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News March 5, 2020

Spotify’s music strategy boss talks Tones And I, shares playlist advice

Senior Journalist, B2B
Spotify’s music strategy boss talks Tones And I, shares playlist advice

Inclusion on a Spotify playlist can graduate a middling musician’s career into the big league. Cracking the streamer’s New Music Friday is like bagging national airplay only, well, its global. And Spotify has more than 270 million users.

Getting there is the tricky bit. It’s a melding of algorithms, ears, trade secrets, dark arts. The last bit, not so much.

Jeremy Erlich, Spotify’s Co-Head of Music Strategy, knows the process and he gave Forbes’ Danny Ross a look under the hood.

First up, the playlist submission tool is the only way the editorial team reviews music. “People may text me their song, but I tell them they need to submit it in the tool because that’s how you get playlisting,” he explains.

“Editorial decisions are based purely on the quality of the song and its fit in the playlist. I was just telling a label that everyone emailing me doesn’t increase your chances of getting on a playlist at all.”

A case in point is Tones and I’s ‘Dance Monkey’ has blasted past one billion Spotify streams. Another is Arizona Zervas’ ‘Roxeanne’. “No one was pushing those songs,” Erlich said. “They organically raised their hand and rose to the top. It’s just a testament to the democratization of playlisting.”

Watch Tones And I’s ‘Dance Monkey’:

Erlich recounted the streaming giant’s “discovery” of Tones And I. “We have editorial teams in every country. And we have global curation groups where everyone listening to pop music, for example, will share what’s happening in different countries,” he noted.

“Someone on our Australian team found Tones And I, put it on a local playlist, it did really well. Then someone in Scandinavia really liked it, put it on their playlist and it just started snowballing.

“Something like eight weeks after release, “Dance Monkey” was No. 1 on Today’s Top Hits on the cover.

Erlich also aired his anger against third-parties charging labels or artists to pitch their music to playlists.

“I hate it,” he countered. “They’re just scamming artists. There’s absolutely no promo in the streaming world. We don’t talk to any of these people at all. They’re scams. If I could snap my fingers and make them all disappear, I would. When people use our name falsely we try to stop them. If anyone tells you to pay for playlisting, it’s a lie. Going through the pitch tool is the only way.”

Today, Spotify has 3,000 curated playlists (they started with 100% human curation…they’re “algatorial”), and its curators spend 40% of the time choosing songs, and 60% of the time sequencing.

Read the full interview here.

This article originally appeared on The Industry Observer, which is now part of The Music Network.


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