Tldr: As the music industry shifts, user and automated playlists are becoming more integrated in the organic building of artists' online streaming audience.
As the age of the internet grows, the dependance on a record label has shifted downwards. Labels are still at the forefront of knowing the ins & outs of the industry (with a well rounded network & team, they can make sure all royalties are properly collected, artists are marketed, synchronization with film, tv, commercials etc), but a label is no longer mandatory to break out as an artist. (Prime example seen in u/harrydry's post on the marketing genius of Lil Nas X)
With enough time, we can step back and see different technology progression. What was once vinyl, progressed to tape, to CD, etc—– and has now become primarily digital (the )^(Stream! )*)
In today's streaming age, a digital presence has become one (of many) solid marker for the success or current status of an artist, but how does one reach an organic audience? u/harrydry covered an aspect of virality and the production of easily consumable snippets (ie: the memes or short clips posted by Lil Nas X ), so I'd like to cover another aspect; playlists.
Aside from burning mixes onto CD's in highschool, I stumbled upon (literally using the website "stumbleupon.com") the website 8tracks.com. 8tracks was a site in which users could make a playlist with a title, description, 5 tags, and at least 8 tracks. This streaming site was similar to that of pandora or spotify, but the significant differences were that; users made all the playlists and you couldn't stream songs individually. Once a playlist was made & published, a trending system could add the mix to a trending section for a short period of time. Based on the streams & “likes” a playlist got immediately after the release, it could remain in the trending section for a longer period of time, and possibly be moved into the “popular” trending section for even more exposure, much like reddits voting system (not only do these playlists exist in the trending sections, but they can be found by users via tags, and the more “trendy” a playlist was, the higher it would show in the search results via tags).
Unfortunately, this site 8tracks has gone under, but from about 2013-2015, it was an extremely powerful resource to gain organic moment for a song release. Essentially, by making a playlist (generally of a consistent atmosphere), and tagging it correctly, a song could in theory get millions of plays.
For example; by making a playlist for studying and using tags like "study, instrumental, relax, ambient, piano" a user could search these tags on the site & thus find their ideal mix. Then organically, based on the engagement, this playlist could reach upwards of tens of thousands of streams. (my most successful playlist reached over 750,000 streams -)
Another example of this concept can be seen with a trend of playlists being promoted on reddit. For example, by going into communities related to "studying, ambient music, relaxing, or piano", one might be able to find users that might be interested in engaging with that same playlist.
Now. Why is this relevant in a bigger sense?: Because finding active listeners that engage positively with a track is now correlated to an added algorithmic process that can organically build an artist;—– ie: spotify's algorithmic playlists like "Discovery Weekly", and "Release Radar" . By following the listening habits of its users, spotify's algorithms have gotten quite good at providing recommendations that users are most likely to enjoy.
That being said, one must still get creative when trying to reach their ideal audience, and reddit may be a new form of 8tracks.com that is here to stay!
Hopefully some of you have enjoyed this ted talk, & happy listening!
submitted by /u/dntst
The Modern Music Industry & It’s Playlist Centric Infrastructure.