In an almost-fully digitized music industry, revenue has mainly been centralized through streaming. Artists are looking for the most impactful playlists additions, whether they are editorial playlist or user generated ones. Today, we spoke with Allan from Xen Music, who built some of the highest performing third party playlists on Spotify. He started as an artist, building his own playlists and ultimately his own music label. He is now a curator on Groover!
Hey Allan, who are you and what’s your background?
I’m Allan, founder of Xen Music. I started writing music in 2014 for Hip-hop artists and I quickly realized that it was a very competitive segment, my network was limited so I didn’t have a lot of opportunities. I started to focus on Pop / EDM music in the Trap Nation style. I did this until 2019/2020 and I had more than 300K monthly listeners on Spotify.
As an artist, I decided to build my own playlists so that people could discover my own music. At this time, I had one of the biggest “gaming music” playlists and all the money I was making as an artist was reinvested in the playlists. It drove new playlists followers, so more and more streams. In the end, I would earn more than what I originally earned as an artist!
How did you get your first 100K playlist followers?
It’s a very simple equation: invest in ads.
I started with 2€ per day in Facebook ads, and I saw that the number of streams were growing from 20, 50 to 200 per day. It took me approximately 1 year and a half with an average of 25-50€/day to get to my first 100,000 playlist followers. Ads needs to be consistent if you want to grow your playlist over time; if you don’t do so, your playlist won’t accrue listeners as quickly”
There are some other platforms to leverage such as TikTok, but they are a little hard to control. I did a video on my TikTok account to promote my playlist, it went a little viral and I got 20,000 new followers from one day to another.
How do you build your editorial line for Xen Music?
There are several elements you need to look at when building up your editorial line, such as type of the playlist, emerging vs famous artists, number of songs, etc.
When you are building the editorial line, it’s very important to focus on a contextual moment: video games, coffee, etc. In my case, my best performing playlists are playlists for video games…and sex.
Emerging vs famous artists
I realize that it is very hard to keep a long-term audience when you only focus on emerging artists because when people search for a playlist :
- they won’t start listening if they don’t recognize a few big names, which can indicate ‘quality’
- seeing artists they like gives an understanding of the style of music the playlist will contain
- people across the board engage more on Spotify with music they know and like than new discoveries
So, I usually have the playlist contain 80% popular songs. When someone listens to a playlist, they want to discover new music but also listen to music they know, so I add 20% emerging music that has the same production quality as a popular one. If you do the other way around, 20% new and 80% emerging, you won’t create long-term retention. There’s a lot of playlists focusing on discovery that perform well, but I’m sure the long-term retention is lower. This is the way I run my model, because this is based on my own experience testing ratios of popular / emerging artists.
Number of songs
I don’t add more than 100 songs at a time because it’s extremely rare for someone to listen to a 6 hour playlist straight through. The listener would need to come back 4 or 5 times to entirely listen to the playlist, or play it in shuffle mode to potentially listen to all the songs. Depending on my playlists, the first spot can generate from 1,000 to 5,000 streams per day and the bottom position around 200 streams per day. So you can lose up to 80% of the listeners from top to bottom.
Skip & Save Rate
A high quality playlist results in more listens and saves, which is why I curate mine carefully to include top emerging talent. You’ll want the listener to entirely listen to your playlist and save as many song as possible. One thing to keep in mind is that familiar tracks are less likely to be skipped — the listener may already have an emotional bond with the song, know the lyrics, etc. As a result, the skip rate is usually higher for emerging artists, and the save rate is lower. This is part of why having a balance between familiar and new tracks is so important.
How long do you add artists for in your playlists Xen Music?
It depends on the music. If I really love it, it will be in the top spot, essentially because it’s a similar quality to famous artists / high-end production. On average I add songs for 15 to 30 days. If I receive 10 songs that I love, I won’t be able to add the 10 at the same time, so I need to create a schedule to remember which ones to share.
How do you monetize your playlist?
There is only 1 way to monetize your playlist: be part of submission platforms such as Groover.
When did you start on Groover with Xen Music?
I started on Groover 1 year ago. Submission platforms are a way for me to monetize my playlists on top of doing trading with other labels. I’ve also discovered some amazing artists that I’m currently working with on some releases!
> How do I get featured on Spotify’s editorial playlists
> How can you get more Spotify streams
> How do you get your music on Spotify playlists?
> How to grow your own playlist and gain followers
> How to get on Spotify algorithmic playlists