PeachTree Music Group

Sunday, November 4, 2018

Spotify playlist pitching review of Playlist Push

First want to give a quick shoutout to Ari's Take partner AWAL. They have a helpful blog post on when you get included on a Spotify playlist, how to make sure you don't get bumped off of it. Check it out here. 
Also, as a reminder, enrollment for Ari's Take Academy: How To Become a Successful Touring Artist closes Tuesday! Join us. 
I got an email from a long-time reader and very talented artist, Jessica Lá Rel who shared her experience with Playlist Push and had some very understandable concerns. 
But first, I want to update you on Playlist Push since my first report came out a few weeks back. For those of you just getting caught up to speed, I’ve been digging into all things Spotify the past couple years. Specifically, how to get included in playlists. I reviewed SubmitHub, which proved to be somewhat helpful at getting (small) blog coverage, but the playlists on the service were totally fake with no real engagement. I pointed this out in my review and since then, they completely changed the way they accept and rate the playlists you can submit to on the service. Props to SubmitHub for taking it seriously and changing course! 
I also wrote about how my album got removed for using a service I thought was a legit playlist pitching company, but was in fact using bots to increase streams (in addition to getting the song included on some playlists). 
I’ve spoken to many streaming experts ranging from owners of playlist pitching companies to big time distributors with playlist pitching departments to labels to managers to marketing agencies to Spotify employees. The biggest takeaways are that it’s the Wild Wild West out here in the digital streaming world and that what is true today may not be tomorrow. 
This all being said, after extensively looking into Playlist Push (testing two very different songs on the platform), interviewing the founder and a couple managers and artists who have used the service, I determined it was one of the few legitimate services out there to pitch your songs to user generated playlists. 
That being said, it is flawed. But the founder George knows they have work to do and are actively working to improve their service (and are listening to all the critiques and constructive criticism I’m tossing their way). After I posted my review, I became a “curator” on Playlist Push for my Low Volume Funk playlist so I could see it from the OTHER side of the equation. I have since updated the review to reveal my findings. 
To catch you up - as a curator of a 2,550 follower playlist (with about 400/monthly listeners) - it's not really a money-making venture unless you're doing SERIOUS volume. Currently I'm making $2/song. Considering I (or my team) listen to each song in its entirety and then try to write a thoughtful review, it's not really worth the time for me. But I understand other curators probably have more time or only listen to a snippet of the song and write short reviews. And as a curator grows within the platform they could be earning up to $20/song if their playlist is gigantic (500,000 followers or so). But, again, most are probably around the $2-$5/song mark.
The biggest frustration I’ve noticed having been a curator on the platform for just over a week is that most of the songs I’m being sent aren’t remotely close to the songs on my playlist. I selected the genres “Funk” “Soul” and “R&B” and the songs on the playlist all have organic instruments - not created ‘in-the-box.’ Most of the songs submitted to me, however, are hip hop or pop songs that are fully electronic (no real instruments). So, if an artist selects the “Soul,” “R&B” or “Funk” genres, I’ll get sent the song. I really wish there was a better genre selection tool that only sent songs that would actually fit on the playlist. I feel bad that these artists are wasting their money sending the songs to me. Some of the songs are great! They just don’t fit on the playlist. 
At least on SubmitHub, you can personally pick the playlists you’re submitting to. With this, you have to just trust that Playlist Push will send your songs to the appropriate curators. The founder, George, and I had a call today where I expressed this frustration (after passing along the below email from Jessica) and he did mention that they have a totally new genre selection process rolling out very soon. I’ll update the review once that is fully implemented.
Jessica’s email: 
I wanted to reach out to share with you a recent experience I’ve had. I’ve been following you for a long time. Back in the early days of Ari’s Take, to the webinars, the book, the online course, the live full day panel events, etc. I’ve considered you one of the most genuine voices I’ve come across in the industry thus far. I‘m loyal; I preach the gospel of Ari Herstand to other creatives. I buy your various packages and have been a subscriber for over 5 years now. I trust your feedback and insight not just because you do your homework and have lived experience, but also because you have built a brand around trust by providing resources to independent artists all over. You have focused on those that often get neglected or taken advantage of in such a brutal industry.
But recently I had an experience that brought me to a crossroads with that trust. I usually don’t write emails this long, so I apologize in advance for the length.
I had some difficulty using the new Spotify For Artists feature when they first announced their beta product in July. I released 2 eps and a culminating album between May and October. So it was nice to hear your perspective on ways to approach Spotify playlists beyond the beta feature. After reading your review of Playlist Push, I checked them out. The approach made sense to me: genre based outreach and a genre/playlist potential based payout structure. I spoke with customer service throughout the process to determine which kinds of campaigns to set up. I had previously conducted a survey with fans to determine which songs would make for the best Spotify playlist campaigns. So I set up 3 campaigns. 1 for a song on the 2nd EP that would run until the release of the album. And then the last two to run concurrently as soon as the album dropped. 
The first campaign for a song called Home Above Water did not perform well via Playlist Push. At first, I just took it as a sign that the music wasn’t there yet. But then I looked at the reviews of the song and realized that there was a major problem. The song was registered as Soul, but the reviews were coming from folks who curate lists for “depressing hip hop”, EDM, electro pop, Reggae, etc. Everyone kept saying “it doesn’t fit this kind of playlist”, and I’m thinking, “of course! This song is definitely not EDM, hip hop, pop or reggae. Think Eryn Allen Kane, Chance the Rapper’s more inspirational songs/Donnie Trumpet and the Social Experiment, Grace Weber, etc.
I spoke with customer service about it. They seemed to understand. I requested to cancel the upcoming campaigns and get a refund for the first. Steve then offered to do one more campaign, and if it also doesn’t satisfy me then he would refund me for all three campaigns. He offered a full refund on all three songs. I was hesitant to continue, but he insisted that the next song would have more options because it fit R&B and Soul. So together there would be more targeted playlists to submit to.
Within the first day, the second song Lighthouse landed on a Reggaeton playlist. So I knew I was heading down the same road. I reached out the second day of the campaign but didn’t hear anything for 1.5 weeks. By that time, it had been placed on 5 playlists: Reggaeton, Boy Bands, Hip Hop, a pop playlist, and finally your Low Volume Funk playlist. So at this point of the 5 playlists, the one that comes remotely close to my actual genre is curated by the same person who encouraged me to check out the platform in the first place. I felt debilitated in a number of ways. 
In the end, I argued quite a bit with customer service. They reneged on their refund offer, claimed a full refund from them was not possible and was unfair, and that no one complains about getting on 5 playlists. I tried to explain to them that it’s not about the quantity of playlists or listeners but the quality of listeners. Getting on a reggae playlist does not help me get my music to fans and potential fans where they actually are. If anything, it makes them less prone to engage with my music because they are listening to a reggae playlist with the intent of listening to actual reggae, not cinematic soul. Everything I do is in an effort to reach potential superfans.
I ended up walking away with a partial refund and plenty of condescending remarks from Steve... but more than that I lost a lot of trust. In an industry with little mentorship for independent artists, you were the closest thing to a reliable resource I had, and to find out that the agency you recommended was pretty much a scam (like the others you discuss in the blog) that would take my money and throw my music at any Playlist that bites- and then to find out that you’re getting paid on both ends (for referring them and then for curating), didn’t necessarily help. 

