Anatomy of a Developing Artist: How COIN’s “Talk Too Much” Found Its Audience

Writing and performing a catchy song helped. So did Pandora’s genome.

By Glenn Peoples, Music Insights and Analytics at Pandora

Main takeaways:

· Pandora’s genome rewarded COIN fans’ enthusiasm by finding an audience for its new single and helping its back catalog.

· Popularity is ultimately result of listeners’ reactions and the thumbs they give a song.

Songs can take any number of meandering paths on Pandora. “Talk Too Much” by COIN is becoming an alternative rock favorite because of listener reaction and some factors under Pandora’s hood: its music genome and an in-house marketing tool.

COIN is a four-piece band from Nashville, TN signed to Columbia Records. Its self-titled debut album was self-released last year and later picked up by Columbia. The new track “Talk Too Much” was released in May. Listeners of Two Door Cinema Club, the Wombats or The 1975 would probably like it.

COIN

A little background. The song was helped early on when the band took advantage of the “featured track” tool in Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform (AMP). Then humans got involved. “Talk Too Much” was analyzed by a musicologist and added to the genome. Then it landed on Pandora’s New Alternative station.

Here are 8phases in the rise of COIN’s “Talk Too Much” on Pandora. (There is no 8-step program. I’ve just broken this down by phases to give an example.)

1 COIN released a catchy song. Listen for yourself.

2 In May, COIN used the “Feature Track” tool in AMP to give “Talk Too Much” a boost. (An artist can select a featured track, such as a new single, to lift a song above its organically derived spins.) Spins during this two-week run were 273 percent greater than the previous two weeks. In another sign the campaign worked, daily artist station adds (this means listeners created COIN stations) increased to the levels not seen until August when “Talk Too Much” was getting 10x as many spins.

3 There was a flurry of activity in mid-June. Pandora spins jumped 228 percent and thumbs spiked 485 percent. Radio briefly got on board at the same time. Lightning 100 in Nashville added “Talk Too Much” in mid-June. Q101 in Chicago became the biggest station to date to play it. Spins and thumbs subsided to a higher plateau.

4 Pandora’s alternative rock audience had given “Talk Too Much” more attention and positive feedback — people were thumbing the song — gave the song increased momentum. Later in June, “Talk Too Much” landed on New Alternative, one of Pandora’s most popular rock stations. As a result, “Talk Too Much” was elevated beyond its normal exposure and trajectory. A 206-percent gain in daily streams and a 297-percent gain in daily thumbs occurred over a 2-day period.

5 By late August “Talk Too Much” had landed on the Billboard “Alternative National Airplay” chart. Daily spins were up 302 percent over the previous 30 days. Here we can see the results of the genome working.

6 Also in August, listener response pushed “Talk Too Much” onto Today’s Alternative, a major player in Pandora’s roster of rock stations. If New Alternative is Class AAA baseball (not the AAA radio format), Today’s Alternative is major league baseball. Spins jumped 610 percent over two days and maintained about a 10x increase in spins and thumbs.

7 Later in August, listeners’ thumbs had pushed “Talk Too Much” to the #2 song on New Alternative station. During the Monday-to-Friday week starting August 22nd, the song’s spins were 491 percent higher than a five-day work week a month earlier. The song had found its fans back in July. Listener reaction became increasingly positive. The genome had learned who liked the song and where to play it. Spins and positive feedback on New Alternative and Today’s Alternative helped the song branch out to other song, artist and genre stations.

8 Listener feedback on “Talk Too Much” spurred the genome to try other songs in the band’s catalog. “Run,” the band’s previous single on the band’s 2015 self-released album, saw triple-digital increases in weekly spins after “Talk Too Much” spiked in August.

There’s an old saying in the record business that good music will eventually find an audience. This case shows how a song can find listeners at Pandora. A new song is added to the genome, which then determines what listeners are likely to enjoy the song. The single biggest factor here is the listener feedback that drives a song forward and builds its spins. When people respond favorably to one song, Pandora’s genome will find listeners for other songs in the artist’s catalog. COIN is proof the process works.

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