Keeping it real with your song's streams and views
Performers on the Go, LLC is daily answering questions on the best practices for growing a song’s streams on streaming platforms, so we have compiled our knowledge together to provide some guidelines and processes for keeping your campaigns real and organic. During the pandemic artists in our programs wrote over 40 new songs, and our marketing efforts on new songs have contributed to over 1.3 million Spotify streams. Our company spends hours each day working with artists to get their songs streaming and reaching greater market visibility. Our initial goal is to have songs streaming on over 1,000 streams within the first few days of the song’s release, and we are at an approximately 95% success rate. We have been able to achieve this through the utilization of our own networks, our playlist databases, implementation of a strategic marketing campaign, heavy submissions to curators, a strong PR campaign, and coaching the artists on the hands on playlist pitching and marketing process.
One real stream/view is more valuable than 50,000 bought streams/views, as every new fan generates more activity than streams. Operating a hands on marketing plan is so rewarding, as you get to see firsthand the impact of your efforts. Artists are entrepreneurs, so protecting your songs which are your gold laden assets, should be your top priority. Operators and industry service providers who promise you a high number of streams/views should be evaluated, and their resources and approaches reviewed and understood.
It is exciting to see streams rolling in, but it is the real streams that matter!
This is a comprehensive blog and mini tutorial/eBook on the playlist review process, and how best to circumvent computer bots and unwelcome streams/views, that are not real and are not from real fans.
Artists who are hands on in their song’s marketing can learn a lot from this blog's content, and over time can more readily detect streaming activities that are suspect. It is natural to watch what your peer musician successes online, and common to compare your own numbers to others. However, it is important to recognize you do not know the process they followed to get there, and that there are so many variables that determine the success of a track. As an example, don’t compare your streams to the streams of an artist who is investing in an ongoing marketing campaign of over $2,000+ a month. The variables that determine the success of a track are important to understand and are summarized below.
The quality of the song
The quality of the production
The ability to place the song
The song promotion/marketing budget
The financial and artist commitment to marketing the song
The genre fit and placement strategy
A successful pre-save campaign
The artist’s email list and online following
The artist’s direct marketing commitment
The reach of the company an artist uses for marketing
The industry network of the marketing company you are using
The song's uniqueness and if it is considered current
When artists have a new song released, there are many approaches they can pursue on organizing a song promotion plan. On each release, it is a great opportunity for artists to learn how to develop a marketing plan and strategy for elevating the visibility and engagement on their songs. Engagement includes shares, follows, streams, views, comments and posts. Performers on the go tracks every activity by artist to be able to monitor the song's progress. We focus on every movement so we can determine the approaches that work best. A plan that shows growth and consistent streaming in its first few months is our mission. Songs which have heavy bot activities will not have numbers in all the metric categories.
It is very important the quantitative numbers associated with your song are clean numbers which are free of excessive bots. It is a lot of extra work to put lists through the evaluation process to quality them as safe lists, but it is recommended you check on the larger lists and on any lists in question. The industry executives can detect the presence of a bot dominated Spotify account, if the bots dominate the streaming numbers. Some of the approaches to marketing a song follow:
100% organic plan: Sharing the song to your fans, social network, email list and social sites. There is no added investment in this approach outside of the time commitment to participate in the direct marketing activities.
Combination organic plan with influencer support and playlist marketing. This approach requires hands on playlisting to curators and bloggers. In today’s climate, influencers frequently request a fee for creating a song review, artist interview, or blog post, and placements on playlists of all sizes frequently have placement fees. It is important to investigate each playlist, especially those with over 50,000+ followers, to confirm the playlists are free of bots. Placements on larger lists can generate strong streaming activity, so it is good to add some larger lists to your campaign. It is helpful to establish a budget to cover blogs and playlist placements, as anyone who places your track or promotes the song on a blog may require a placement/processing fee.
·Influencer support approach by promoting through direct playlist placements, bloggers and music influencers; paid and unpaid placements and exposure opportunities.
Hire a music marketing or playlist management company to promote your song. Playlist management companies will post the song to their playlists and pitch it out to operators in their network. The placements to larger lists will most likely have a fee.
·Purchase streams and views. This approach is not encouraged as it does not promote fan growth and engagement. it can also harm an artist’s image and brand, as it is can be recognized by viewers as not being a real fan following and the numbers as being fake. It is also more evident if the artist has a small number of fans and low engagement across all social sites, if they suddenly show 100k+ or quick overnight surge in views on YouTube or in Spotify streams. It could be a viral following, but it is hard to achieve this without a substantial follower base, and an early and upfront marketing commitment.
