Interview of the Week – Padmanabhan NS, Head of Artist and Label Partnerships, Spotify

One of the fastest growing music streaming markets in the world is India. The Indian market is not only price conscious but also with users of different cultural nuances and preferences. The growth of the non-film music segment, along with the arrival of international streaming platforms, has also provided independent artists a range of opportunities.

But most of the regional as well as independent music industry still remain technologically challenged and the artists lack guidance. This makes it imperative for music streaming platforms to educate and aid these artists to develop a fan base, expand their content’s reach and utilise the platform’s tools to grow their career.

One of the world’s leading music streaming platforms, Spotify, has been actively helping the artists through their Spotify For Artists community. It provides artists and their team the tools to build a following, ingest a song via label or aggregator, and manage their finances on the platform.

In our Interview of the Week, we speak to Padmanabhan NS, Head of Artist and Label Partnerships, Spotify who has been actively conducting masterclasses to help artists explore opportunities for local and global discovery through the Spotify For Artists community.

Why should an artist associate with Spotify when there are plenty of options available?

Spotify has always been focused on the creator community, and artists are a huge part of that. Since our launch in India (and in line with Spotify’s global mission), we have been committed to identifying and nurturing the thriving artist community in India – whether from the film industry, or outside of it. Our initiatives cater to the growth of emerging artists, and include artist masterclasses, increased discoverability of their music, and the RADAR India program that will soon complete one year in the market. Spotify is a non-exclusive platform for music and our endeavour is to promote all artists and tracks with equal commitment.

Several artists who have generally been associated with the film industry have released non-film music more frequently in the past year; still others found newer avenues to engage with audiences, going beyond on-ground events. For instance, we collaborated with Diljit Dosanjh for his recent album – G.O.A.T., and hosted a Listening Party on Twitter in July last year, resulting in millions of streams from India as well as the US, UK, Canada, and Australia. In fact, G.O.A.T was the only non-film, Indian album to feature in Spotify India’s Wrapped last year. We had a similar collaboration with DIVINE for his album – Punya Paap, and he saw a huge spike in streams as well.

I believe that artists, especially independent ones, will continue to invest in digital marketing. It is perhaps the most effective way of communicating with listeners and fans through targeted outreach. We’ll also see more artists and labels making more non-film music that will increase their discoverability on platforms such as Spotify.

What exactly are the Spotify For Artists masterclasses aimed at?

Until recently, there was no real way for artists to access any data or insights that could help them identify their audience, markets, music performance, discoverability, and more. With Spotify’s Artist Masterclasses, we help artists understand how they can make the most of the Spotify For Artists (S4A) platform, and leverage it to create and share their music with India and the world. We also enable the artist community to understand the importance of timely submission of music, growing consumption of their music etc. There are so many ways in which artists can use what Spotify offers, and make the platform work for them. Today, we have over 10,000 artists from India who have already claimed their S4A profile.

How is Spotify For Artists providing opportunities to artists to be discovered locally and globally?

Discoverability is critical for artists as it helps them win new listeners and fans. Our democratic approach to playlisting and curation for both mainstream and independent music ensures we are offering artists a level playing field that is centered around enhancing the user’s listening experience. So from a curation perspective, we have playlists that feature independent artists such as Osho Jain alongside mainstream artists such as A.R. Rahman. This approach has helped independent artists see a multi-fold increase in their followers on the platform over the period of Spotify’s existence in India. In fact, we have also helped several Indian artists, including Antariksh, Prateek Kuhad, Dhruv, Taba Chake, Armaan Malik, and GV Prakash, among others, be placed in international playlists.

How is RADAR different from other playlists?

RADAR is more than just a playlist. It’s a key global initiative where Spotify supports artists who have strong potential from the very beginning of their journey. The program is designed to build the discovery and reach of emerging artists, and artists such as Mali, When Chai Met Toast, Hanita Bhambri, The Revisit Project, Taba Chake, and more have already experienced success from the initiative. In India, we are focusing on one artist per month. In addition to featuring on the cover of the RADAR India playlist, the artists get social media support, in-app banners, access to playlists in other markets etc. Data shows that listeners for a few artists grew by upto 4x within a short span of time, especially for those who were just starting out. Monthly listeners for all RADAR India artists doubled after they were featured as a part of the initiative. This goes to show the promise that RADAR both as a program and playlist holds for up and coming artists in India and elsewhere.

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