How Streaming Platforms Are Changing Music Promotion and Discovery

[Editors Note: This article was written by Patrick McGuire.]

As music streaming giants like Spotify and Apple Music continue to transform and revitalize the music industry, artists are just beginning to fully comprehend the seemingly limitless potential of new music discovery and promotion technology in 2018’s musical landscape. Songwriters and musicians continue to struggle to financially cope in a world with that’s almost completely shifted to streaming music over owning it seemingly overnight, but a slew of new analytic and discovery features delivered by streaming platforms could be the silver lining artists have been waiting for.

Spotify, who has yet to make a profit as a company, isn’t able to pay compensate an artist much money when one of their songs gets streamed through their platform, but they are able to help in other ways. Through tools like their Discover Weekly playlist, Spotify has made significant investments in helping new music find an audience. A thoughtful mixture of human curation and algorithm genius is helping new and unknown artists connect and resonate with fans in ways that were unimaginable just a few years ago. Will 100,000 plays on a big streaming platform earn a band enough money to pay all of their bills? No, but that sort of exposure might give a new artist enough attention to find opportunities that can.

The music industry’s newfound collective acceptance of music streaming is one of the driving factors behind what many are calling music’s big comeback, but new opportunities for exposure and promotion ushered in by streaming platforms and playlist culture deserves a good amount of the credit.

Last summer, an article published by The Guardian profiled a Venezuelan singer named Danny Ocean, an artist whose career was launched by Spotify. In a matter of months, the Latin star went from being completely unknown to having a smash hit with over 261 million plays through Spotify alone. Spotify’s technology was able to detect interest in Ocean’s single after its release, so it added the song to a few of its popular playlists and the rest is history. 

Songwriter Ron Pope has a similar rags to riches story. The Georgia native apparently earned over $250k from streaming alone in 2014 without significant radioplay and help from a label. The incredible breakout success stories of these artists is one that would be simply unthinkable just a decade ago.

With big music streaming players increasingly lending a hand to small artists, the music promotion sector the music industry may need to rethink their strategy.

In addition to helping to launch undiscovered new musical talent in a perpetual quest to satiate the music-addicted masses, streaming platforms are now able to give artists analytic insights and helpful information about their listeners that they used to have to pay good money for. For example, a college or alternative radio campaign usually runs bands anywhere from $1,500 to $10,000. The main purpose of these campaigns is to physically submit an artist’s music for possible airplay, but a huge benefit they deliver are detailed insights into which stations have started playing the music, where they’re located and how often they’re playing it. Streaming platforms are now offering up this and other helpful information to artists for absolutely free.

Radio continues to be a major source for music discovery, but with the trend of many influential stations curating playlists replicating the material they play over the air, the free analytic information artists can get from major streaming platforms can help them gain powerful insights about their unique audiences. With these free resources, artists can track the success of their individual songs, book tours based around countries and cities their music is being played in the most and can even see information as detailed as what gender their listeners are.

Shortly after the birth of social media, platforms like Myspace and then later Facebook were the ones mostly responsible for hosting the party as far as where audiences went to listen to an artist’s music, learn about them from their bio and find out about their shows. But in 2018, the party is swiftly moving over to streaming platforms.

In addition to helping artists connect with and learn about listeners, major streaming platforms now provide customizable profile features like pictures, concert listings and even merchandise store options. Essentially, big streaming companies are now helping artists condense and leverage their virtual presences in ways that non-musical social media platforms have never been able to do. Just a couple of years ago, most people used Facebook pages to learn about and keep up with bands, but now fans can do all that directly from the sources they discover and consume music.  

But while some musicians and writers are rejoicing over the new features and benefits streaming platforms are offering artists, others continue to feel the strain of diminishing record sales and fear the possibility that the artform of the album will be replaced by playlists. While no one can predict the future, the music industry’s sweeping irreversible transformation is a certainty, and those who learn to adapt will fare better than those who dig their heels in and wish for a pre-streaming era to return.

Patrick McGuire is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.

INTERVIEW: Fanburst Seeks To Offer Independent Artists More Streaming Options

While it’s known among our artist community that getting your music in stores and streaming platforms like Spotify, iTunes, Amazon and Google Play has never been easier. But of course there are other platforms that don’t require typical digital distribution, such as Soundcloud and Bandcamp, allowing artists to host and share their music either for free for a named-price.

