Every week my robots scour the most credible playlists in Australia to see who’s getting the most tastemaker support. A side-effect of this is that we can also see not only the tracks that are added, but the types of tracks that tend to get added to each playlist – this gives us a map of how each playlist tends to behave.
Er… so what?
Fair question. But if you’re trying to place a new track by an Australian artist, this might help with which playlists to approach, for which size of act, and for which phase of a release.
🧭 AUSTRALIAN NEW MUSIC PLAYLIST MAP
Here’s how the map works. It’s based on two metrics, which let you break it into a grid:
- The first metric is simple, and is just the artist’s Popularity Score, taken direct from Spotify’s API. Because all the playlist sources mostly focus on newly-released music this is an indicator of where the artist is in terms of popularity at-or-near time of release.
- The second metric is the track’s Popularity Score. This is also taken from the API, but it’s inverted ie a score of 100 in the API would here equal a score of zero. I’ve done this (and also called it ‘Freshness’ instead) because this way you can see how new a track is. Because many playlists add tracks on the day of release, its track popularity at that point is zero (because it’s only just been released). It’s a lot easier to read a chart where the ‘most’ of a thing is a higher number, hence I’ve inverted it so that a brand new track with a popularity score of zero is here shown with a score of 100 ie the most new it can possibly be.
Once you’ve got these two metrics, you can build the grid – looking at it from top to bottom, you get the newest tracks ie Freshness scores of 100 and downwards, or how popular the track was when it was added.
Looking at it from side to side, you then see the artist popularity, with the newest artists on the left, and popularity rising across to the right. The size of the bubbles represents the average number of monthly listeners of the artists posted by each playlist – the bigger the bubbles, the bigger the monthlies of the artists they add.
Roll over a few of the blobs. Each blob represents a playlist, and its position is determined by the average Popularity and Freshness of the tracks it adds. If it mostly adds the newest tracks by the newest artists, it’ll be in the top left (eg my own playlist for The Underground Stage).
If it mostly adds more established tracks by more established artists, it’ll be in the bottom right (eg Triple J’s New Music Hitlist). The size of the blob represents the average monthly listeners of the artists it adds – that metric can be a bit fuzzy, but it’s useful context.
Getting practical, here’s an imaginary use case:
- Take a guess at what popularity level the artist is at (or will be at time of release) – if you don’t know it, you can use the Quick Artist Finder below. If you reckon the score will be above 30-40 or so, look at the right-hand side of the map, or look up those lists for established artists. Do basically the opposite if you think the score will be less than 30-40.
- For week of release, your top targets would be in the upper half of the map, and for long-tail or post-release week, it’d be in the bottom half.
- Make a note of the playlists in your quadrants and go hassle them for adds as usual.
- The default date range is set to run from 6 Dec 2021 onwards (ie a longer-term average), but you can change that using the filter if you want more up-to-date data (eg just the last 30 days or something).
- Additionally, if a track makes it onto a playlist that normally deals with more established artists, then you’ll be able to tell just how big a win that is. For example, if the artist has a popularity of 20, but makes it onto a list where the average popularity score is 40, that’s a *massive* score.
So, the map’s pretty useful to compare and contrast, but if that’s a bit slow, there’s also a simpler view using the lists below. Based on the artists and tracks they post, each playlist is classified into one of the four archetypes (corresponding to the four boxes in the grid above). If you click on one of the archetypes (in the small box), the list will adjust to just show you those playlists. In reverse, if you click on just one playlist name, you can see what type of behaviours that playlist tends to focus more on.
Anyway, that’s quite a lot of nerdery. Let me know if you find it useful.
🔎 QUICK ARTIST FINDER
You can use this to look up any artist that has been playlisted (since Dec 6 2021), and what their popularity scores were at time of being added, for both the artist as a whole, and for the track. Either of these scores may be useful in predicting what popularity might look like at time of a new release.
If the artist you’re looking for isn’t in here, then try looking for an artist that you think is a peer at a similar stage.