Discovery mode is probably the most notable feature for most artists out there. The reason is, it can boost your streams.
What Does it Do?
Allows you to Prioritize a track for Discovery on Artist Radio Stations and autoplay.
Artist radio stations are stations dedicated to the music of individual artists and artists Spotify identifies as similar to them. autoplay is a feature that automatically plays songs when an album or playlist finishes, keeping the user listening.
How Does it Work?
In the Campaign area of your Spotify account, you’ll find the feature. Once there, you simply activate it for a chosen track. Once Spotify understands your music and which artists’ fans would enjoy listening to it, they’ll begin plugging your songs into their stations. This is something that happens naturally without Discovery Mode, but the activity is scattered across multiple songs.
What Discovery Mode appears to do is consolidate the streams and dedicate them to one song. Instead of having 10 different songs pop up on different stations, it would be the same song. In the above image, 10 songs split 1,042 streams. If one track were to be prioritized with Discovery Mode, all 1,042 streams would go to that one track. If you have an album dropping and you’ve released a single to generate buzz for it, prioritizing the single with Discovery Mode could go a long way in building interest in the new album. Without prioritizing the single, your older songs with deeper listening history are likely to receive the most activity through Artist radio and auto play which isn’t likely to bring attention to any new releases.
Spotify highlights the fact that their statistical modeling has artists generating over a 50% increase in saves, over a 44% increase in playlist additions, and over a 37% increase in follows on average. The thing that sticks out to me is what’s left out. Spotify doesn’t highlight an increase in streams, instead, they focus on converting passive listeners to active listeners. Why would Discovery Mode increase action? It depends because it’s not a given that it will. A new song prioritized with Discovery Mode is likely to drive more conversions than songs that were already in rotation. Pre-existing users may have already saved and if not, don’t care to save.
Repetition is another aspect of the feature. A song in rotation on the radio reaches listeners at multiple points in the day. If someone wasn’t in the mood for it in the morning, maybe they’ll like it more if they hear it in the afternoon. The focus on one song gives that song multiple opportunities to connect, rather than a user being served different songs at different times where it could be a constant cycle of a good song, at a bad time.
Will this feature increase your number of streams? That depends on a few things, which is why I think Spotify steered clear of highlighting it. The tool builds on what’s already there so you likely need to already be generating streams from Artist radio to prioritize a track for Artist radio. If you don’t get heavy rotation from Artist radio, that trend is likely to continue with Discovery Mode as it’s not promising an increase in streams. There’s also the matter of the artists you rank as similar to, if a lot of their fans don’t stream their stations there won’t be a lot of activity there either. You can see how much you get out of Radio and autoplay by checking the metric in your Spotify for Artists dashboard under “Audience Engagement” in the dropdown for Source of streams.
Your streams can get a boost from Discovery Mode if the song hits. Spotify’s algorithm is set to promote tracks based on user response where the more saves and playlist additions a track receives in relation to the number of streams, the more love it gets through recommendations. A new track few fans have heard could drive more conversions leading to more recommendations.
What are the requirements?
You must have a minimum of 5,000 Monthly listeners within the past 28 days or 1,000 Followers in a country that can be targeted with Ads in Spotify’s Ad Studio platform to qualify. There also needs to be enough activity on a song for Spotify to understand where it should be placed. Additionally, you agree to forfeit 30% of the revenue generated by streams that come from Discovery Mode. It’s easy to stomach the loss of 30% if your track hits and the algorithm picks it up and spikes the recommendations. The thing is, that’s far from a given. It’s likely most artists will end up sacrificing 30% of revenue from streams they already get. Say you receive 100 streams from Artist radio across 10 songs. You use Discovery Mode to focus those streams on one song, and that one song gets 100 streams. You get to keep 70% of the revenue generated by those 100 streams rather than the 100% you’d normally get.
I feel like a can of worms is being opened with this feature. Artists sacrificing royalties in exchange for promotion on the music platform that’s supposed to pay them royalties is a slippery slope. First, for a lot of artists, they could end up not being promoted at all and just end up sacrificing royalties. On top of that, if works out and the song receives more activity, there’s no way for artists to differentiate between activity driven by Discovery mode and organic activity. Spotify only takes 30% of streams driven by Discovery Mode but there’s no way to identify what it’s truly responsible for. Additionally, it opens the door for more exploitation and devaluing of music on the platform. Imagine they extend this to other areas like Discovery Weekly, Release Radar, Daily Mixes, etc. There could be a severe negative impact on the revenue of artists on Spotify.
Pre-saves have become a big part of rollouts for new releases and Spotify has taken notice. Countdown pages are pretty much pages dedicated to Pre-saves. An artists get a countdown timer that counts down to the day of the release, videos can be uploaded to add to the story of a track or album, and a preview of the track list is shown where fans can stream any songs that have already been released. Again, the key question is, “how do fans get here?”