So first off, I want to give Jessica major props for sending me this very heartfelt email. And for being so candid. Not everyone speaks up when they are experiencing frustrations or roadblocks, but the only way to make things better is by approaching them head on. I know it must have been frustrating to spend a good amount of money on a campaign and then be disappointed by it. I've done it time and time and time again. I'm sure you have too. 
I want to hear your successes and your pitfalls. All of them. The good, the bad, the ugly. We’re all in this crazy industry together! And I am a student first. I want to learn so I can teach. Nothing brings me more joy than being able to pass along valuable information that I learn and to see you use it successfully. 
I do want to be perfectly clear about my involvement with Playlist Push (and any company I review). I never accept an affiliate code or advertising partnership until AFTER I write my review so my review is completely unbiased. I never let the companies read my review before it’s posted. And I only accept affiliate codes or ad partnerships with companies I believe in. Some companies I reviewed negatively have attempted to throw money at me to change my review. But I turn them down at every corner because all I have is my reputation and the trust I have built with the community.
No, I cannot be bought off. I will not take money from companies or people I don’t believe in.
After my extensive review of Playlist Push, it seems like a valuable service. I stand by it (today). Will that ever change? Maybe. But like any ad partner I’ve ever had, when I get complaints from readers I take them immediately straight to the top. If they aren’t resolved to our satisfaction immediately, I end our relationship and I write about what happened. However, the good ones out there take their customer complaints very seriously and resolve the issues quickly. 
I understand the responsibility I have being one of the few working artists out there with so much access to people in the industry and I take this responsibility very seriously. I’m always looking out for artists and I answer to no one but you. 
Whatever you’re experiencing, the good, the bad and the inspirational. Lemme hear it! I can’t promise I will be able to get back to you, but I do promise to read it, think and digest. 
Much love,

PS - if you dig funk/soul follow my Low Volume Funk Spotify playlist and hit me with some song suggestions.

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