Chasing Streams vs. Fans

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Every Monday, we take a look at a significant marketing statistic and how it relates to the music industry. Today, we consider how streaming algorithms are changing playlist strategies. Originally sent out in our Weekly Stat email.


The increase in the number of Spotify users who seek out a song for repeat listens after discovering it through a personalized playlist, compared to a curated one. 

Why this matters

After finding that users spend more time listening to personalized playlists than human-curated ones, Spotify announced in March that some mid-tier playlists will start including algorithmic suggestions based on listener behavior. 

This change is happening at a time where there is growing uncertainty about the benefits of being added to a big playlist. An artist might experience a spike in streams from the right placement, but this doesn’t always translate to ticket or merch sales or a deeper connection with fans. 

Ultimately, all streams are good news for labels, but what can artists and their teams do to build a fanbase that returns week after week? One answer is to provide listeners with a clear path to learning more about an artist outside of streaming platforms.

Set up retargeting ads, share behind-the-scenes videos, or create a newsletter that encourages further engagement after playlist discovery. This, in turn, begins the loop of organic searches, shares, and likes—important cues for algorithms to add music to more personalized playlists.

This post was expanded into “How to Maximize Your Playlist Strategy with Direct-to-Fan Marketing.”