Have you run a pre-save campaign in the past? Over 70% of artists we asked have run a pre-save campaign at one point over the past 5 years.
So, what exactly is a pre-save? Think of it as the streaming equivalent of a pre-order. Just like pre-orders allow fans to secure their copy of an album before it hits the shelves, a pre-save enables them to ensure they have access to a new release as soon as it becomes available on their preferred streaming service. It's a way for fans to express their anticipation and commitment to an artist's music, even in the digital realm.
Sounds great on paper right? However, when we take a closer look at the effectiveness of pre-save campaigns, it becomes clear that there is a lack of hard evidence to support their impact, especially for early-stage artists with smaller followings.
Let's start by debunking a common misconception surrounding pre-save campaigns. Contrary to popular belief, these campaigns are not native to Streaming Services. This means that Streaming Services (like Spotify and Apple) do not have a direct relationship with these campaigns or the data they collect. Spotify and other DSPs (Digital Service Providers) do not have access to the information gathered by the apps that allow you to run these pre-save campaigns. This means that the success or failure of a pre-save campaign has little bearing on whether your music will be considered for editorial playlists or other promotional opportunities within DSPs. *(One exclusion being Apple Music Instant Gratification campaigns, which involve giving a free song off of a larger album – which we suggest using if you are going to be doing a larger release.)
Artists who believe that a successful pre-save campaign will automatically lead to a surge in listenership are often left disillusioned. While there is a chance that a pre-save campaign could help nudge fans to stream it on release day, it is not a reliable or guaranteed outcome (as DSPs have no idea how many pre-saves your song has). Let’s dive into a couple of anonymous data points for artists from an artist we work with.
A recent single by a Latin-Pop artist in March 2023 shows the following data:
# of Pre-Saves: 67
# of streams by followers on release day: 202
# of total streams on release day: 955
# of saves on release day: 207
# of total followers this artist has: 2,848
From this data we can extract a few key learnings:
- Getting 67 people to pre-save your song is a considerable undertaking. It is an “ask” from a fan, with no reward for the fan (i.e. they can’t listen to the song yet), and very low impact for the artist. In the case above, assuming all pre-savers streamed on release day (which in reality a much smaller amount did), it only accounts for 7% of release day streams.
- If we then look at how many followers streamed the track in comparison, it is a 3x better conversion rate at 21%.
- Furthermore, 207 people saved the track on release day. As this number aligns with the number of followers who streamed, we can assume that many followers saved the track as well. What we learn from this is that you're more likely to get engaged fans by asking them to follow your profile rather than pre-saving a specific release.
- Based on this data, we can conclude that there is no direct correlation between the number of pre-saves and the resulting number of streams or saves on release day.
So, if pre-save campaigns might not be as effective as we once thought, what should artists focus their time, energy, and "ask" of their fans on instead? The answer lies in fostering longer-term engagements and building a strong community of dedicated followers. Rather than simply asking fans to pre-save their music, artists can encourage fans to take actions that have a more substantial and lasting impact. For example, asking fans to follow their profile, stream older releases, follow playlists curated by the artist, purchase merchandise or concert tickets, or engage with their social media content can all contribute to building a loyal fan base and creating meaningful connections.
Furthermore, increasing the save rate on your releases, will be taken into consideration by DSP’s editorial and algorithmic playlists, as it signals to them that the right people are finding the song, and are actually liking it! For more tips on how to do this, check out this blog.
By shifting the focus from pre-save campaigns to these longer-term engagements, artists can cultivate a dedicated following that is more likely to support their music beyond just the release day. These actions not only have a more tangible impact on an artist's career but also provide opportunities for artists to gather valuable data and insights about their audience.