It’s no secret that streaming has changed the cadence at which artists release music. Even Spotify’s CEO Daniel Ek has been quoted as saying:

“The artists today that are making it realise that it’s about creating a continuous engagement with their fans. It is about putting the work in, about the storytelling around the album, and about keeping a continuous dialogue with your fans.”

As a result, many artists have caught onto this new release speed, and are releasing more singles than ever. New release strategies have risen to maximize this approach, like the Waterfall method, which involves successive release of several singles in order to get more visibility on streaming platforms. The idea is to avoid long periods without releasing music and capture the attention of listeners. 

Artists who release many singles consecutively and have limited resources may run into a specific problem — one we are always asked about: when do you stop promoting one release and start promoting others?

In a perfect world you can continually promote every release, but if you aren’t lucky enough to pour endless cash into your promos, you hit a critical point in campaigns when it comes time to pivot, or double down on songs – so how do you make this decision? 

Establish your baseline

Artists doing DIY marketing need to be data-driven and analytical in order to not be wasteful of precious marketing budget, but it’s hard to measure what's good or bad, if you don’t know what “good” is. This is why we suggest knowing the baseline of your single performance. But how do you do that? 

  1. Release a single, without promo. This is the best way to learn what you are working with. Put the single out with no paid promotion for at least 14 days, and gauge the stats like streams, saves, and follower lift across your profiles – make sure to take notes of these stats! 
  2. Set a standardized budget. Have a realistic budget in mind that is high enough to make an impact, but low enough to allocate to every release. Songtools users, for example, reported an average budget of $350 per release based on a survey.
  3. Activate the budget. It can be with the first single after 14 days, or another song all-together. Use SongTools to run playlisting and ad campaigns to grow the release, and you’ll be able to compare the uplift from your no-promo single, to your promo single. 

Between step 1 and 3, you now have two very important benchmarks: what a no-promo release looks like in terms of general reception, and what a standard promo budget can do for you. These baselines will help guide your future efforts. For example, if certain songs out-perform these baselines, you have a “winner” on your hands that you can then continually promote, and double-down with more budget. If not, it’s more likely a song that doesn’t deserve further investment. 

Set your KPI’s (Key Performance Indicators) and monitor these closely

Here are some suggested KPIs to track on each of your releases:
  • Overall song streams
  • Song Save rate: You can view these in the “Music” tab of your Spotify for Artists account. 
  • Total artist profile followers: Publicly on your profile. 
SongTools Specific: 
  • Song Engagement Index: When you are running a Playlister.Club promotion, we give you very interesting metrics that are relevant to this topic. Song Engagement Index, which is found on the right hand side of your playlisting dashboard, essentially tells you if curators stay and interact with your song after listening to it (or skip to the next one): 
If it’s negative (under the platform average): this means that curators are not positively receiving the song (i.e. don’t continue promoting it after a month). If it’s positive, you have a winner! 

  • Branding Engagement Index: Another very interesting measure to understand if your album cover is being clicked on in the playlister feed. It essentially measures the click through rate of your album cover, which leads directly to listens of the song. \

If this is below the platform average: we suggest continually promoting it. This just means it needs more time to be found – and if paired with a strong SEI (like the screenshot above), that’s a double whammy– keep promoting!

If it’s positive: That’s a good sign as well! Keep going as long as the SEI is positive as well. 

It’s also important to note that with both of the SongTools performance metrics, we suggest waiting 1 full month before gauging the results. 

Between the DSPs and SongTools KPIs, you should be armed to the teeth with data to make the comparison between your current releases’ performance and the two baselines we established above. 

What if I have a winner?

So you’ve followed the steps above and realized that a song you have is way out-performing the baselines you set. Congrats! It’s time to double-down and start scaling up. Activate all of the resources you have behind this song, and at this point we suggest launching a fan-building ad campaign (via SongFly) to pour further fuel on the fire. You can visit our other blogs like our Funnel Building approach, to gain more insights on how to capitalize on winning songs. 

One noteworthy statistic to consider is the 80/20 rule, which suggests that approximately 80% of an artist's revenue comes from 20% of their releases. This statistic underscores the importance of identifying the standout releases that have the potential to drive significant results. By focusing on these high-performing releases and allocating resources accordingly, you can maximize your chances of success.

All in all, the decision to playlist or pivot requires a strategic and data-driven approach, and by combining data insights with creativity and a deep understanding of your audience, you can navigate the complex landscape of playlisting and promotions, ultimately achieving sustainable success in the streaming era!

Artists & Labels

More from 

Artists & Labels


View All