How to Measure the Value of Playlist Placement

Playlist: How to Measure Its Impact?
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In the age of streaming, getting your music placed in a popular playlist is one of the most valuable ways to get heard by thousands of music streamers.  However, not all playlists are created equal.

While some playlists have a larger following than others, it’s important to target your outreach to get your music heard by the right listeners – ones that are likely to buy merchandise and come see you perform.

So how do you know which playlists will attract loyal fans? How can you improve your outreach efforts to get your music into more valuable playlists?

The best way to improve future playlist outreach efforts is to measure the impact of each placement you get. While there’s no definitive way to do this, you can accomplish some level of analysis by looking at different trends in your sales and on social media.

Here’s how to do that.

Attributing social media growth to playlist placement

Currently, there’s no way to directly attribute an increase in social media followers to playlist placement.  If someone discovers your music in Spotify or Apple Music, there are no links to your social media accounts.  And any listed merchandise likely doesn’t have tracking values placed in the URLs.

Because of this, you need to do some extra analysis.

You want to track how many times your song has been shared before you’ve been placed in any playlists.  Then, compare that to what happens after each playlist placement.  Shares can give you an idea of how much the playlist’s followers like your music.

On your preferred streaming service, copy the URL of the song that was placed in the playlist.  Then paste it into this social share counter.  You should check shares for your songs at least once a week to get an idea of what your standard weekly share count is. And, after each playlist placement to see how well your music performed in the playlist in terms of social media.

Social media shares vs. playlist followers

Compare your increase in social media shares to the playlists followers.  For example, if the playlist has 10,000 followers, and your social shares increased by 500 the week your song was placed, you can safely assume that 5% of the playlists followers liked your song enough to tell their friends.  These people are also likely to have saved your song to a playlist of their own.  They may ultimately convert into loyal followers.

Next, check your growth in followers on different social media accounts.  If your Facebook page experienced a spike in likes, you may be able to attribute this to playlist placement.

See how well all of your metrics perform after being placed in a playlist.  The playlists that produce the biggest leap in social media followers and shares are the most valuable.  So you want to find more of these.

Pay attention to the timing of these metrics.  If you see spikes in your analytics, check different streaming platforms to see if your music was placed in a popular playlist that you can attribute this success to.

Other tracking tools

You can also see if the playlist placement lead to any media placement using tools like Mention, which tracks all online mentions of your brand (or band) name.  This can help you identify blogs that mentioned your music as a result of the playlist placement.

After doing this for a few playlists, you’ll get an idea of the types of playlists your music performs best in.  And, which playlists have the most engaged followers.

Attributing sales growth to playlist placement

Social media growth is great, but what’s most important for music industry success is sales.  If the growth of your fan base from playlist placement doesn’t translate to merchandise or event ticket sales, then ultimately, the growth doesn’t matter.

Again, aside from streaming royalties, there is no direct way to attribute sales to playlist placement.  You’ll need to track sales that come from new social media growth to attempt any attribution.

In direct-to-fan platforms like Bandcamp, you can see where the sales came from through their analytics.  For social media traffic, the attribution is simple.  If the spike in sales is aligned with a spike in social media growth, and the sales are coming from your social media accounts, you can safely attribute this to your playlist placement.

Search traffic

For direct traffic to your website from search engines, you’ll need to do some digging.

Make sure your website is set up with Google search console.  If it isn’t, be sure to set it up before you start any playlist outreach efforts.  This tool can be used to track search terms that Google Analytics doesn’t pick up by looking at clicks.

It usually takes a few days to pick up new search data.  First, try to find the different keywords used to find your website.  That will help you identify new intentions and sources of discovery.  For example, users may land on your website searching for terms like “the band that plays Karma in Spotify’s breakdown playlist.”

Understanding the limitations

Unfortunately, right now, the best we can do to attribute growth to playlist placement is to directly compare an increase in social media followers and sales to an increase in streams.  The platforms used by musicians are so fragmented, and every service that exists wants user exclusivity.  If Spotify or Apple Music were to link to social media accounts and artists websites, while this would be great for artists, they’d lose user attention.  A great fix for this problem would be to open up better analytics for musicians, and let them engage with and sell to their fans on the streaming platform directly.

For now, by seeing which playlists result in greater increases in sales and social media followers, you can better target your outreach in the future for better long term results.


Top image by Lars Plougmann (CC by SA 2.0).