Localify aims to put more local music in Spotify users’ playlists

Teams of researchers and students at Ithaca College and Cornell University have been working on a tool to inject more local music into people’s Spotify playlists. It’s called Localify, and works by getting people to choose their location and a selection of their favourite artists. “We’ll create playlists that mix your favorites with local artists while […]

Apple Music’s ‘Rap Life’ playlist spawns a Beats 1 radio show

Earlier this month, we reported on suggestions from Apple that there will be more Beats 1 radio shows based on Apple Music’s flagship playlists. Lo and behold, one launched on Friday. ‘Rap Life With Ebro Darden’ is based on the recently-rebranded ‘Rap Life’ hip-hop playlist, and is hosted by Apple Music’s global editorial head of hip-hop and […]

Spotify launches its ‘Daily Drive’ playlist in Germany

Spotify launched its ‘Daily Drive’ playlist in the US in June. Aimed at commuters, it was the company’s first algo-personalised playlist to combine music and ‘short-form podcast news updates’, with the aim of offering a more radio-like experience. Now Spotify has launched ‘Daily Drive’ in Germany too. As in the US, it offers a combination of “your favourite […]

Cardioid app offers context for Spotify’s algo-personalised playlists

In March this year, Music Ally wrote about a new music app called Crush, which aimed to bring together Spotify with artists’ own social-media feeds, to help listeners find out more about the musicians they were listening to – while listening. Seven months on, Crush is relaunching today with a new name, Cardioid, and a revamped iPhone app. […]

Now YouTube Music has some new algo-personalised playlists

More evidence of the commoditisation of certain types of music personalisation: YouTube Music has officially announced three new algo-personalised playlists. One we knew about: ‘Discover Mix’, which appeared in September and was quietly mentioned in YouTube’s launch publicity for YouTube Music’s launch in India. The other two are ‘New Release Mix’ and ‘Your Mix’. As the name […]

Apple Music UK launches a Black History Month ‘superroom’

In the UK, October is ‘Black History Month’, a celebration of the contributions made by black Britons down the years. Apple is celebrating the month too with what it’s describing as a ‘superroom’ on Apple Music. It includes guest playlists from black British artists including Beverley Knight, Slick Rick, Jorja Smith, Craig David, Mabel and Wretch […]

Report: North American music still tops for global playlists

Analytics firm Chartmetric has published its ‘Global Music Industry Data Report’ for the first half of 2019, digging in to data from platforms including Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Instagram and Shazam among others. The bit that’s making headlines so far (yes, including ours above) is the section analysing programmed playlists on the big services by […]

Chartmetric is making sense of DSPs’ playlist-ladder systems

Music-analytics firm Chartmetric has published a blog post outlining some of the findings from its ‘Pre-Playlist Analyzer’ and ‘Post-Playlist Analyzer’ tools, and it makes for interesting reading. The tools can be used to measure tracks’ progression from one programmed playlist to another on the key streaming services, in an effort to understand how the ‘ladder’ systems work, […]

What losing faith in playlists could mean for music marketing

Our latest issue of Sandbox went out to subscribers last night. In the cover feature, we look at how playlists marketing has gone through upheaval in recent months as the two biggest players (Apple Music and Spotify) take very different approaches to what playlists are and how they work. Weekly playlists are now squaring up […]

Sandbox Issue 236: Power Plays. THE NEXT STEP FOR PLAYLISTS

Lead: Playlists are still enormously important for breaking acts and for building careers – but they are increasingly a moving target that gets harder and harder to hit. As they change what they are, how they work and what they do, those marketing through playlists could find themselves shunted back to square one. This is […]

Taylor Swift’s ‘Enhanced Album’ Spotify playlist has 1m followers

According to Republic Records, Taylor Swift’s new album ‘Lover’ has whizzed past the mark of 3m ‘album equivalent units’ worldwide since its release a week and a half ago. Interesting, since a third of that consumption came from China alone. But we’re also interested in the role played by Swift’s ‘Love Taylor, Lover Enhanced Album’ playlist on […]

