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The Only Number that Matters on Spotify

Author: Andre Mullen

I use to think Spotify listeners were more important than any metric – even Spotify followers.

I realized this was a mistake in the midst of planning benchmarks for an album release for an up-and-coming artist. I initially thought if we saw an increase in monthly listeners, it was a good indicator of how well the release performed. This would ultimately result in more followers.

However, this didn’t answer a burning question I had.

How many listeners actually follow an artist on Spotify?

Enter the listener-to-follower ratio. This calculation answered the riddle.

Spotify’s listener-to-follower ratio reveals a lot about audience engagement

Like many artists and artist managers, I wanted to know more about the mechanics of Spotify. 

I noticed there were some artists who have millions of streams on Spotify, but only have a couple of hundred followers. 

My client had been on Spotify editorial playlists and we have seen her monthly listeners grow considerably. 

However, her follower count didn’t grow as much as her listeners.

We initially used the metrics given to us by Spotify for Artists as a means of determining the success of a campaign. 

With the release of this new project, we wanted to get more granular about the analytics – to really have a clear picture of how the project performed on the Spotify platform before pouring any marketing dollars there.

Anything you can’t measure, you can’t assess.

Anything you can’t assess, you can’t determine success.

So, knowing this ratio was crucial to both our marketing mix and bottom line.

How to calculate the listener-to-follower ratio

I knew there wasn’t an explicit metric within Spotify for Artists showing the ratio for my client.

So I needed to calculate it.

I took my client’s Spotify followers and divided the number by her monthly listeners.

Spotify followers / Spotify monthly listeners = Listener-to-follower ratio

A listener-to-follower ratio of 1 means my client’s listeners are all converting to followers. If it’s less than 1, it means not all of them are actively following my client on Spotify. If it’s more than one, my client’s follower count (a.k.a. fans) is larger than the number of monthly listeners.

Let’s do a quick case study in order to give clarity on the topic:

LaRussell: 38,577 followers / 337,359 monthly listeners = .11

Limoblaze: 80,141 followers / 610,984 monthly listeners = .13

DJ Khaled: 9,511,684 followers / 25,721,111 monthly listeners = .36

Eminem: 68,740,458 followers / 66,697,594 monthly listeners = 1.0

The listener-to-follower ratio in context

So here is what these numbers actually mean.

The number is the percentage of people who listen to an artist’s music who are also following. 

So, if we look at hip-hop artist LaRussell’s .11 listener-to-followers ratio, it means a little more than 10% of people who listen to his music are also following him.

Nigerian artist Limoblaze has 13% of people who listen to his music following him.

DJ Khaled’s percentage is even higher with 36% of people listening also following.

However, in the case of Eminem, we see his number is 1.

This means 100% of the people listening are also following him.

In other words, everyone listening to Eminem also follows him on Spotify.  

The listener-to-follower ratio defined

A healthy ratio is usually somewhere between 0.1 and 1. We can determine a few things from this ratio:

  1. Artists with a listener-to-follower ratio less than 0.1 are most often pushed into prominent editorial playlists. Their monthly listeners increase based on those placements, but their growth in followers doesn’t correspond.
  2. More followers than listeners = organic reach but less engagement with new music
  3. More listeners than followers = more plays/streams via playlists but less organic reach

 

So while artists may get a lot of streams – and corresponding royalties – it doesn’t necessarily reflect their true fanbase.

Here’s the play…

Most musicians want their music to be on editorial playlists. Their thought: “If my track is on ___ playlist, the higher the chances for my career to take off.”

The better your client’s listener-to-follower ratio is, the more likely your client – and you – are able to determine your actual fanbase on Spotify.

Your client’s profile needs to be optimized for people to discover their music via a playlist or recommendation.  

Make sure you do these 6 things:

  1. claim their artist profile
  2. upload a banner image consistent with their brand
  3. upload a profile picture – headshot – consistent with their brand
  4. create/update their bio
  5. upload 2-4 hi-res pictures to their gallery
  6. add links to socials 

 

Spotify (and all DSPs) are discovery platforms. They are the top part of the Artist Creator Funnel that I spoke about in my weekly newsletter, The Paradigm Shift

Use your client’s music on Spotify to lead people to their socials to a newsletter, SMS text, and/or other community links to collect data. 

Do you want to build an audience and fanbase for your client?

Know the numbers.

Work the numbers.

Numbers don’t lie.

Whenever you’re ready, here are two ways I can help you:

1. I’m offering a Growth Strategy Session. Let’s put together a growth strategy for your and/or your client’s business for FREE.

2. I’m also conducting a FREE Systems Audit to see what systems you are using and optimize them.

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