Today's measures of success on music streaming platforms come down to stream counts and followers — and for obvious reasons — but the primary movers in this regard are playlists. The more playlists a track gets added to (theoretically) the more streams and (hopefully) the more followers for the artist.
Importantly, the more playlists a track gets added to, i.e., the more playlist adds a track gets, the more significant the curatorial groundswell surrounding that track, editorial or otherwise. That's because both editors and everyday listeners alike are making the active choice to add that particular track to their playlists, thus influencing the behavior of other listeners: a potential chain reaction of streams.
To us, looking at first-time playlist adds in Part 2 of our new 6MO report was super important, because it ruled out the possibility of tracks being added and removed from the same playlist multiple times, and it also (theoretically) privileged artists being added to playlists for the first time — a potential proxy for finding breakthrough artists.
So, who were some of the most added artists of H2 2019 on Apple Music, Deezer, Amazon Music, and Spotify?
Like we saw in Part 1 of our 6MO: Breakthrough Artists report, TikTok has proven instrumental for breaking new artists across the streaming landscape. In terms of artists added to the most playlists for the first time, this was particularly true of one artist: Regard.
The Kosovo-born DJ has been held in high esteem for his pioneering work in the Balkan dance scene over the last decade, but he's never really broken onto the international stage in a big way. However, his remix of Jay Sean’s 2008 hit “Ride It” started to generate buzz on TikTok early last year, and British entertainment group Ministry of Sound picked up on the success from there.
Once the label re-released the track on July 26, 2019, it pulled in millions of streams across the digital landscape, ultimately giving it a No. 3 spot on Apple Music and a No. 4 spot on Deezer in the race for most first-time playlist adds during the 6-month time period of July-December 2019. Unsurprisingly, Tones and I was the other big breakout of 2019 in this regard, riding her TikTok virality to No. 1 on both Deezer and also Apple Music.
Interestingly, relatively unknown Brazilian Rock band Balara popped up in the No. 2 spot on Deezer, which was impressive upon first glance; however, a closer look at their playlist follower reach demonstrated the disproportionate influence of editorial playlists vs. non-editorial playlists and the importance of thinking about the relationship between different metrics.
On Amazon Music, the story was a bit different, with two American Country to Pop crossovers — Maren Morris and Taylor Swift — snagging the No. 2 and No. 4 spots, respectively. This tracks with what we discovered in our last 6MO report: The Country genre, along with the U.S. artist landscape (not to mention smart speaker penetration), has likely played a big part in Amazon Music's growth.
For Spotify, things got a bit more surprising, with a robust user-generated playlist ecosystem coming to the fore. 18.8-23.8K was the first-time playlist add range for the Top 5 most added artists on that platform, indicating thousands — if not hundreds of thousands — of opportunities for artists to get added and discovered.
But the story wasn't quite so simple....