6
May
2019

Playlist stuffing and SEO. Gaming the system.

It’s well documented that a popular tactic to generate more streams and therefore more revenue in the streaming age is for artists to release albums with as many tracks on as possible. The rights holder gets paid from streaming platforms as soon as someone listens to 30 seconds of a song and therefore we get artists like Chris Brown releasing 45 song albums like his 2017 album “Heartbreak On A Full Moon” which was certified Gold in less than 10 days even though none of the songs from it made it to the top 40. Clearly this “strategy” works, if you can call stuffing an album with scores of low quality songs a strategy but hey that’s where we are now.

So when I saw this advert in my Instagram post for a “Sleep & Mindfulness Thunderstorms” playlist from Sony Music UK I was intrigued.

When I clicked through I was taken to a Filtr playlist (Sony’s playlist brand) in Apple Music that promises to help me relax and fall asleep to the sounds of pouring rain and thunder. OK then.

P.S. Notice how the playlist artwork says “Sleep & Mindfulness Thunderstorms” which although is nonsense, it reads logically, kind of. But the actual title of the playlist is called “Thunderstorms Sleep & Relax Tracks” which makes even less sense but is playlist SEO at work given that these are all keywords that Sony thinks people will be searching for in Apple Music.

But here’s the best bit, the playlist is made up of 330 tracks, all just over a minute long. Yes 330 tracks. Each track is as you would expect is just ambient noise of rain and a few thunder storms thrown in for good measure. This is the strategy I mentioned in my opening paragraph taken to the extreme.

By using a playlist as the “format” and not an album the guys at Sony can really go to town and add in 330 tracks without anyone blinking an eye, after all there are no rules or constraints for playlists so any number of songs goes. Then making sure each track is just over a minute long, thereby qualifying for the 30 second is also calculated to extract the most revenue possible from the playlist.

Finally, marketing the playlist as something to fall asleep to is also genius. The hope is that you play this playlist to help you fall asleep and when you do the playlist of course continues to play in the background while you’re asleep racking up streams and therefore revenue. Kerching.

One final note, the artist credited to all 330 tracks on this playlist is called “Sleepy John” and the songs all link to an artist profile in Apple Music for a rock quartet formed in 1969 from Lewiston Idaho. Either the meta data is messed up or this 1960’s rock band have done a serious pivot.

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