Mabel and Marshmello flex their curation skills on Apple Music

Are streaming exclusives dead? Not quite, but they tend to veer towards the promotional side of things nowadays: an album will be available everywhere, but (for example) live EPs are fair game for single-service exclusives. Witness Mabel’s ‘Stripped Session’ acoustic EP, which is exclusive to Apple Music. She is also the latest artist to turn […]

Taylor Swift to reveal new lyrics through her Spotify playlist

When we wrote last week about YouTube’s plans to host a live online event with Taylor Swift for the release of her new album ‘Lover’, we pointed out that other streaming services would be doing their own activations around the release. Spotify revealed its plans yesterday: a playlist called ‘Love, Taylor: The Lover Enhanced Album’. It’s starting […]

Spotify appears to be testing ‘stories’ for its playlists

Independent researcher Jane Manchun Wong has an excellent job: digging around in the code of smartphone apps to root out as-yet-unannounced new features. Her latest blog post is the result of a furtle within Spotify’s Android app. “Spotify is working on bringing Stories to Playlists, providing artists a way to connect with listeners through storytelling,” wrote Wong. […]

Earbuds is a startup for sharing celebrities’ music playlists

Once upon a time, there were some interesting startups whose business was based mainly on curated playlists. One of them, Tunigo, was bought by Spotify, and was an important driver for that company’s move into playlisting. Another of them, Songza, was bought by Google, and had an impact within that company’s music services too. But […]

Apple Music’s A-List rebranding continues with ALT CTRL

Apple Music appears to be moving through its flagship ‘A-List’ genre playlists one by one, rebranding them Spotify-style with their own identities. The company recently revamped its ‘The A-List: Hip Hop’ playlist as ‘Rap Life’, and now it’s the turn of its indie-focused sister playlist ‘The A-List: Alternative’. It’s now called ‘ALT CTRL’, according to Billboard, […]

Apple rebrands its flagship hip-hop playlist as Rap Life

However deliberate it was when they were originally created, Spotify’s playlists have got one thing very right in the current streaming age: RapCaviar, Viva Latino and others have become strong brands in their own right. Apple Music has been doing interesting things with its playlists too – for example commissioning artists to create original, varied […]

LGBTQ brand Gay Times is the latest Apple Music curator

The latest guest curator on Apple Music is Gay Times, the European LGBTQ media brand. It’s making a series of exclusive playlists for the streaming service, while the companies are also collaborating on a joint advertising campaign in the UK featuring artists including Kim Petras, Girli, Vincint and Alma, which ties in with this month’s […]

Spotify’s ‘Are & Be’ R&B playlist hits 5m followers milestone

The R&B-focused ‘Are & Be’ has become the latest Spotify-owned playlist to reach a notable milestone: five million followers. Spotify is celebrating by taking over a six-floor building in New Orleans for the Essence Fest music festival, and designating it ‘The House of Are & Be’ as a “multi-storied tribute to Black women in R&B and podcasts […]

Amazon debuts ‘Handpicked’ artist playlists, starting with Katy Perry

Ice cream. Weepy movies. Three-hour gym sessions. Howling at the moon like a crestfallen wolf. All good ways to respond to being dumped. Or you could listen to Katy Perry’s new ‘Songs About Moving On’ playlist on Amazon Music, of course. It’s the first in a new series of playlists for Amazon under the banner […]

Afriquency launches Africa-focused music-streaming playlists

A team working within African music distributor Africori has launched a series of playlists for global streaming services, which focus on music from Africa. The team is Afriquency, and its playlists include Afro Fresh Friday, Afro Vybz, La Fête (focusing on Francophone African music) and The New Collective (which focuses on emerging artists. “Africa is […]

Spotify targets US commuters with playlist of podcasts and music

Spotify has unveiled its latest algo-personalised playlist, Your Daily Drive, which is aimed at commuters in the US. “Music and news” is its thing: a mixture of familiar and new songs based on the tastes of each listener, but also “short-form podcast news updates” from outlets including the Wall Street Journal, NPR and PRI. Spotify says […]