One example of a successful plan that produced favorable results was for the song "Locked In" by Catching Arrows. The campaign heavily focused on playlist placements and had a high acceptance rate, even on submissions on the free upload sites. Performers on the Go also placed the song on 500+ collaborative playlists which kept the stream flow consistent.
The fears of most artists when they release a new song follows:
Having low streams and engagement
Showing <1000 on their Spotify account and no actual streaming numbers
Receiving bot generated streams and follows
Having no playlists listed on “discovered by” section on Spotify
Receiving No PR or recognition on their music
Receiving unfavorable reviews
Seeing no love generated on their song
Inability to trigger the Spotify algorithm playlists
On new song releases there is a big learning curve to become proficient in the marketing process. Anything you do can generate a stream, so a multi-pronged approach can work well. Once you see where you are getting the most results you can focus on those areas the most. Artists are busy, so we typically see the following activities on new songs:
Posts to Instagram stories
Posts/stories on TikTok
Posts of the song link on social media
Posts to Facebook group pages focused on music promotion
Marketing on a pre-save campaign
We find artists don’t focus on their email lists which is an area that all artists should make a priority. It is a great way to connect with fans on new releases, shows, announcements and news. Additionally, people who know you will more likely save your pre-save campaign and follow you on Spotify.
Every day artists like to check Spotify for Artists Page on your new release hoping you will see placements on the Spotify algorithms and or on editorial playlists. There are thousands of them, so it is possible to see your song land on some here and there. Usually, when you land on one editorial you will land on others, and that added activity can trigger the Spotify algorithm. Currently, it does seem much harder to land on the high almighty Spotify algorithm, and when you are provided no roadmaps on how to make it happen, it makes it even tougher to achieve or feel any confidence it will happen. The advantage is that it can be like hitting the slot machines as one surge or placements on algorithm playlists can prompt more surges. This activity can then mount up streams, so you can just sit back and watch the show and see your overall streams grow.
For some reason, it seems much harder to trigger the algorithm today than it did even a year ago. This could be due to the high volume of new releases each week, making it harder to attract attention to your song. Using basic commonsense, it makes sense that the Spotify algorithm will see your song if it is getting a lot of traction, and has a high level of activity surrounding it. While there is no manual on the process you need to take to get there, it is clear that activity at every phase of your release is important.
Starting at the beginning, you need to initiate an aggressive pre-save campaign. This requires that you have a database of fans, friends and followers, and also a strong following on your social accounts. One target would be to obtain over 1000 pre-saves for your new release, as anything less would attract little attention. For new artists this is super tough to do, but you need to start somewhere and can begin by targeting to create a database of over 200 contacts. Next, you need to increase the overall volume of actions or activities on your new release. Some actions to focus on follow:
Song saves on Spotify
Placements on playlists, both users, curators and collaborative playlists
Follows on your Spotify account
An accumulation of over 1000 actions (saves, shares, streams, views, etc.) is a good target to work towards. There are thousands of collaborative playlists, and they are free to place your songs on, so that is an easy route to take. Start with 200 and build from there. You can initiate the placements, and also once on a list can move your song to the top by clicking on it and dragging it higher. All this added activity will get you more streams. We are testing this out now and are utilizing our collaborative database to place songs. The database currently has over 600+ collaborative playlists, and we are adding to it every day.
Performers on the Go can get you started on placing your song on 500+ collaborative lists and can instruct you on the process. More exposure means more streams!
Avoiding playlist bots
Addressing the review process on all playlists can be a daunting process. It is, however, important to do a simple test on qualifying playlists as being bot-free, on any new group of playlists.
We have new research techniques for qualifying playlist curators, and it is easy to do. We work on developing techniques every day and feel these two search options will help a lot. It will be an ongoing challenge and all artists need to own this process, since it is their assets/songs involved. There are companies who have research services you can hire also.
We recently noticed a playlist on some artists pages that was activating the Spotify algorithm. After much research, we concluded the playlist was a bot farm playlist. None of the artists have been on many other playlists, and their Spotify follower base wouldn't generate much activity organically, so it is suspect that their streams are all coming from bots. We can't possibly know 100% if a list is clean, but doing some front-end research will help. You also don't want to shy away from playlists, as there are over 8.5 million in existence and a large majority are clean of bots.
Use the Spot on Track research tool to help in analyzing playlists. You will need to pay a monthly fee to use their platform, but it is worth the small price. Before getting on any playlists, you need to vet them as best you can. We know it is hard to be 100% certain if a list has bots, but doing some basic tests will help you verify if there are red flags. What you are looking for is if there are any unusual patterns in the follower base showing large daily drops. You click on playlist in the menu, add the Spotify playlist link and see what data there is on the list. Click on followers and you can see a chart showing the trends.