Beyond making their music available to the bases of dedicated fans using these platforms, another benefit has traditionally been space for those artists who are putting music out weekly or even daily. But as some of these platforms are gearing towards a paid or subscription model, the amount of space per account an artist has becomes limited, which either requires them to remove content to make room or simply not put new content out there.

Enter Fanburst – a new streaming service offered free to musicians and fans of all genres. Similar to other streaming platforms, Fanburst allows artists to set up their profiles with information about themselves, links and photos.

Founded and developed by Jeremy Yudkin and Chris Miller, Fanburst offers artists the opportunity to upload and host an unlimited amount of releases, from albums to singles – all the special price of 100% free. Since launching in beta last year, the two founders have been working with artists to garner feedback and figure out how they can better serve creators and fans alike.

As with services like Soundcloud, we’ve never been shy about encouraging artists to take advantage of ALL their options when it comes to getting their music into the world. Discovery is a challenge, so why not cast a wide net? If you’re covering fans who love to use Soundcloud, it’s equally important to cover fans who prefer Apple Music or Spotify – and vice versa. Fanburst is another platform to reach fans, and that should please any independent artist

We had the chance to chat with them in a quick interview below about launching Fanburst and what they hope to achieve with this exciting new platform.

Tell us a little bit about your backgrounds and how you got together to start building Fanburst.

Jeremy: Chris [Miller, co-founder] was one of my customers in a previous venture, and we were spending a lot of time talking about music and the future for artists. At some point, we decided we should build something together. We wanted to take both of our skill sets, as well as our shared passion for music, to start solving problems that we saw for emerging and established artists.

What kind of input were you getting from indie artists during the development of Fanburst?

Artists just want to be heard. Really, it’s so hard to get discovered, but it’s not impossible. Indie artists have to just get their music out into every marketplace, streaming service, and digital platform there is. If an indie artist writes an amazing tune and it takes off on Fanburst, it will still have carry over onto other platforms.

Also, artists are creating a lot of music and they need a way to share and publish it. The finished ones, the drafts, and just ideas – we didn’t want any artist not to share something. We built Fanburst so every artists at any point could upload their music.

Similarly, what kind of feedback have you received since launching? How have you been engaging with artists to improve and adjust?

The feedback has been awesome – especially from new and developing artists. We’re helping artists get their first few fans, and it snowballs from there. More fans here helps to drive word of mouth, and then artists have the opportunity to grow.

What advice do you have for young up-and-coming artists when it comes to delivering their content online?

Get your music everywhere – get on TuneCore, they make it easy. But also get your music anywhere TuneCore doesn’t distribute. Also: be early adopters on platforms – you can get lucky and become the big fish in a small pond and dominate.

Also, keep writing and working on your art. It compounds and improves, just like any other skill, so just get better every day, bit by bit.

How do you envision Fanburst living aside big name players like Apple Music, Spotify and Deezer?

Hopefully we develop a unique, independent community where artists can catch some new fans. We think music is going to be a lot bigger than it currently is, and it likely will play out with a lot of platforms and lots of different fan experiences where artists can take advantage of.

We hope the artists using Fanburst are also using the other services, because we think its a net win when artists are growing everywhere.

What can you leave us with in terms of the exciting future ahead of Fanburst?

We think we’re planning on rolling out a bunch of interesting features that will help artists grow their fans, grow across other platforms, and drive revenue. For now, making sure the platform is simple and easy – that’s our focus.

Why Playlists Are More Important Than Ever

[Author: Patrick McGuire *
In 2017, the playlist has become an integral part of not just music but our culture at large. While radioplay and the blogosphere still have the power to bring attention to an artist, playlists are becoming a steadfast way for more and more listeners to discover and consume music. This isn’t exactly breaking news for those readers who’ve been making serious music over the past decade, but the fact is that playlists are shaping the musical landscape more than ever before, and if you don’t release your music with that in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll risk missing out on some potentially huge opportunities.

The New Listening Landscape

Remember that snobby record store clerk you used to get your music recommendations from? Or maybe it was your cool older sister. Well, either way, playlists featuring every genre of music you can conceive of are introducing listeners to new artists in way measured by literally billions of songs, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But probably more important than the way listeners are discovering music is the way they’re now listening to it. Listeners are now relying on playlists big and small to guide their unique listening experiences. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of a non-musician for a second. Unless you’re particularly interested in discovering and listening to new and interesting music, you most likely won’t have the time or patience to wade through hours of music to find songs that actually resonate with you. Enter an army of new expertly curated playlists, specifically designed to convey an array of nuanced moods that cater to a wide variety of different music fans.

