It’s no secret that streaming is the future of music. Companies like Apple Music, Deezer, and most notably Spotify are able to make or break careers. This makes it a no-brainer that playlist curation has become as big as it has.
In the earlier days of the internet, music careers usually followed a specific formula. This formula was that of: Make music, Send out music, Promote on Social Media, Tour, and sell merch. The ones who ‘made it’ were typically fortunate enough to be able to build a team and even hire a publicist. It was typically at this point that these acts would then be almost automatically added to top streaming playlists. When you take this into account for a platform such as Spotify, which boasts a whopping 170 million monthly users, this can truly be a turning point for a career.
While the formula may still work with a select few, it is no longer a solid bet like it was before. It’s easy to see that those days, for the most part, are gone. In current times, playlist curators are the new gatekeepers, holding the keys to what can possibly be an artist’s breakout moment. While it most definitely pays to authentically build your brand and following over time, the use of playlist curation has changed this.
As Aric Jenkins of Fortune.com says, “If you have money, a new crop of companies will offer a shortcut.”. While this new industry is powered by Spotify’s platform, none of the companies actually work for Spotify. It should also be stated that you can not pay to be included on an official Spotify playlist. These companies do what is called “playlist pitching”, in that they pitch an artist’s music to independent playlist curators, who happen to own popular Spotify playlists. These services can run anywhere from $20, to hundreds of dollars, depending on the campaign. The thing about curators is that they can be any one. They can be your average user, or even a DJ themselves. None of this matters though, just as with other social media influencers, what does matter is the follower count.
One playlist pitching company called “The Falling Apple” which claims a network that contains “over 8 million Spotify followers and is managed by curators with ‘over 750 playlists’“. They also claim that the company has generated more than 210 million streams for clients. In addition they have secured more than 5,500 placements on playlists. With numbers like these it is easy to see why this is a booming business. They are quite literally holding the key to to what can be deemed a “success” in the streaming age. We should keep in mind that The Falling Apple is just one of the numerous playlist pitching companies.
Regardless of your feelings towards this business practice, it seems that it’s here to stay. The future will show us if Spotify decides to do anything about it, or not.