Spotify for artists

Tis the season for all kinds of reflection over the past year and Spotify has a cool little tool they provide for artists to give them a snapshot for how their music is working there. I have to admit that I had never even signed up for a Spotify artist account but I took a moment and did. Here is the little snapshot thing they came up with for me.

Like I said, I have never paid much attention to Spotify. I knew I was earning a bit of money there, but also knew that it was not really significant. However, I have noticed that my professional musician friends that depend on streaming for their income have shifted a lot of focus from Pandora to Spotify. I will talk about how they are doing that in a second.

So, about my numbers. First, they are higher than I expected and they are growing pretty fast. That surprises me a little because Spotify’s audience is in general not my target audience. For example, my audience tends to be 35+ in age while a healthy majority of Spotify’s audience is younger than 35. That demographic in particular is the primary reason I have never focused on Spotify.

While the numbers are higher than expected, they are dwarfed by my numbers on Pandora and even YouTube. I think I will have somewhere over 2 million views on YouTube in 2018 and a total hours listened of maybe 350,000. Pandora will end up at several times the numbers of YouTube at least in streams (they don’t provide total hours listened stats and I don’t know that their “fan” count is very accurate at all).

That being said, Spotify pays way better than YouTube and Pandora. I don’t monetize YouTube (I could but would have to show ads) and Pandora generates around $1000 per million spins or $0.001/spin. However, if you pretty much own your song or it is public domain, you can earn 4 to 8 times that much on Spotify.

In other words, my 600K spins on Spotify in 2018 probably translates into between two and three thousand dollars. I don’t really know exactly how much off the top of my head because I just get bank deposits that contain all these streaming sources combined. I could go figure it out– but you can find plenty of other artists online giving their numbers to the penny.

So how do you get on Spotify? The answer is pretty much the same way you get on any streaming source. Pay to put your album on CDBaby or TuneCore and sign up for digital distribution. They will do the rest and of course will take a small cut of what you get paid.

Once you are on Spotify, you can do what I do and just ignore it and hope it grows. Or, you can do what my professional music friends do and promote playlists. Playlists are a key to growing exposure in Spotify in the same way that Pandora’s algorithm, that plays your music on similar artists’ stations, grows exposure.

In a nutshell, what my friends do is all partner together to build a playlist in Spotify of maybe 25 artists with one song each.  Then they all promote it to their fans. When their fans listen, they are getting exposure to the other 24 artists. It is a synergistic approach to help each other.

Like I said, I am seeing way more focus on Spotify playlists than Pandora these days. I suspect it is working for them.

Again, your success on Spotify is going to depend at least partly on the demographics of your fans. Not all artists are going to see good results there. On the flip side, if you are already on CDBaby or TuneCore, make sure you are at least opted in for digital distribution to Spotify. You have nothing to lose and possibly a lot to gain.