Like indie rap? There’s tens of thousands of playlists out there for you. Looking for electronic jazz/rock fusion for stepdads? Actually, I have no idea if that playlist exists or not, but you get what I mean.

Engaging new and old listeners on this relatively new playing field is becoming more and more important for career musicians, but don’t take my word for it.

Let’s look at the data.

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The Data Behind Playlists

On average, Spotify’s 4,500 curated playlists generate over a billion streams per week. Their Discover Weekly feature has connected well over 40 million music listeners to about 5 billion new songs. Love it or loathe it, Spotify is doing something massively important for new artists, and figuring out how to get your music featured on Spotify is worth looking into, even if the chances of your music being selected by one of Spotify’s notoriously picky playlist curators is slim.

But while Spotify is a major resource for listeners when it comes to finding and consuming music, YouTube is an even bigger player. Though the stats are controversial, complicated and difficult to understand, some music industry analysts believe YouTube accounts for 40% of all music listening.

I released a single recently and was surprised to learn that a dude with a playlist I’d never heard of had shared my new song on a YouTube playlist with over 188,000 subscribers. My release performed pretty well on Spotify, but the numbers were nothing compared to the exposure I got from being featured on that one Youtube playlist.

Make music regularly enough and you’ll sometimes get lucky and have your songs featured on decent-sized playlists, but reaching out to playlist curators and asking for your songs to be considered is vital if you’re just starting out and new to the playlist game.

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Pitching Your Music to Playlist Curators and Digital Music Stores

Taking the time to submit your music through TuneCore’s feature submission form is an easy way to pitch your music to digital music retailers like iTunes, but if you’re interested in getting playlist curators to consider your songs, you’ll have to do some research.

Take some time to find out what playlists are out there that feature music that’s similar to yours. Rather than gunning for the big, heavily followed tastemakers, I recommend starting small and pitching your music to playlists with smaller followings.

Similar to how you’d pitch your music to blogs, take some time following different playlists and getting a feel for the kind of music their curators like to feature.

Craft a short email explaining who you are, what your music sounds like and why you think it fits on the playlist you’re inquiring about. Yes, you’ll most likely get your fair share of no’s and unanswered emails, but with how much potential there is out there for finding new fans through playlists, getting serious about playlists is becoming a mandatory task if you’re intent on being a successful musician.

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[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]

November Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds More Artist Friendly Features

As “Spotify For Artists” evolves and continues to set the tone for streaming platforms and how they allow artists to control their profiles, this month marked another update that most who distribute their music there should be happy about. Spotify introduced “Artist’s Pick”, a new feature aimed at allowing artists to control the music that sits on top of their profile – they can pick any album, track, or playlist they prefer to highlight, and even include a message about why they dig it so much.

In addition to “Artist’s Pick”, artists who distribute their music to Spotify can now add custom images and share geotargeted tour dates. Previously, artists were limited to their profile image when it came to these sort of uploads/customizations – now they can add photos from on the road, album art, or hey, even a fun selfie for the heck of it. As far as tour dates are concerned, this new feature actually coincides with the “Artist’s Pick” feature, as they can choose to make their geotargeted tour date the main focus of a user’s attention up top! Both of these go a long way in offering free tools that allow indie artists to engage and connect with their fans via an increasingly popular streaming platform. We’ll be sure to keep you updated month to month as all the stores/services we help you distribute to make announcements like this!

YouTube Announces Partnership with TicketMaster

Remember last year when Spotify partnered with Ticketmaster to integrate local tour dates into artists’ profiles? Well, YouTube is getting in on the fun! The video streaming giant owned by Google announced in November that they’d begin featuring “hundreds of artist’s upcoming US tour dates on their YouTube videos.

When it comes to music – love it or hate it – a LOT of music fans rely on YouTube to stream their favorite music these days. It remains to be seen what differences lie among those who use YouTube to stream versus those who prefer services like Deezer, Spotify or Apple – specifically in how these users engage with their favorite artists or how often they’d pay to go see them live in concert. But this certainly signals a shift in YouTube’s strategy for additional revenue streams, or at least an attempt to diversify from their main source of dough: advertising.

If you’re an independent artist and you distribute your music to all platforms available, this only increases the access your fans – whether they’ve been with you from the beginning or are just discovering your tunes – have to your upcoming live dates.

