Reports Music

Playlist Strategies 2020

Report by Keith Jopling
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The 20,000 Foot View:  Playlists have become a core music consumption habit and, in turn, one of the most valuable marketing commodities in music. A prominent playlist placement remains a key objective of most new release strategies and is a higher priority than radio play for many artists. Nevertheless, the supply of new songs outstrips the number of premium slots, and most artists still struggle to get onto playlists. The streaming platforms continue to iterate playlist strategies and, at last, differentiate. But where are the game changers? How much more longevity do playlists have now that podcasts and smart speakers are gaining traction? 

In this report, we explore label strategies specifically. Should labels choose to invest in new strategies now, or focus on what’s next beyond playlists?

Key Insights

MIDiA’s ‘Playlist Revolution’ report recently highlighted that, although playlists are becoming valuable commercial music real estate in their current form, there is plenty of scope for further creative development of the format. We are far from ‘peak playlist’. 

  • Playlists have transformed music consumption, with        of playlist users stating they are listening to albums less because of playlists
  • Spotify remains the key power in playlists, but its competitors’ playlist properties are starting to see similar levels of usage across their own subscriber bases
  • Apple, Amazon, SoundCloud and Deezer all ramping up playlist brands and initiatives – thus, the growth runway for playlists remains positive in the short-term
  • Music subscribers overall are the most engaged playlist users        monthly average usage), although the        increase in listening to curated playlists over the past two years has coincided with a decline in self-compiled playlists
  • Personalisation may drive incremental growth, but a more social and sharing approach to playlists may be ‘white space’ opportunity for the format
  • Social, shared playlists may increase the discovery element that has been reduced as playlists have become longer and more personalised
  • With smart speakers now commonplace, playlisting must innovate to maintain its current relevance alongside other ‘packaged’ content, such as podcasts and stations/radio
  • Out of        artists tracked by MIDiA, two in five are posting playlists to their Spotify Artist Pick pages but a further        are not using the function
  • Labels should leverage artist playlists better and use artist pages to engage through playlists during ‘off-cycle’ promotion periods
  • Labels could collaborate more systematically with third-party playlist brands and blogs, to both work around and directly influence on-platform curated and algorithmic playlists

Companies and brands mentioned in this report:        Amazon Music Unlimited, Apple Music, Chartmetric, Facebook,, Level, Ninja Tunes, Noon Pacific, PIAS, Play Later, Sirius XM/Pandora, SoundCloud,, Sony Music, Spotify, Stationhead, Universal Music, Vans, Warner Music, YouTube

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