Hall Johnson is a fledgling indie rock band from Colleyville, but if you visit its Facebook page, you'll see that its local presence is pretty small. It has 82 "likes" and no upcoming shows announced. On Spotify, though? You get the idea it's one of DFW's hottest new bands.
Hall Johnson has a monthly listener base of more than 3,000 on the music streaming app, which boasts 5 million paying users. One of its songs, "City of Lights," has been streamed 20,000 times.
On Spotify, every stream translates to a little money — about .00013 cents in royalties per listen — so volume counts. Hall Johnson is an example of Spotify's power to help artists subvert the traditional model of success: playing out and building a reputation where you live.
“We all pretty much checked Spotify every day. After we released those singles, one day we woke up and our monthly listeners had jumped from about 300 to 3,000, and we could barely believe," Tommy Stuart, the band's lead guitarist, says. "It turns out we had been slotted into a playlist called Release Radar. ... It really helped us a lot.”
Spotify uses algorithms to build its hundreds of playlists. For example, Release Radar picks 30 tracks released that week, creating lots of opportunities for new artists.
Other playlists are organized by genre, activity or decade.
Artists wanting to get picked up for a Spotify playlist should make sure they have profiles in the database Rovi. Spotify uses it to identify related artists to package in playlists and in the personalized “Because You Like” section.
Once Spotify's algorithm picked up “City Lights" for the Relase Radar playlist, traffic to Hall Johnson's artist page increased tenfold. Soon it had become a "verified" artist, which opens up a new world of perks, including access to important analytics that Hall Johnson had accrued.
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Spotify used to verify any artist with more than 250 followers. In April, it changed to an application model.
"We were already very close to reaching 250 followers and becoming verified at the time that it changed, after which we became verified," says Trevor Stovall, who plays guitar and synth in Hall Johnson.
Stovall says the band is using Spotify's analytics to help it book shows. It's looking at other cities with lots of listeners to determine where it would have the most draw.
“It allows us to view geographic streaming patterns, as well as new followers, while also telling us who shared our music and how many new streams we received that week," he says. "It even notified us that we had been slotted into that playlist."