Guest post by Sam Chennault

It’s accepted wisdom that the impact of music media has greatly diminished over the past decade. Intuitively, it makes sense. When there are millions of people shouting, the voices of a few are drowned out, regardless of how influential or learned those voices may be.

The new gatekeepers that have emerged in this vacuum are virtually anonymous Spotify playlist programmers. This also makes sense. Playlists are the new radio, and they are incredibly effective at getting an artist’s music heard. A “hit” track in Spotify is seeded to playlists that have tens of millions of followers, and an artist can quickly acquire millions of monthly listeners based on these placements.

But not all engagements are created equal, and having people hear your music just isn’t enough. You may be on 1,000 playlists that 15 million users follow, but royalty rates are staggeringly low, and how many of those casual listeners are going to buy your $35 tee or shell out $40 to see you in concert? You don’t just want listeners; you want fans. But how do you get these fans, and what’s the best way for an artist to measure success?

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