While many artists use Spotify as a tool to get them working through the day, there is a wealth of evidence suggesting artists can utilize the music-sharing app as a valuable art marketing tool.
The human nervous system has five specific senses: sight, hearing, taste, smell and touch. Branches of art including dance, music, communications and theatre rely on many aspects of the human senses to be understood. Dance uses the sight and hearing. Music uses sight and hearing. Communications, including literature and film, uses sight and hearing. Theatre uses sight, hearing and depending on interactivity, touch, taste and smell. Visual art uses sight and its marketing is handicapped by this predominance.
Think about how many times you heard music today. It’s in the background of advertisements we are bombarded with and in places we run errands like the grocery store, bank and gas station. According to the World Journal of Psychiatry, it’s a proven fact that music can alter your emotions and behavior, so it’s no wonder it’s a such a powerful marketing tool. If companies like Walgreens and Publix can use low- tempo music to sell their products, there’s no reason artists can’t use music to bolster their brands online.
In March 2017, Spotify, the largest music streaming platform, announced it had reached 50 million subscribers. And according to the Spotify Impact Study, streamers are twice as likely as non-streamers to feel emotionally connected to brands meaning they are more likely to engage with and relate to brands overall. When you combine an engaged audience of that size with the emotionally charged power of music, you have a world of potential consumers to tap into and capture.
But how do you integrate Spotify as a powerful art marketing tool? One major and easily accessible opportunity lies in Spotify’s playlist curation tool.
1. Sign Up For Spotify
To sign up for Spotify and use it as an art marketing tool, just head to Spotify.com and create an account. The services let you choose between a free and paid subscription. With the free service, you can listen and share with caps. A paid subscription allows you unlimited listening and no ads, with additional benefits. Once you’ve signed up, you can connect other social media profiles like Twitter and Facebook. One of the best ways to use Spotify as an art marketing tool is by creating playlists. You can share and promote playlists on other social media profiles.
2. Create Spotify Playlists
Because Spotify playlists are so accessible, flexible, shareable, they are excellent art marketing tools. There are limitless ways to curate music to market your art. You can create playlists based on seasons, mood or artwork. Music will allow you to share a deeper context of your art and creative environment.
Seasonally Based Playlists
Beyond music that inspires you during winter, spring, summer, and fall, you can also mark tentpole events and cultural moments like Valentine’s Day or Janet Jackson Appreciation Day with curated and relevant music. Just last month, former first lady Michelle Obama curated a playlist for President Obama titled Forever Mine for Valentine’s Day. From Andra Day to Etta James and Leon Bridges to Barry White, Mrs. Obama curated a medley of R&B, soul, funk, and disco to proclaim her love to the world. Refinery29, a female-oriented digital media website, and entertainment company, currently has 160 playlists on Spotify providing music for holiday cocktail parties, Fourth of July events, road trips and music festivals. Sharing music with your fans through streaming is a wonderful way to establish year-long emotional connections and amplify your art marketing strategy. Alternatively, you could create artworks inspired by each of your or another’s seasonal playlists and market them as one collective project on Spotify.
When we’re feeling down, there’s nothing better than ugly crying while listening to our favorite sad song. According to research, sad music can bring us pleasure, comfort and pain. The alternative is true as well. Upbeat music can improve our moods. The intense personal connection between songs and humans goes back to the dark ages, but now more than ever, we can connect through shared music experiences using platforms like Spotify. Creating and sharing mood-based playlists allows others to feel with you and see your brand or art through a very specific human lens. Anthropologie bolsters their lifestyle brand appeal by creating public mood-based playlists such as Fireside Winter Warmers, Rainy Day Reverie and Sweet Sunny Days. As an artist using Spotify, you can jump into shared experiences by curating a few playlists of your favorite songs tied to specific mood sets you are comfortable making public. These playlists could also inform a new emotional series of works that you, in turn, can cross promote.
Artwork Related Playlists
Moving away from seasonal or emotion-driven playlists, there’s an entire world to explore through artwork or subject-matter inspired playlists when developing an art marketing strategy that uses Spotify to drive home a message. You can curate a selection of songs that you listened to while creating a work of art. Or you could curate a playlist of songs inspired or speaking to a particular subject area or time frame that your work is either commenting on or referencing. For example, the Brooklyn Museum uses Spotify to create collections of songs touching on specific art movements and moments in time. A good example of this is their Afrofuturism playlist, which pays tribute to musicians of the movement. Consider making playlists of songs inspiring your current work or the subject area to which it responds.
3. Share Playlists Online
Once you have a playlist made, you can share the playlist through the Spotify application. If you’re on the mobile app, you should see three little dots in the upper right-hand corner of your playlist. If you’re using the desktop application, the three little dots appear to the right of the playlist’s green play button. Click on the little three dots. You should then see a drop-down menu with options to edit (remove a song or rearrange song order), rename your playlist, make it public or share. When you share the playlist on Facebook, a graphic of the first four song’s record art shows up. You can also copy the playlist link and use the URL in Instagram posts, blog posts or press. Playlists are easy to share and allow others to enter your world.
Who can possibly forget the megawatt star-powered Pace Gallery music meets visual art event between Jay-Z and Marina Abramovic in July of 2013 in support of Jay-Z’s Magna Carta Holy Grail album. Select groups of tastemakers were brought into the gallery as Jay-Z performed his track Picasso Baby for eight hours in an Abramovic-inspired format. Regardless of the fallout between Abramovic and Hov later on, the event was the talk of the town. The electrifying connection between art and music is undeniable.
Marketing art can often feel like a painful task compared to, and especially after, the hard work of creative expression, but it is important. A brief calculated attempt at art marketing vs. a longer range plan with poor execution will always perform better. If you do not have the time to create and share many playlists, at least consider making one or two that speak strongly to you as an artist or toward a specific piece of work. In that scenario, you can reuse the playlist at specific marketing or press moments. Believe it or not, offering an additional piece of content for an outlet or interested party could push them over the edge. Be your own advocate, use your time wisely and commit to small steps that will make the biggest impact.
What’s on your Spotify playlist? How do you use Spotify for art marketing?
Rachel Wells is a writer based in Nashville, TN. In addition to her writing, she has a professional background in content development, digital distribution and public relations. Her projects and clients have been featured in the The New York Times, Fast Company, Cosmopolitan, New York Magazine and Pitchfork.