Playlist Of The Year!

Have you heard the new Death Cab For Cutie track “Black Sun”?

Not “Black Hole Sun,” this is definitely not Soundgarden, and if you don’t know Death Cab For Cutie, even if you’ve never heard of them, that’s irrelevant if you like rock music, you’re gonna get it immediately, you’re gonna wonder where it’s been hiding, why you couldn’t find it earlier.

I did.

Music has become incomprehensible. There’s too much and not enough good and I don’t know where to start. The radio stations are beholden to the labels, and they’re not on demand in an on demand culture, and online there’s a plethora of material and the playlists are too long with too many clunkers and then this guy e-mails me to check out his Spotify playlist and I start listening and I’m positively stunned, he’s managed to extract the key tracks from all these bands I’ve heard of but don’t know how to penetrate.

The opening cut is by Florence + The Machine, who I certainly know but never really got, and I like this but don’t love it, and then the follow-up cut is Alabama Shakes’ “Don’t Wanna Fight” which is good but not good enough and then comes…Death Cab.

This guy picked out the one Noel Gallagher cut you’ve got to hear. It’s good. I’ve read so much hype but I don’t know where to start, now I do.

Then there’s stuff that doesn’t fly on the mainstream radar but is so infectious you wonder why it does not, like Django Django’s “First Light.”

Or how about Proxima Parada’s “Climb To Love”?

Now this playlist is not hip-hop, and it only occasionally crosses over to pop, but if you’re a rock fan, mostly without the roll, if you like that white boy music but feel that they stopped making good stuff in the seventies, before MTV, when everything became obvious, you’re gonna love this!

Now I’m telling you, there are so few tune-outs. Unlike every other playlist I check out. You see curation is a skill.

The guy’s name is “Songpickr.”

All you need to search on is that in Spotify.

Oh, you don’t have a Spotify account? What’s wrong with you? You call yourself a music fan? That’s where everybody is, where the action is, you want to be where the action is, right?

And Songpickr has other playlists, even one for Classic Rock, but the one I’m talking about is: “Songpickr: 2015 Best Songs of the Year (Indie, Rock, Alternative, Folk, Singer-Songwriter, Soul…)”

You search for it and when you find it you click to follow it and then it’s in your playlist list and click to have it sync to your mobile device, so it upgrades on the fly and you can hear the new stuff as it’s put up there.

Now I really like about 70% of the tracks. And I haven’t found a curator this good…EVER! Makes my heart pitter-patter, makes me a believer…

Makes me think music has a chance.

For you, me and EVERYBODY!

I corresponded with Songpickr and this is what he told me:

I do all the Songpickr playlists but 90% of my time is spent on the “Best Songs of 2015” playlist which has over 72,000 followers today.

I started when Spotify launched in Germany in March 2012. I was one of the first users in Germany.

There was a big Coke summer campaign – one of spotify’s first brand deals – with a nationwide billboard campaign. Clue was users could upload/share their playlists on a landing page and brand them with a cover. I was one of the first users who uploaded a playlist so everybody who went to this landing page saw my playlist. By the end of 2012 I had approx 5-6k followers.

Then I made a mistake: On Jan 1st 2013 I started “Best Songs 2013” – a new playlist with zero followers while other users just renamed their playlist from 2012 to 2013 and kept their followers. Unfortunately I only recognized it when I already had 1-2k on my new playlist and I wanted to keep them.

2013 to 2014 and 2014 to 2015 I didn’t repeat the mistake but simply renamed my playlist at the beginning of the year so I could keep building my followers. A lot of users do “Best Songs of Jan”, “Feb”, “March”, etc. – all separate playlists. They will not reach a critical mass.

SEO within Spotify is important. In the early days basically every word, artist, genre, festival, etc. you put in your title or description text helped surfacing your playlist in the search results. When you typed in Bonnaroo, Coachella, Singer-Sonwriter – Songpickr came up first. Soon the discription texts were kind of abused so Spotify changed their search mechanic. Not working this way anymore.

