Are playlists the best new method of exposure for artists?
Like social media, streaming playlists are viral in nature: Add a track to a popular playlist and listeners as well as friends’ listeners will save the song to their playlists. Getting a song onto a hot playlist is most likely to ensure great awareness.
Lorde was an unknown New Zealand teenager until Sean Parker, founding President of Facebook, added her Royals track to his Hipster International Spotify playlist. Parker’s 800,000 Spotify followers seized upon the track, adding it to their own playlists.
External curators of famous Spotify playlists ask labels for money in return for adding their tracks to those playlists.
Payment for playlist placement can range from “$2,000 for a playlist with tens of thousands of fans to $10,000 for the more well-followed playlists” according to the Billboard report.
These fees are more affordable than the hundreds of thousands it can cost for radio pluggers to get a song on commercial radio. Industry executives think that pay for play placement is fairer than what they were used to before. “If one playlister doesn’t like us, we go onto the next one,” said Streaming Promotions co-founder Charles Alexander to Billboard. “At consolidated radio, if someone doesn’t like us, we’re dead in the water.”
Record labels are willing to pony up thousands of dollars for placements, according to the report, but Spotify may soon be cracking down these ‘’playola’’ playlist payments. Some marketing companies move around Spotify's rules by paying around $100-$150 to tastemakers on a consultancy basis, rather than for song placement. The payment is reportedly intended to guarantee that a playlist creator hears and considers a client's music.
What does that mean for developing artists? A less expensive opportunity to get their music heard or another closed door to recognition, which can only be opened with the key of money?