Countdown pages are listed in the “Upcoming Releases” section of your profile page which is the least likely destination for a fan. Spotify also plans to send Push notifications to fans when an artist pushes the Publish button on a Countdown page. The thing with Push notifications is that users have to have them turned on and I don’t know if a large enough percentage of Spotify users do. Also key is that Spotify will notify who it believes to be a fan based on listener activity that only the platform is privy to, so it’s not based on the number of monthly listeners you have. The number of people notified of a Countdown could be significantly lower than your monthly listener count.
One other major thing to address is the true point of Pre-saves. Pre-Orders allow consumers to buy a release over a span of time and have the sales counted as if they purchased during the week of the release. An artist can have months of sales activity compressed into their first-week sales figures, hopefully allowing them to chart or trigger placement in the areas for notable releases that most music stores have. Pre-saves do not work like that. Fans aren’t allowed to stream your music prior to its release day and have those streams count toward the first week. Instead, the release is merely added to their library on the day of its release. Fans don’t see it or even know it’s there unless they go riffling through their library of tracks for one song or another and stumble across it. The playlist that’s created for songs users have “Hearted” on Spotify is a feedback loop of tracks they’ve streamed heavily. A new song without streaming history is unlikely to crack the rotation. This explains why many artists, despite having large numbers of people Pre-save their releases, end up with underwhelming streaming activity on their release day.
The lack of streaming activity wasn’t always harmful because if you had 1,000 Pre-saves and 200 Listeners, that gave you a save rate of 500%. This looks great to the algorithm and possibly could result in more impactful activity on Release Radar and Discover Weekly. As users have become less engaged with those playlists and competition for placements has increased dramatically, there’s less of a benefit. Currently, the main reason for a Pre-save campaign is to collect emails. When a user clicks to save your music on Spotify, using a Pre-save button from providers like Feature.fm and Linkfire, you get their email address. Spotify doesn’t appear to be passing along the email addresses of those that Pre-save from Countdown pages. This feature is great but also works to create further dependency on Spotify for communication with your audience.
- Users informed through Push notifications
- Tracklist preview provided on the page
- Exclusive video content is provided on the page
- Located in “Upcoming releases” of your profile page
This is probably the biggest and best feature announcement for me and that’s Spotify allowing merchandise to be seen in the audio player. Previously, artists could add Merch to their Spotify account but it only appeared on their profile. Again, fans don’t really go there, only new listeners who are unlikely to purchase Merch which is a fan product. This new feature allows artists to Tag a product and connect it to a song where when users stream that song they’ll be shown that connected product in the audio player. This turns Spotify into somewhat of a lead nurturing funnel where artists can build awareness, engage, convert, and retain consumers. It’s a very powerful tool I feel most artists will overlook and I highlight why in the audio notes for this feature.
- Must be Shopify user: Good thing is they have plans starting at $5 Monthly here
- Shopify account must be connected in your Spotify for Artist Dashboard
- Merchandise can be Tagged to be connected to tracks to appear in the audio player
This is a feature that allows artists to upload short video clips to Spotify. It can be used to make announcements, add more to the story of a song, promote new Merch, etc. These video clips are placed on your artist profile page, album, and track pages. Note, these are not places fans are likely to go because of the passive listening nature of Spotify. People tend to only end up on these pages during the discovery phase where they first find out about an artist. For fans that are already aware of an artist’s music, it’s likely in their library where they have no reason to navigate to your profile, album, or track page. Users likely only end up on these pages if sent there by the artist through social media promotion which doesn’t bring an artist anything more than they already have. At the same time, it increases the reasons for listeners to stay on Spotify which isn’t necessarily a bad thing with the moves they’re making. The big thing is that artists can have the people that consume their music, consume the content they make to support and build the story of their music. That’s not always the case with Social media where an artist can have fans of their content that aren’t fans of their music and struggle to convert their social media following to streams and engagement on platforms like Spotify.
Things get interesting when you combine the announcement of this feature with previous news of Spotify launching a TikTok-style feed in the dashboard where users can scroll through content.
The advantage Social media has is, User-Generated-Content. Everyone can post content to social media, you, your friends, your parents, your grandparents, etc. There’s comedy there, news there, and it’s a way to keep up with family and friends. People spend hours on social media every day which provides an opportunity for the content of artists to be seen. Music listeners use Spotify to listen to music, I’m not sure they’ll care to use it like they use social media. It’s not really new territory Spotify is drifting into. Apple has tried and failed at a social component to music consumption with Ping and Apple Music Connect. The aspect of it being exclusive to artists is very harmful to its growth. Even if fans are given a voice, they’re also given a choice between TikTok, Instagram Reels, and Youtube Shorts for where to express themselves and will choose to go where their friends are over where artists might want them to go.
- Less than 30 seconds
- Vertical videos
- Tag albums and tracks for it to be featured on the page dedicated to that album or track
- No branded watermarks
- No infringement – Can’t upload a Clip containing music you don’t own without permission
This feature is not yet available but you can request access at: https://spotifyforartists.typeform.com/clips-waitlist?utm_campaign=owned_s4a_adp_all_clips_crossdevice__clips_beta_typeform_waitlist_form_clipslp&utm_medium=owned&utm_source=s4a&utm_content=clipslp&typeform-source=clips.byspotify.com