A business hidden behind Spotify playlists

It all began on the 23th of January 2014.

That day, I subscribed to Spotify and created a few playlists with my fav’ artists, nothing special about this, right ?

The thing a little bit special about one of these playlists was the name I gave it : Suicide Songs. (please don’t worry about me, I’m fine 😁, it’s just a quite sad & sweet songs playlist which is not recommanded for running a marathon but it obviously has another goal).

From the very first days that this playlist was created, I received a lot of spam from Spotify because I didn’t deactivate the email-notification each time a new follower “liked” my playlist. (I deactivated it when the 1 or 2 email per day became 5 or 6 and then 10 or 15). I was asking myself if it was “normal” to get that many followers for a playlist, as I was new to Spotify, I let it flow like this for a couple of months.

Then, 2 years later, when I had reached 5000 followers for my playlist (without making any advertising for it :) ), I received a message on Facebook I took as a spam :

Laura Sullivan contacted me in private on FB (and I didn’t knew her at all at that time — you probably don’t know her neither — ). But then I noticed something special :

Laura was a grammy-award-winning composer and recording artist from America who wanted to be present on my playlist ? WTF!? 😵

I Googlised her name and found her with this grammy-award in hand :

(Jan. 25, 2014 — Source: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images North America)

I chatted with her a lot on FB, listened to some of her songs and added some to my list as they “matched” with my tastes. I also asked her to dedicate me her last CD and to send it by the post. And that’s what she did :

I asked myself “why” artists like her were interested in being in my playlist and the answer was logical and clear : she just wanted to insert her songs in my list because I had reached the symbolic number of 5000 followers and it was a cheap way, for her, to be more “known”.

I thought it was a “one-shot” and that these kind of contacts wouldn’t happen again after that but in fact it was just the beginning and my followers never stopped growing. I’d say I was getting 100 followers / month at that time (that number has increased today — I’ll talk about it later — ).

After that, other artists from all-around-the-world came to me exactly as Laura did. Sometimes I accepted their songs, sometimes I didn’t because they weren’t matching my playlist theme. But I never asked for a “gift” as I did for Laura.

Here are some of their introduction message they’ve sent me at first :

They often offered advertising on their social medias channels (mostly instagram, twitter & facebook) for a song on my playlist. But I have to admit I wasn’t looking for popularity, I just wanted to go on adding good songs I like on my list.

That business was totally unknown for me, I’m just a music-consumer and things went further when I got that message :

So here we are ? My playlist (my followers) have a price right now ? Really ? :)

I haven’t answered this message yet because I don’t wanna sell it (and I don’t think it’s something that is possible on Spotify today). But it brought even more questions to me : was I missing sthg with this playlist ?

I asked for help from a friend who knew someone working for Warner Music Belgium in his friendlist and, after a great talk with that person, I can say something : playlists are a real business right now in the music industry.

Having followers on my playlist is good and having 7000 of them is quite good but what is really important today, in the industry, is how many “streams” my playlist generates (one stream is someone who listened to one song of your playlist for at least 20 seconds). That kind person from Warner Music gave me tips & tricks to improve my playlist and to gain some followers.

I tryied some of these tips and I have to confess something : it’s working.

I celebrated my 7000 suiciders-followers on the 15th of October and today (the 19th of October), I’m at 7200 followers. So I took 200 followers in 4 days. Which is far away from the 5–10 followers I was taking before in one day.

There’s something important in all this : I never ever created an ad or publish on my facebook page (or somewhere else) an Url to follow me there so the only way people could find me on Spotify is because they are feeling bad (ahah) and because today, when you search for “suicide songs” in Spotify, I guess my playlist is on the top of the results because of the followers I have.

So I guess all this will go on exponentially and that’s all I wanted to share with you, because maybe, like me, you didn’t know that and it’s always good to know ;)

Btw I’m Olivier Céréssia, 36 year old, webdesign/front-end dev. teacher @ Bruxelles Formation / Belgium.

Don’t hesitate to follow me on twitter (@the_OC_be), instagram (rhumy) or to subscribe to my playlist (ahah this is my first real playlist advertising — yay 🤘— ) :