Google Assistant Adds Song Recognition Feature

It’s unlikely at this point that you haven’t been hearing a lot more about Google Assistant. The tech behemoth has been making cool updates to their voice-controlled feature available on Google and Android driven devices, and it’s latest involves music.

Eerily similar to the process that helped put Shazam (which TuneCore distributes to) on the map, users with Google Assistant can now instantly get more information about the music being played in their surroundings.

By holding down a home button (to trigger Google Assistant) and asking your device what song is playing, you’ll immediately be served with a song title, the artist and a sample of the song’s lyrics (where applicable). But of course, that’s not all you’ll get: in typical Google fashion, links to Google Play, YouTube and search (for more information) are also offered up with each response.

While it’s not an incredibly revolutionary addition, it’s important to remember that this action no longer requires a music fan to have additional apps they may not have previously considered downloading to get instant access to the new music they’re hearing. That stands to impact artists of all career levels when it comes to how quickly discovery can lead to fandom.

Deezer Announces New “Community” Feature

While the messaging/sharing and social networking elements of streaming services have been explored, blown up, and in some cases completely dialed back, Deezer has decided to open up the conversation…among its users, of course. In November the streaming platform announced that its subscribers can access the Deezer Community feature in order to share new tunes with their friends on the platform, receive Deezer news and updates, and join fellow music lovers on their message board-like system in order to find support, share tips, or act as a leader in conversations about artists and genres.

While it may seem less relevant in 2017, one must not forget about the power of message boards and forums among diehard music fans. They’ve long been a refuge for those active listeners looking to share new deep cuts, discover underground singles, and participate in deep topic conversations with like-minded folks. In the same way that vinyl and cassettes are still being purchased by some, these forums and communities too are populated with vocal and fervent music fans, (don’t believe us? Just check out indie hip hop label Stones Throw’s boards for yourself!)

We’re psyched to see the European streamer get its toes wet in the social game, because after all, when it comes to independent music, word of mouth can be everything.

October Industry Wrap-Up

Spotify Adds Playlist Pitching Options, Partners With Google & Launches New App

October was a busy month for Spotify! They’ve announced some recent updates that impact fans, labels and artists. For music fans who use Google and Android smart devices, an advanced partnership now allows Spotify subscribers to use voice command control of the app using  Google Assistant. Formerly relegated to Google Home smart-speakers, this marks a move towards Google’s acceptance of Spotify’s high subscription rate and putting it front-of-mind when updating its mobile offerings. While Andorid users can rejoice in their ability to say “OK Google, Play Spotify”, Music Ally points out that the tech giant may still be leaning toward YouTube being the lead music brand for Google going forward, as it merges with Google Play.”

For independent labels, pitching for slots on playlists and Spotify’s ‘Browse’ section can be as difficult for those without representation. There also remains an internal struggle between the promotion of label playlists and Spotify’s own in-house playlists. As such, Spotify has moved to offer a new system for indie labels aimed at giving their artists a better shot at making it onto playlists while also (ideally) giving labels’ playlists “a better chance of building an audience on Spotify.” Read more about the pitching system here, and as indie artists, keep your eyes out for more transparent pitching opportunities in the future!

Finally, as creators are concerned, Spotify launched it’s “Spotify For Artists” app on iOS. We’ve talked about the “Spotify For Artists” app on the Blog before, so it’s exciting to see such a helpful tool being offered to artists right in their pocket. An Android version is soon to follow, but for now, indie artists with iOS devices can edit their bios and their ‘artist’s pick’, as well as update their playlists and keep an eye on their listener analytics.

2017 On-Demand Streams Soar in the U.S.

We know, even though it feels like time is flying, the year isn’t over yet. But as a digital music distributor serving independent artists with the opportunity to make their music available on dozens and dozens of digital streaming platforms, we can’t help but get excited about figures like this: on-demand audio and video streams are up 40.5% in the U.S. so far in 2017

At 442.44 billion streams so far, MusicAlly once again provides a helpful comparison that shows that this year, eight tracks have already toppled last year’s most-streamed track, “Panda” by Desiigner, in the comparative window of time.

While the top artists being streamed are no doubt most of the big-timers you’d expect to see leading the way, it’s important as ever to look at these types of figures as an overall shift toward the trend of streaming. Once a consumption method for the ‘active’ music listener, more and more subscribers means more and more music discovery. With direct access to these platforms, it puts independent artists in a good position to be marketing their releases across fans’ preferred channels for streaming.

