Decision-making in the music industry is increasingly about innovative insights and being the first to discover new trends, artists, and opportunities to engage audiences.
In today’s streaming economy, artist success on Spotify is one of the leading indicators of artist success across streaming and social platforms and music industry verticals, which is what makes understanding your artist Spotify data so important.
Brief History of Spotify
While Spotify officially formed in 2006, Daniel Ek originally developed his idea for a service that was “better than piracy but at the same time compensates the music industry” in the wake of Napster’s fall in 2002.
At the time of Spotify’s founding, Ek was CEO of uTorrent, a digital piracy and peer-to-peer sharing platform. Following uTorrent’s acquisition by BitTorrent in late 2006, Ek doubled down on his vision for digital and economic innovation in the music industry … and the seeds of the streaming revolution were sown.
In 2008, the Spotify application launched in Sweden, with founders Ek and Martin Lorentzon announcing licensing — and ownership — deals with the major labels (Sony Music Entertainment, Universal Music Group, and Warner Music Group). A year later, the company had expanded to the United Kingdom, and two years after that, in 2011, the United States.
By that time, Spotify had a paid subscriber base of about 1 million in Europe, and in 2012, that number had ballooned to 4 million worldwide. Four years later, Spotify announced 40 million paid subscribers and 100 million total users, cementing streaming as the new mode of global music consumption in the music industry.
Just before that milestone, Fan Insights made its way into the platform’s back-end, allowing some artists and their teams to see a limited amount of information about their streaming data, from demographics to geography. In 2017, Fan Insights became Spotify for Artists, giving all artists and their teams a window into their stream, listener, demographic, and geographic trends on the platform.
In 2018, Spotify made their Initial Public Offering with a market capitalization of almost $30 billion, and with more and more global markets continuing to come online, Spotify analytics for artists and their teams are only increasing in importance.
Leveraging Your Spotify Analytics
For both tracks and albums, what makes Spotify for Artists so valuable for an artist and their team is an absolute count of an artist’s streams, listeners, and saves. That’s something you can’t really get anywhere else. The analytics platform also provides an easy-to-understand breakdown of playlist categories (algorithmic, editorial, and listener generated) and absolute counts for listeners and streams of an artist’s tracks on those playlists.
Not only can you track an artist’s all-time listener, stream, and follower growth, but you can also compare that artist’s stats with up to two other artists over the last seven days, the last 28 days, and since 2015.
As far as listener metrics go, you can see a breakdown of your stream sources, from your own profile and catalog to listeners’ own playlists and libraries to other listeners’ playlists to algorithmic vs. editorial playlists. Drawing from this data, Spotify for Artists generates a “Listeners also like” section, which includes 10 or so similarly listened to artists — another great way to see how you stack up against a similar grouping of artists.
If you’re looking for a gender and age breakdown of your listeners, along with absolute counts for country- and city-specific listeners around the world, Spotify for Artists has that, too — plus, you can edit your Spotify artist profile, make artist playlists, promote your concerts, and feature your newest track.
For artists and their teams, having these detailed insights into streaming metrics makes Spotify for Artists an absolutely essential tool in today’s increasingly data-driven industry.
From Metrics to Making Moves
"That's the point. Data can help you learn things maybe you hadn't even thought about before." - Kamaya Jones, Spotify User/Researcher
Spotify has made an engaging and easy to understand educational content series called "The Game Plan" that you should definitely check out to not only understand Spotify for Artists better, but more importantly, make it count!
When it comes to specifically using your data (not just staring blankly at it), the videos are very clear that creativity is not limited to the studio, but in how you do business as well.
DATA SAID: In "How to Read Your Data", indie pop act slenderbodies found they were playlisted in categories like "Chill Pop" and "Chill Vibes", which veered more electronic, even though they considered themselves more organic and acoustic.
ACTION: slenderbodies thought they could do DJ sets in clubs on the side, breaking from their routine, which is their full-band live stage setup.
"You can grow your audience by running campaigns on social media, but you also want to know if you're attracting fans with your selfies, or fans of your music." - Charleton Lamb, Spotify
DATA SAID: In "Using Spotify Data for Digital Campaigns", Los Angeles producer TOKiMONSTA discusses how she looks not just at her overall stream count, but which tracks were listened to the most.
ACTION: TOKiMONSTA then learns about any unexpected album tracks that got attention (that she secretly loved herself), and then re-releases it as a new single to better connect with her fans.
"The insights in Spotify for Artists can show you data about your listeners' age, gender and location. Seeing this data can really help you feel more connected to your audience because now you have a better understanding of who they are and where they are." - Emily White, Spotify Product Manager
DATA SAID: In "Understanding Your Audience", London-born, LA-based Jay Prince found out that 50 to 60 year olds listened to his music, as well as fans in Japan and Taiwan, none of which he expected. He was also able to confirm he had Spotify listeners in Los Angeles and Australia, which he was already expecting.
ACTION: Spotify suggested he could use this to help route his next tour, or using those stream counts to impress festivals for available slots or potential sponsors when approaching them with business deals or pitches for advertising campaigns.
All in all, the main takeaway is to use the platforms you're on to not just get your music out there, but to understand who your work connects with. Releasing into the limitless digital void is one thing, but to take advantage of it is much better. Spotify for Artists is one way to do it, along with any other music analytics tool that makes sense for your career.