If you have a Spotify account (or an account with any other streamer, really), you have immediate access to more than 35 million songs and more are being added every day. There’s so much music online that something like 20% of the songs on Spotify haven’t been streamed by anyone. Not once. (Check out a site called Forgotify to access some of these lost tracks.)
Even as we have a hard time drinking from this firehouse, imagine what it’s like to be Spotify. Thousands of new tracks must come at them every week. And with that comes all kinds of pressure from labels to give their releases prominent exposure. Billboard takes a look at the issue.
It wasn’t easy working Post Malone’s 2016 single, “Congratulations,” up Spotify’s charts.
Despite its placement on playlists including Universal Music Group’s Hip Hop Hits, Spotify’s Fresh & Chill and user-generated NEW SH*T, the song “wasn’t performing in a traditional sense,” says UMG’s senior vp global streaming marketing Jay Frank, even though data noticed by Republic Records president Avery Lipman showed it was “hitting home with a core audience.” Only after weeks of bringing the data to the attention of an array of Spotify staffers did the UMG team convince the streaming service to help push “Congratulations” into its top 10. “We worked together to have a plan,” says Frank.
While Republic pulled out all the stops to get the song streamed 532 million times to date, according to Nielsen Music, Spotify has been scrambling to launch an official channel for labels and artists to submit music for playlist consideration, with the goal of ”supporting every release that comes out,” says Nick Holmstén, Spotify’s global head of shows & editorial. Though he says there’s no perfect way to make that happen, Spotify wants to improve its ability to surface potential hits much earlier, to help crack what its executives call “the bandwidth problem.”
“It’s maybe the most important thing for us to solve right now,” says Holmstén.
As Spotify amasses subscribers and drives revenue, it is facing an awkward problem for an orderly, data-driven tech company: how to cope with the onslaught of label reps, managers and promoters trying to work their songs up Spotify’s charts by any means necessary.