Another technique for researching for bots is to use the Facebook ads Manager. Anyone can view ads on any company who has or is running them on the platform, and with curators if they are active in their marketing, you should be seeing ad activity. If there is no activity that is a sign their followers are bots, as you will need to advertise to grow your followers.
Steps to take to analyze for bots on Facebook Ads Manager:
Log into your Facebook account
In the search window on the top left type in the name of the company that owns the playlist
Once on their page, click on Page Transparency on the bottom right
Click "See More"
Click on Bottom right go to "Ad Library"
You will now be able to see all the ads the curator is running
The other option is to go right to the ads manager in Facebook at https://facebook.com/adslibrary. You can type the company you are searching in the search bar.
If bots dominate your account, it will be difficult to get on algorithm or editorial playlists. You will also most likely not get on the "Fans also like" which will show at the top of your Spotify account under your name.
In order to verify the presence of bots, you need to assess the history of the follower base on playlists. If the followers drop greater than 20% in a day, that is a clear sign there are bots present. To obtain this information is difficult unless you subscribe to services like Chartmetrics or Spot on Track. You can also take another step and see if the artists on the list have a following and have realistic numbers.
How is this possible to be certain the playlists your song is placed on are free of bots with over 8.5 billion playlists in existence? We know this is an ongoing challenge for musicians, but every artist should be on the lookout for concerning trends in their streaming activities on their music. It is true that once your songs get distributed all over to streaming platforms, that you lose control over where it ultimately ends up, so you should frequently check Spotify for artists and other review platforms to assess the activity and determine if anything looks questionable. It is understood artists are focused on a lot of tasks in managing their music careers, but adding this knowledge and engaging in the process of reviewing where your song gets placed, is super important. There are potential risks to being on bot playlists, the most significant of which is that Spotify can remove you from their platform. Another issue is that the Spotify algorithm will not recognize your songs if they are on a high volume of bot playlists.
Each day you should log down the key numbers on your song, follow your progress and note any changes that are significant. Setting up a Google document to track the numbers is a great approach. Numbers to log down include the following:
Having the numbers and trends to review will help you spot any unusual activities on your song.
How do you know for sure if a playlist is plagued with bots? Artists are busy, and there is no exact process of how to be sure when a list has bots. You can, however, do some simple tests on your own which can provide an indicator that there may be lists that are not considered clean.
Here are some of the steps to follow to identify potential bot loaded playlists:
On playlists with a large follower base, follow the trends in their total followers. If a playlist suddenly drops 25% of its follower base in a short period of time that may be indicative there is an issue or bots present. Over 50% swings in the follower base is more reason to put it through more tests with data that is accessible to you. Below are some research techniques for qualifying playlists.
Look at the top trigger cities in your audience in Spotify for Artists. If there are cities listed that are not major music hubs and are locations with smaller populations that presents a red flag.
Look at the followers on the playlists and see if they have a following and are legitimate Spotify artists.
Look at the artists on the playlists. If none are recognized artists, that is an indicator it is a bot loaded playlist.
Observe the song’s artwork and assess if it is professional or something thrown together, as that is another factor.
Look to an artist’s “Fans Also Like” section to get a sense of what Spotify’s algorithm is associating with the artist. See if it is a random group of artists, they align you with, and check if they are in your genre.
Look at your saves on Spotify for artists. If you have a healthy save number, it is a good sign you are running a heathy organic marketing campaign. Also, if the listeners to total streams is 2% or less, you need to be concerned with bots.
On the back end, the metrics may indicate the popular review ratios are off kilter like the listener ratio being under 15%.
Track the save rate of Spotify saves to total streams, and if it is lower than 3% this may indicate there is not much organic activity.
Tracking the songs streaming growth and trends is also a helpful metric to review. If you are on a playlist with a lot of songs and mostly unrecognized artists and are accumulating a high volume of streams at 2,000+ a day, the streams may be coming from bots.
Strange or poor grammar in the playlist title, so as an example instead of Pop Favorites it says something like Pop___$$%!!!.
Keep this tutorial on how to keep streams real in a place for easy access. If you learn one new approach each week on how to keep your streams real, it is a step in the right direction. Anyone can bolster their numbers by purchasing YouTube views and Spotify streams. Most operators will advertise their approaches are “organic”, but it is your job to confirm and qualify their operation is clean and free of bots. It is also important to not focus on artists who utilize suspect approaches to obtaining streams and views, and develop your own system of keeping your streams real and organic. You will learn new techniques every day, and will be able to incorporate an easy to follow system to attracting organic streams.
Feel free to reach out to us for the following playlisting services:
Writing playlist pitch
Preparing press release on new release
Developing a playlisting strategy
Initiating a playlisting campaign
Analyzing streaming/playlisting results
Patricia Duffey, CEO