Each year Spotify launches their own Christmas playlists section in Browse. This year it’s called Season’s Greetings and has 23 playlists in it of which 19 are Spotify curated and 4 are curated by record labels. The record label playlists are as follows:
Christmas Time – Topsify (Warner Music) 176,594 followers
Winter Warmers – Filtr (Sony) 6,018 followers
Winter Wonderland – Record Club (Universal Music) 972 followers
Too Cool For Yule (PIAS) 2,961 followers
What’s interesting here is that Universal didn’t choose to include (each label can nominate one playlist for inclusion) their hugely popular Christmas playlist with 338k followers. Instead they chose a much newer playlist from their sub playlist brand that I had forgotten ever existed, Record Club.
Also, Sony didn’t include their even bigger Christmas playlist Christmas Songs with 745k followers. Instead they submitted a new playlist with relatively low follower numbers.
Looking at the branding of all the playlists you will notice they all follow similar design guidelines and perhaps more importantly they all have unique playlist names and themes. So my best guess is that Spotify had some strict naming guidelines that probably stated that a playlist name couldn’t be similar to an existing Spotify playlist. This will also explain why Topsify’s 100 Greatest Christmas Songs Ever (created by yours truly) was changed to simply Christmas Time.
Since both Universal’s and Sony’s big Christmas playlists have been around for years and have big follower numbers I think that both majors decided not to include these in Browse as they would have to rebrand and instead chose to retain creative control and market them independently. So instead of changing their name and branding to comply with Spotify’s Christmas genre guidelines they decided to opt out so they could keep their identity.
Was this a wasted opportunity or should they have rebranded/renamed to be included in Browse?
Well looking at the follower numbers for Sony and Universal’s stand ins, Winter Warmers and Winter Wonderland I think they made the right choice. Winter Wonderland has only 972 followers so it clearly didn’t benefit from being in Browse. Similarly Winter Warmers only managed 6k followers. The fact that the label playlists are buried at the bottom of the browse category wouldn’t help either. Lesson learned for Christmas 2018 I guess.
UPDATE: For everyone who commented on social media that follow counts don’t equate to consumption, yes that is right to a certain degree. However given that follower counts are the only public indicator that Spotify has of playlist popularity I use them as a very general measure of a playlists reach. And while it’s true that high follower counts can contain dormant listeners it’s rarer for a playlist with a low follower count to have really massive consumption. A playlist’s age and capacity to appear in search results are other important factors that play into popularity. I could go on but that’s a post for another day.