Spotify criticised for its ‘big mood machine’ business

Journalist Liz Pelly has emerged as one of the more thoughtful (without pulling any punches) critics of Spotify: for example her examination of the gender skews of its big playlists last June, or her look at the ‘streambait pop’ sound last December. Her latest article takes aim at Spotify’s “Big Mood Machine” – the service’s ecosystem of mood-focused playlists – and […]

Bad Bunny and Nicky Jam on board for Spotify Viva Latino gig

Spotify’s efforts to take its big playlist brands into the physical world continue. On 30 August, it will hold the latest in its ‘¡Viva Latino! Live’ series of concerts, based on its flagship Latin playlist. Bad Bunny and Nicky Jam will headline the concert in Miami. It’s also the first time that ‘superfans’ of the […]

How can labels and musicians avoid the ‘dry streams paradox’ in 2019?

Music Ally wrote about the ‘dry streams paradox’ earlier this year in our Sandbox music-marketing report: it refers to the situation where millions of streams for a song driven by a popular playlist on Spotify or Apple Music doesn’t translate into engaged fans for the artist who recorded it. The topic was the subject for […]

The Night League teams with Apple Music for ‘Sounds of Ibiza 2019’

Apple Music has enlisted its latest brand to be a playlist curator: dance-music company The Night League. It has created a series of playlists that will sit within Apple Music’s ‘Sounds of Ibiza 2019’ hub, including collections based on specific Ibiza club brands like Ushuaïa, Hï Ibiza and ANTS. Guest DJs and residents from the clubs are […]

Music marketing in 2019: content, playlists… and Twitter skeletons

Musicians who are breaking through should be aware of any skeletons lurking in the cupboard of their past social-media posts, according to Andy Varley from music company Insanity Group. “In a generation where more and more artists are growing up through social media, you might have used Twitter as a conversational playground discussion platform as […]

How music companies are gaming streaming with “playlist stuffing”

Kieron Donoghue – founder of Humble Angel Records and former VP of global playlists strategy and curation at Warner Music – has been blogging about the trend of “playlist stuffing” that he has been spotting on streaming services. As songs qualify as a stream and, therefore, a payment after 30 seconds, he says a key tactic has […]

Deezer launches dedicated K-Pop channel after 157% growth

Deezer is launching a new hub for Korean pop music on its streaming service. The new K-Pop channel will feature programmed playlists (including some from guest artists like iKON and Stray Kids). “K-Pop is one of the world’s fastest growing genres and is resonating with more and more fans. Deezer’s streams of the genre have already increased […]

Spotify’s Austin Daboh says playlists need more diversity

Should some of Spotify’s big playlists be more diverse in terms of the artists featured on them? Yes… says Spotify’s head of music, culture and editorial in the UK, Austin Daboh. He was talking at radio DJ Annie Mac’s London conference on Friday about diversity. “I think it starts from the team. On my team […]

SoundCloud adds more ‘handcrafted’ playlists to its service

Good playlist curators are in demand in the modern streaming market. The latest service shouting about its tune-pickers is SoundCloud, which launched a selection of new “handcrafted” playlists yesterday. They include the rap-focused ’Noise and 808s’ and ‘Drippin’; electro playlist ‘Speed Bumps’; ‘DTFunk’ which promises to soundtrack “a freaky first date”; and ‘The Morning Mourning Playlist’ for […]

Artist Mike Casey talks streams, playlists and jazz growth

When we think of the musical genres that are benefitting most from streaming, it tends to be hip-hop, R&B, dance and pop. And when we think about the genres that may be getting something of a raw deal, jazz and classical often spring to mind. And yet… in both genres, there are artists who are […]

Report 422: Playlisting’s next leap forward

Playlists have been referred to as everything from the new album, the new compilation, the new greatest hits, through to the new radio, the new MTV and more. Whether you’re a pop act trying to build a truly global audience or just trying to make a living from making mood music, if you’re not on […]

