lover, some others for companies or artists that needed to automate processes, generate reports, improve their marketing and much more.
Through all these projects I have noticed that most labels and artists bet everything on streaming platforms. Their goal is to get as many streams as possible, and one way they try to achieve this is to get their songs on good playlists. For major labels this is not an issue as they have their own network of playlists and they have a lot of data available from previous releases to understand which playlists are a good fit for the song and which results they can expect.
Indie artists or smaller labels sometimes struggle in this task. This is why we now see so many companies offering services such as ‘spotify playlists placements’ or at least submissions to curators. From the data we have gathered, I can say many (not all of them) are scam. They will take your money, put your song in playlists with a very big number of followers but you will not get any stream. The number of followers of those playlists is artificially increased with various tactics, none of them is actually listening to the playlist.
This was the starting of the ‘Is it a good Spotify playlist’: help people understand if the playlist they want to get on really has listeners, not just fake/inactive followers.
P&S: OK – so what is the secret to developing a ‘good Spotify playlist’?
JM: I don’t think there is one magic formula, this is in my opinion a complicated process that requires a lot for time. If I were to build a playlist to get real listeners, I would myself follow those principles:
– Avoid general genres or standard ‘Top 40’ playlists. Instead, focus on one genre which I like the most.
– Make the playlist around 50 songs long. This looks like the ideal duration, which is followed by many Spotify editorial playlists.
– Update the playlist once a week on a regular day to keep engagement with followers: if they know I update on Monday, there is a chance they will come back every Monday to listen to my new selection
– When I update the playlist, keep some of the previous tracks, do not replace all of them. This helps keep the current listeners so they don’t get lost.
– Not accepting submissions that do not fit exactly the mood of the playlist, even if I am offered money for this.
P&S: What are your thoughts on the business of music streaming?
JM: I think music streaming will definitely continue its growth and will be the key item in terms of revenue in the music industry, especially with the current situation without any live performances. I have two hopes for the future but unfortunately I am not convinced this will happen:
– I hope streaming platforms will be more open and share more data through their public APIs – for example number of streams, listeners of playlists, origin of streams (from a playlist, from the artist page, …) etc. This would allow us to build so many tools that will help artists and labels take the right decisions for their strategy.
– I hope streaming platforms will change their model to the User Centric Payment Model. To me it seems fair that if I pay 10€ per month for my Spotify subscription, the part that goes to royalties payment should go to artists I have listened to, not be used to pay major artists I never listened to. I think that would benefit indie artists so much, especially in the current period where streaming revenue could be their major/only source of revenue.
P&S: What are your thoughts on the business and culture and overall world of the ‘Playlist?
JM: Playlists have become a key item from the marketing strategy, labels and artists tend to consider this as the main source of streams which is probably true. In the last years I have seen the playlists branding evolve from a genre branding (such as ‘Top Dance tracks’, ‘New Deep House songs’ etc) to a mood or moment of the day (‘Saturday night party’, ‘Sunday Chill’ etc). This is also the case for many Spotify editorial playlists, and who better than Spotify to measure what kind of branding works best?
Playlist is the new album. Years ago when listening to music, you would have decided which artist you wanted to listen to and then start listening to his latest album in full.
Nowadays depending on how you feel or what kind of vibe you are into, you just hit play on the right playlist, letting the playlist/curator/algorithm decide what you listen to.
If the first songs on the playlists are what you expected and you like them, you are more likely to continue listening to the playlist, hence the importance for playlists to have the best songs at the top, or for artists to be at the top of the playlist.
There are of course still a lot of listeners who know which artist or song they want to listen to and go directly to the artist page, but this seems to be less the case over time, as I noticed doing an analysis on a small dataset one year ago. Habits evolve and today playlists have a large impact, so this should be one of the priorities in your marketing strategy.
P&S: What’s on the horizon for ‘Is it a good Spotify playlist?’
JM: This started just as a side project on which I worked for a few weeks to scratch my own itch. I thought this could be useful for many artists so I put it online as a free tool, and so far the feedback has been very positive. I have already received many feature suggestions and have selected some of them for implementation. So you can expect some minor new features in the next few weeks but mostly no big changes – it stays free and easy to use.
There is also the ‘Is it a good Spotify playlist’ newsletter that will start soon, for which you can already subscribe from the website.
I will send each week a selection of Spotify playlists accepting submissions. Unlike many other services or lists you could find online, those playlists will be selected manually and deeply analyzed to make sure they match our requirements to be a ‘good playlist’.
The goal is to help indie artists find the right playlists to submit their songs, but with a better quality than what you could find online here and there.