BandsInTown Announces “Big Break” Platform For Emerging Artists

BandsInTown – if you don’t already know (and you should) – is a popular app aimed at helping artists promote their concerts/tour dates and helping fans keep track of when all their favorite performers will be playing locally. In addition to helping fans discover new artists by offering concert dates for bands they don’t already follow on Facebook via a “listen-if-you-like” style algorithm, BandsInTown is launching their “Big Break” platform in an effort to promote new independent artists.

The new feature “highlights everything you need to know about the fresh faces turning the industry upside down. From the secrets behind their viral tracks to their big plans for the future…”, supported by a series on their blog. BandsInTown will select 50 artists in order to grow their ‘trackers’ following from 500 to 5,000.
This is a very cool step towards further connecting indie artists with new and potential fans. The app is already right up any diehard music fan’s alley in terms of keeping up with their favorite acts’ performing schedules – even for local artists. Head on over to their blog to learn more about the platform and how to keep up with the opportunities coming from the app down the road.

How I Grew My YouTube Channel’s Subscribers From Zero to 5,000

[Editors Note: This article is written by Nate Maingard. Nate is a modern troubadour and live-streamer. He’s been on the music scene since 1998 and right now he is in the top 50 musicians on Patreon. He is a guest lecturer at SAE, Ovation Award Winner and Gold VIP live-streamer on Periscope. This article is part of our collaboration with – a platform providing answers to questions from music industry professionals.]


This may not be what you expect. I’m no YouTube superstar, with millions of views and professionally produced content. I’m just a simple human sharing the things I love…and I’ve been blessed to come to know a wonderful online community of people who enjoy what I share. And so, here’s how I grew my YouTube subscribers from 0 to 5,000!

Be Consistent

It took me a long time to learn this simple lesson, but the truth is that every single successful person I’ve heard talk about success says the same thing: BE CONSISTENT!

Just. Keep. Creating.

One of the ways I do this is to release a new video on the same day every week. I’ll be the first to admit I still don’t get this right a lot of the time, but when I get in the flow of it, this brings me so much stability, and is great for my subscribers too!

Consistency also helps me with ‘imposter syndrome,’ or, the feeling that I’m a fake and should just give up because I don’t really matter and my art sucks anyway, (not sure if you ever feel that, many artists do).

Anyway, creating on a regular timeline means I’m generally too focused on what I’m doing next to worry about whether or not people are going to love what I’ve already done! It keeps me passionate, forward-looking and motivated – which are great alternatives to ‘depressed in bed binge watching Netflix while I think about how much more I should be doing with my life’.

Every Person Matters

Social media has a tendency to get us so focused on the big numbers: how many million subs, watches, likes, comments, etc. – but you’ve got to remember that each interaction is coming from a real, unique, beautiful human being! Someone has taken time out of their own busy, complex existence to connect with your creations. This is HUGE!

I do my best to respond to every single comment with thoughtfulness and gratitude. I thank people for sharing my creations on Twitter when they tag me. I respond to emails from people who have been positively impacted by my art. I message every new patron to give a personal ‘Welcome’. Yes, these things take a lot of time and YES IT IS WORTH IT!

We are all individuals, we all want to be seen and heard. Be grateful to those who take the time to connect with your work, and they will reward you by sharing more of their precious presence with you.

Make Beautiful Things

I don’t know what beauty is to you, and I’m not here to tell you what it should be.

All I know is that the world needs more people sharing their perceptions of beauty with the world. The most important thing is that you create what you believe in, what you are passionate about, what makes your heart race and your eyes light up. THAT is what I want to know about from you!

If you are authentic about what you share, that will resonate with other people like you out there in the world. These are the people who will become your tribe, your foundation, your support.

Be prepared to suck when you begin, everyone does. There’s an amazing talk by Ira Glass about this, I highly recommend you watch it.

Ask For Support

How do people know how to help you if you don’t tell them?

Be sure to ask your audience to subscribe, to comment, to share!

Ask for their opinions, and listen to their responses. Make them a part of your journey from the beginning and you won’t have to do it alone, you’ll have a whole community of collaborators excited to be a part of your journey!

These are the people who will celebrate your successes, and support you in your failures. All it requires is for you to be open, honest and authentic with them.

In Closing

Be consistent, treat people with care, make beautiful things and ask for support!

These are the approaches and attitudes I have found to serve me in my own journey, and I’d love to hear if they help you on yours in the comment section.

Wishing you well on the road, and I look forward to seeing what your heart brings into this world.