It’s a little bit like on Youtube in the early days – everybody experiments. It is tougher now if you didn’t start early: Spotify’s acquisition of Tunigo and Echonest was a game changer. I was lucky because I had uploaded my playlist to before it was acquired and shut down. After the shutdown nobody could upload playlists themselves.

I follow every artist I add on Spotify, Facebook and Twitter and contact them to tell them that I added a track and kindly ask for a post in return. Because I mostly add newcomers, unsigned artists, indie repertoire the feedback is more positive than I expected. I think they see that I love music, that I am a fan not a business. 40% of my bitly traffic comes from the US. As a rule you can say that artists who have less than 50% of my playlist followers will consider a post but artists with more followers than I have don’t even respond.

I invest more time than anyone else I know to hear, see and find music. And I want to pass on what I find so other people who don’t want to put in the same effort still get easy access to great music they otherwise would not hear on the radio or tv.

You like rock, indie, singer-songwriter, folk, americana, soul – simply follow my playlist and never miss a great song or at least always have enough fresh new music without investing a minute to find it yourself.

Some artists even follow my playlist and profile and listen to my playlist so it shows up in their activity feed.

Also users share and post my playlists via Twitter or privately. Classic word-of-mouth.

I usually do this “playlist work” before I go to bed or in the morning before I go to work. Most of the time is spent on Saturday and Sunday. In total I probably spend around 7h per week to find new music.

I listened 64,000 min on Spotify in 2013 89,000 min in 2014.

I read the relevant music magazines but they became kind of slow and outdated. I don’t want to read about releases two months after I added them to my playlists.

Blogs are better. Spotify, iTunes, Shazam Charts. Hype Machine. – nobody talks about since CBS acquired it but it is an incredible source for great recommendations if you have a huge “scrobble history”. I have scrobbled 124.000 tracks since 2006 so their machine knows me pretty good.

I also follow approx 200 other playlists from Spotify, Digster, Filter, Topsify, Tastemakers with similar music taste. I listen to ALL tracks they add. You can see patterns. Who copies from who for example. How tracks evolve over time. You call that “playlist seeding”.

My guess is that we will see tons of playlist promotion companies pop up over the next years – like radio, press, online, tv promotion agencies. A lot of labels already added Songpickr to their promotion lists.

In terms of repertoire I like to pick songs which are unique, touch my heart. If I personally don’t like it I don’t pick it no matter how hyped the band is. Credibility is all you have. I don’t like it to be too mainstream but also not too edgy. It should still appeal to many people. It needs to work on shuffle so nothing too extreme on the heavy or arty side. I try to have a mix of different genres that work as a collection.

Of course you need some hits on top of the list in the visible first 10-20 tracks. When I once featured too many unknown artists in the first 10 tracks my new weekly users went down by 50%. People need to see some familiar names as a reference if the rest of the playlist is relevant for them. It is a little bit like the compilation business or radio programming.

Because I like my playlist to work like a radio station I always have between 200-300 songs. Otherwise you will often hear the same songs if you shuffle. I like people to discover new music.

After approx. max. 12 month I delete songs and move them over to my archive playlists. So right now the 2015 playlist features songs from April 2014 to March 2015. It’s always a rolling 12-month-period.

And I update almost daily – at least 2-3 times per week. People see that you care about your list.

2 Responses to Playlist Of The Year!


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  1. […] How To Optimize Your Spotify Playlist […]

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  3. Pingback by fight the power | gonequantum | 2015/03/31 at 12:52:02

    […] plus, you always wanted to have Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged and MJs Thriller album, so yeah. Spotify  lists are incredible in their eclectic I’ll-listen-to-what-I-goddamn-want style. I think […]

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  1. […] How To Optimize Your Spotify Playlist […]

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    1. Pingback by fight the power | gonequantum | 2015/03/31 at 12:52:02

      […] plus, you always wanted to have Nirvana’s MTV Unplugged and MJs Thriller album, so yeah. Spotify  lists are incredible in their eclectic I’ll-listen-to-what-I-goddamn-want style. I think […]

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