Some of Spotify’s programmed playlists will now be personalised

Until now, there’s been a clear split within Spotify’s own playlists: some are programmed by humans – the streaming service’s editorial team – and others by algorithms: its personalised playlists like Discover Weekly, Release Radar and Daily Mix. Now those boundaries are blurring: some of Spotify’s human-curated playlists will now be getting a dash of […]

Dealing with the ‘dry streams’ paradox in the playlists era

Have you heard about ‘dry streams’ yet? They’re streams that come without a great deal of interest in the artist themselves: for example, on mood or activity-driven playlists on streaming services where listeners aren’t necessarily noticing who made the tracks. We’ve been exploring the phenomenon in our latest Sandbox digital-marketing report. “Being featured in large […]

Sandbox Issue 224: Up Hit Creek. THE DRY STREAMS PARADOX

Lead: The Dry Streams Paradox is when there is a huge gap between the number of streams an act gets and the number of fans they have or can reach. Just because someone plays one of your songs, it does not follow that they even know what your name is. Does this all mean that […]

Apple is giving playlists the album-artwork treatment

We’re ashamed to confess that we haven’t given that much thought to the artwork for the programmed playlists on music-streaming services. That said, we suspect a fair few of those services haven’t really made it a priority either, beyond ensuring the right artist or mood-signalling image is present with the correct corporate branding. So it’s […]

Albums in the streaming era: ‘Put the best six songs up front’

We’re well aware of the ‘don’t bore us – get to the chorus!’ maxim (cheers, Roxette!) for popular music in the modern streaming era. But that can now seemingly be extended to ‘don’t bore us – get to all the songs with good choruses quickly on the album please!’ At least, that’s the gist of an […]

UK broadcaster Fearne Cotton turns curator for Apple Music

We’re not sure how well-known Fearne Cotton is outside the UK: in Music Ally’s homeland she’s become a familiar face and voice through her TV and radio broadcasting. Now she’s become the latest curator on Apple Music. This is a proper partnership: Cotton is maintaining four different playlists on the streaming service, which is promoting […]

What’s next for playlists? Perhaps more context for the music

Former BPI and Spotify research exec Keith Jopling is now working with Midia Research among other music companies, thinking about big-picture strategy. His latest blog post, published for Midia, explores what the next evolution might be for music-streaming playlists. “There is plenty of scope for further creative development of the format. We are far from ‘peak […]

Amazon gets artist-curated International Women’s Day playlists

This Friday (8 March) is International Women’s Day, which has become something that pretty much every music-streaming service throws its weight behind in some way, particularly curated playlists. Amazon Music, for example, has roped in a bunch of ‘guest curators’ from the artist world this year, and it’s a super selection: *takes deep breath* Jess […]

Spotify cites Conner Youngblood as playlist-submission success

Spotify was recently under fire for the way playlist-pitching works for labels on its platform, but the company sees the playlists-submission tool it launched in July 2018 as a positive for artists. Its latest blog post outlines how the tool has worked for one artist, Nashville-based Conner Youngblood. After submitting his track ‘The Birds of Finland’ using Spotify’s tool, it […]

Pandora launches ‘stories’ as a blend of podcasts and playlists

Pretty much every social-media service now has ‘stories’ as a format, so why shouldn’t music-streaming services? However, Pandora’s launch of a ‘stories’ feature isn’t what you might expect (i.e. short video clips that expire after 24 hours). Instead, it’s a format that blends podcasts with playlists. “Podcasts can tell stories about music, but generally don’t include full […]

Pitch imperfect: ‘This process of trying to get on playlists is becoming borderline farcical’

Playlists continue to grow in prominence (within the music-streaming world) and importance (for artists looking for their breakout moment). So what are the latest trends that artists, managers and labels should be thinking about and responding to? A panel at the FastForward conference in Amsterdam today explored them. The panelists included Aditi Arora, director of […]

Spotify opens Discover Weekly playlist up to brand sponsorship

Spotify has a new way for brands to spend money with the company: by sponsoring its Discover Weekly algo-personalised playlist on the streaming service’s free tier. “For the first time, we are unlocking Discover Weekly for brands to sponsor this personalised moment end-to-end,” is how Spotify described the move. Microsoft is one of the first […]

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