Spotify's Fan Study - how data-driven insights can boost engagement, catalogue and even hoodie sales

Spotify's Fan Study - how data-driven insights can boost engagement, catalogue and even hoodie sales

Spotify For Artists has launched a microsite featuring 15 data-driven insights about fan behaviour.

The Fan Study is designed to help artists and labels lean into their audience’s patterns of consumption to boost their Spotify numbers for campaigns, as well as selling merch and driving catalogue consumption.

Fan Study revelations include the fact that the top 5% of fans listen six times more than the rest of an act’s audience on Spotify. The study also shows that the addition of a track to a user’s personal playlist means that listening for that artist will subsequently increase by 41%. 

Catalogue streams get a 15-20% lift when artists release new music, and 53% of releases peak more than seven days after release day. Spotify For Artists has tips on how to extend the life of releases and boost catalogue.

Merch preferences also vary by location, according to the study. Fans in London buy the most hoodies and shirts, while Seattle fans buy the most vinyl.

Here, Sam Duboff, head of creator product and brand marketing, Spotify, digs into the data exclusively for Music Week

How are other platforms funnelling people to music on Spotify?

“We’re finding that artists are increasingly able to find and cultivate new music fans in a bunch of unexpected communities. Whether it’s curating upbeat playlists for fitness apps, e-gaming live with fans, or sharing long-form thoughts with fans in a recurring newsletter — artists are innovating smart ways to bridge those new connections into fans of their music on streaming services. Artists have interests and hobbies outside music – whether it’s fitness, cooking, gaming, travel, or writing – and more and more, they are finding ways to connect those interests with their music through more specialised social platforms.” 

How can artists lean into the blurring of genres in terms of reaching new fans – are there particular genres that are more compatible with each other?

“We’ve found that music fans today are more and more open to listening to a myriad of genres. They’re less constrained by having a defined or articulated taste and more open to exploring. You might be surprised by the data we found — for example, 53% of metal fans also follow hip-hop artists on Spotify.  And 73% of classical music fans also follow rock artists on Spotify. Artists are leading the way here, producing music that spans genres and finding collaborators that expand their sound.

“These findings echo the appetite we’ve seen for some of our ‘genre-agnostic’ playlists like Lorem, Pollen, Oyster, and more. Fans aren’t always seeking out a specific sound, but are often after a specific vibe, a community of like-minded (and open-minded) fans.  

“In February, we made a small, but important update to our playlist pitching tool in Spotify For Artists. Previously, artists could select three subgenres in their metadata when pitching to our editors — but they had to be in the same overall genre. Now, artist teams can select any three subgenres that reflect the sound of the track. We made this update because we’ve seen so many artists follow fans in leaving narrow genre definitions behind and following their inspiration.” 

How much does a track being saved boost consumption – and how can artists encourage this behaviour?

“The Fan Study data showed us that fans who save an artist’s track will listen to it three times more — even six months later. This tells us that it’s important for artists to encourage fans not just to listen to their music upon release, but to save their music to their libraries, to make sure they keep listening. 

“In Spotify For Artists, we’re building tools to help artists drive long-term fan connections, not just find passive listeners who stream them once. So when artists add a looping Canvas to their track, create a Marquee campaign to prime a more intentional listening session of their release, or even record a Music + Talk show giving commentary on their music — those are great ways to stand out with fans and drive long-term fan actions like saving, playlisting, and sharing.”

Our vision is a music industry that puts actionable data and powerful tools directly in the hands of artists and their teams

Sam Duboff

How important are the super fans – and how can artists drive consumption further among those devotees?

“Our vision is a music industry that puts actionable data and powerful tools directly in the hands of artists and their teams, so they have control over growing their own fan bases and careers. With that in mind, we find that creating and connecting with super fans is incredibly important. They make up an artist’s community, and it’s crucial to nurture them. In fact, we found that the top 5% of your fans are listening six times more than the rest.   

“Spotify For Artists has so many potent tools for keeping super fans engaged — whether it’s Canvas, Fans First exclusive offers, artist playlists, Marquee, or the follow button. These are the types of resources accessible to artists at all stages of their careers that have been proven to deepen super fan engagement. Something we uncovered in the Fan Study is that after a fan adds your track to their personal playlist, they’ll listen to you 41% more. But, they’ll also look at your profile 12% more, and end up making 60% of all your merch purchases – another reason to foster these super fan relationships.”

We've seen how some tracks and albums decline after a week one chart appearance. How can artists improve long-term performance of new music and revitalise catalogue?

“The day of a release always sees a massive spike on Spotify — but artists should always be thinking beyond just release day. In fact, we learned in the Fan Study that 53% of releases peak more than seven days after release. To sustain fan engagement, as well as long-term career goals, artists should build a release strategy that goes well beyond release day into the following weeks and even months. Keep promoting and sharing on socials after their release drops to keep people listening.

“It’s also important to pair your new release strategy with a catalogue strategy, too. We found that back catalogue streams get a 15-20% lift after a new release, so artists should think about how to refresh and promote their catalogue as part of their release plan to further fuel that lift. Curate your old music into new artist playlists? Add a fresh Canvas to an old track? Find a sync placement for a song you think could find a new life? New releases can be a great way to light a spark on your past work.  

“We want to give artists and their teams more agency over the audiences they can build on Spotify, whether it’s a new release or back catalogue. So that’s why we’re building promotional products like Marquee and Discovery Mode that give them a chance to reach new audiences when it matters most to them.” 

With live still on hold, how can artists drive merch sales via Spotify?

“Fan Study has a lot of excellent insights into how music fandom can drive your merch business. People may not think of Spotify For Artists yet when it comes to merch, but as artists start to plan their first post-Covid tour and the associated merch tables, we’re hoping the merch insights help artists think through how to use streaming data and their presence on Spotify to drive sales.  

“So for five of the seven major genres we looked at, vinyl was the top selling merch item — but for rock & metal, it’s shirts over vinyl by a landslide. So if artists aren’t thinking about vinyl drops, they’re missing out. Though if you’re a rock or metal artist, investing in more shirt SKUs might be worth it. And our data also showed that a lot of smaller artists are able to outsell bigger acts in merch sales — likely by having a really passionate fanbase and more proactive merch strategy. So even if you’re touring smaller venues, having unique merch items will still drive sales – and make sure to keep your hoodies in stock when touring London, since that city buys the most of them!

“We can’t wait for live music to come back, but during the past year, we’ve seen artists use Spotify For Artists in clever ways to drive merch. Whether it’s pinning your latest merch as an Artist Pick on your profile, using our virtual event listings to sell tickets or merch around a livestream, or running a Fans First offer, we’ve definitely seen fans on Spotify seek out merch of their favourite artists, while they are waiting to be able to see them again live in concert.” 

Spotify For Artists’ Fan Study is available here.

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