A few years ago, around the year 2014, we started creating several playlists in our brand profile, completely focusing on music discovery. It wasn’t a long time ago, but during these last 5-6 years, music discovery has changed considerably. We could even affirm music discovery has found a new path due to streaming platforms. YouTube and Spotify are the most important ones leading new music into users’ radar during these last few years. Obviously, this new way to influence music discovery is way different from the traditional, but they share interesting similarities at the same time. Let’s talk about it.
If we think about how people usually discover new music, we’d clearly need to separate mainstream and niche audiences; for them, music discovery is absolutely different in many aspects. The different audiences to target with different music discovery sources (that we can simplify in two categories) are: passive or active ones. And we don’t feel this main difference has changed at all, but right now you can find both sources in the same place. Guess where?
Yes, on streaming platforms. On Spotify you can passively discover new hits and trending artists while listening to their charts or main playlists. At the same time, you can also find new great stuff that appeals to your music taste. How? By following niche playlists or by checking your algorithmic playlists. Discovery Weekly or Release Radar, for example, would suggest new tracks based on your listening behavior on the platform.
The music discovery journey rarely converged for these two types of audiences in the past. It’s hard to think about an indie rock and a hip hop fan listening to the same radio station. Or looking for music news information about their favorite artists and bands on the same website or magazine. It’s even harder to picture them attending the same music festival or buying a CD in the same music store section. Nowadays, they’re all listening to music in the same place. Sometimes, they are even finding their new music crushes in that same place too. So, streaming platforms have reunited a great part of the music lovers spectrum for the first time. And by having them all there, they’re learning how they behave and what they like or dislike from a user, listener or discovery perspective.
THE BROKEN COMPASS OF ‘SUCCESS FACTOR’
Mainstream audiences rule the music business; that’s a terrible fact we need to eventually admit. However, it doesn’t mean that these people rule the music destiny. They, as individuals, don’t own the power to influence music trends or art evolution. They are just an incredibly huge amount of people with the ability to answer one question : ‘Do they like my music?’. Nowadays, we are able to answer this with a high level of accuracy. Streaming platforms have turned mainstream audiences into an homogeneous mass that approves or denies what other smaller audiences are engaging to. Besides, these smaller audiences are a diverse group of music lovers discovering new music on their platform. Sometimes discovery happens through algorithms or niche playlists, but it can also occur thanks to external sources like social media or music blogs.
Active music seekers are the ones conducting music discovery for mainstream audiences (the lazy or passive ones). It has always been that way. But it seems we often forget about these music seekers, and that we are just looking for immediate success (a mainstream acceptance). Here comes one the most important problems; how are we measuring success? Maybe by focusing too much on metrics like ‘monthly listeners’, ‘views’ or ‘streams’. However, what really matters is engagement and it should be considered as the one and only commandment in the digital world. You are having success as a musician when you’re able to build an engaged audience, not a passive one. Passive audiences are not the ones that will lead your music to be discovered by others. At some point, though, they may determine if your sound is mainstream enough to hit the charts. And again, that’s not a music success factor.
Think about this when you find someone who spends more time producing the exact same music you hear in the charts rather than finding their own sound. Do you wanna be the new Drake or Kygo? They have their own unique sound.
So, if you want to keep building an audience engaged with your project, you just need to focus on two important things: first, you need to create, keep your creative process active and feed your audience with proper content (your art, your own music – that’s what they like). Then, connect with the right people, introduce your music to new listeners that can potentially interact with your project. And this is the hard one: who are those people? Well, I can assure you that they are not listening to a 2M follower playlist in which you need to pay to be featured. And these people won’t appear on your social media after paying for a +5K followers package. They are the ones we were talking about before; the active music seekers who would find your music in algorithms or reliable playlists on the streaming platforms.
UNDISCOVERED PLAYLISTS SERIES, MUSIC DISCOVERY SELECTIONS
This is the reason why we started curating several playlists focused on music discovery a few years ago. Our main goal as playlist curators is being a reliable source for these active music seekers. We want to feed them with genuine content, unique artist recommendations that could really influence their music discovery journey. Indiemono is a place where you can find a diverse range of playlists, and almost all of them have music discovery as a key factor (even the mainstream ones). We know the audience we want, and we’re honored to be recognized as a trustful source for music discovery by some users. We feel our curation is useful for music seekers when we see artists growing after being featured on our playlists. This usually happens when artists get more algorithmic support or features on editorial playlists like Fresh Finds. That’s a real game changer, being able to access playlists that can connect you with potential fans – we’re a small but relevant part of this system.
Therefore, receiving hundreds of tracks through our free submission system means a great responsibility for us. Artists count on us to be discovered by people, and we want to be a helpful tool for them. We cannot of course guarantee any success. We’re not fortune tellers that can divine how many streams or playlists adds you’ll get after being featured on our own playlists. However, we can tell who these people listening are for real; music lovers looking for new exciting artists. So, here you have a comfortable place where you can connect with new fans, and this is what we aim for, for the artists, to make this place more comfortable for artists day by day.
One of our classic playlist series is called ‘Undiscovered’ – it is pretty clear what kind of content we feature on them. We’ve been reviewing lots of music received through our website during these last months, and we feel these Undiscovered playlists are a nice spot to feature the most unique tracks under our radar. We decided to look at them as a source of new artists and bands that could also fit on other kinds of playlists in our profile. We re-designed playlists visuals to make them more attractive and in sync with their content. You can find 8 different moods with a clear genre-influence, based on our main music preferences. Feel free to check them out and capture the essence of all of them!
Building great music discovery sources feels like our job, and it totally depends on your unlimited capacity to create new awesome music (and to share it with us). At the same time, we feel we’re not just assembling playlists for music seekers here, we’re mainly building a huge community of independent creators. Sharing and connecting audiences between the members of this community has a tremendous chance of promoting new music discovery. Your audience can potentially engage with some great stuff featured on our playlists, and this works both sides; you can also get discovered when others share the playlists as well. Loving music is all about sharing stuff you like with other people – so we really encourage you to share if you like ours. You’ll impact positively on your own community and you can let us know if we’re working in the right direction.
Finally, remember when we said we wanted to make things more comfortable? Soon you’ll have an easy way to share our Undiscovered playlists if you ever get featured on any of them or simply because you like them. We’re publishing filters for Instagram to spread the love and the presence of these playlists -only if you want to share or if you’re eventually included on them.
We won’t stop here, a lot more content is coming and we’ll keep publishing new projects to expand the spotlight for indies.