In our new rock issue of Music Week, we crunch the latest numbers on streaming for the genre based on exclusive Official Charts Company data.
While it’s a mixed picture, there’s no doubt about the success of bands including Music Week cover stars Bring Me The Horizon on DSPS, alongside classic catalogue from Queen, Linkin Park, Fall Out Boy, Green Day and more.
If rock is going to continue to build its presence on DSPs, Spotify’s role will be vital. Spotify For Artists provides a suite of tools for bands to grow on streaming at a time during a global pandemic when live is not available to build audiences. Successful pitches can secure a placement in The Pit playlist.
Last month Spotify’s playlist Rock This extended its global brand with a podcast featuring music.
Here, James Foley, editorial lead at Spotify, and Annika Walsh, artist and label partnerships lead, open up about the streaming giant’s backing for rock…
How are you supporting rock as a genre on the platform?
James Foley: “We are supporting rock as a genre on the platform in a number of ways. I’m responsible for the editorial side of music at Spotify, and so for me and my team it’s about having a robust playlist ecosystem, which we continue to develop on an ongoing basis. Flagship playlists like The Rock List, The Punk List and Metal UK have all become popular destinations for rock fans in the UK and Ireland and beyond. More recently we have launched The Pit for heavier rock and Misfits 2.0 speaks to the new generation of artists with large, hyper-engaged audiences who are making music that crosses out of, and beyond, the traditional rock sound.
“We have long supported rock not just through playlists that speak to fans of that genre but also through mood and activity playlists that can appeal outside the core rock listener. Walk Like A Badass, Rock Workout and Air Punch are all examples of this and they perform really well for us. Then you have Blood, Shred and Tears – a mood playlist that showcases a more delicate rock sound, which is also proving popular. Catalogue lists are still vital within the overall ecosystem too with Rock Classics and Legendary among the big titles.”
Annika Walsh: “Outside of editorial and playlists, Spotify partners on rock releases in the UK and Ireland all year round. We’re always looking at new ways to support existing and up and coming artists through artist partnerships. This includes significant marketing investment, be it on-platform with our tools such as push notification, home banner or CRM email, or off platform with organic social content, paid social campaigns, and comprehensive artist marketing campaigns which can include ATL support, PR, events and more.
“We also have our global emerging artist programme Radar and UK feeder programme Radar: First Listen, which is another way that we support rock talent (as well as talent from other genres). We recently selected Noisy as a Radar: First Listen artist which guaranteed them editorial support and a paid social campaign.”
What’s really important to us is that we’re representing all sub-genres of rock
What do you look for in a rock act to get behind them on the platform?
AW: “When it comes to what we look for in a rock act at Spotify, it really starts with the music. We ask our artist and label partners to deliver music to us as early as possible. This gives us as a UK music team, plus all our music teams worldwide, as much time to hear the record, discuss it and make plans for how we might promote it. We’ll speak to the artist and their team for additional context about the writing and recording process, any key themes or messages within the songs, their creative vision, the goals they have for the project and so on and from here we’ll determine if there are opportunities for us to partner with them on the release. Finding out as much as we can about them is really key – it’s an exciting part of our jobs and leads to great creative collaboration.
“When we plan our artist partnerships we also always aim for fair representation across genre, gender, race, ethnicity, stage of career, audience type etc. We want our offering to be truly diverse and showcase the full extent of musical creativity in the UK and Ireland.
“In terms of campaigns we recently ran a hugely successful partnership with Idles and their team (Partisan Records, PIAS and Mother Artist Management) for their No.1 album Ultra Mono, which tapped into a wide range of on and off platform promotional elements such as targeted banners, Storylines (our digital liner notes feature) and paid digital marketing to build their audience, drive engagement and increase streams. Other recent notable campaigns include Bring Me The Horizon, The Hunna, Fontaines DC and Neck Deep, whose dogs even joined in on their Instagram takeover and definitely deserve a mention! We’re also currently working on a partnership for Yungblud’s incredible album Weird! with our US team. He’s created a fanbase, a community of people who feel welcome and loved just as they are, free from judgement and of course we want to celebrate that and help deepen his connection with his fans, so watch this space for more on that very soon...”
What are the key rock playlists for new and current releases, how important are they for the rock community?
JF: “Having a well-developed playlist ecosystem is important for all genres and rock is no different. From playlists with emerging rock talent like Hot New Bands, All New Rock and New Noise to more familiar names in The Rock List and globally of course, Rock This.
“What’s really important to us is that we’re representing all sub-genres of rock, which we do over a diverse array of playlists. There have never been more opportunities to connect fans and artists, especially the younger fans. If we’re moving with both the artists and the audiences to unearth and support that diverse range of exciting talent that’s out there, then we’re doing right by everyone who loves rock music.”
What are the opportunities for further growth for the genre?
JF: “Building on audiences who interpret and connect with rock in its modern form, who have really redefined the genre for the streaming era, presents some really exciting growth opportunities for the next wave of British and Irish rock stars on Spotify. I would also say that surfacing the relatively untapped wealth of catalogue, which is still loved by audiences young and old can fuel even more growth. Creating spaces for previously underrepresented talent also provides a massive and important opportunity to let new voices through.”
The rock issue is out now – subscribers can click here for our exclusive report on rock and streaming.
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