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What is the Spotify Algorithm & How it Works [2022]

By Emily Sullivan

If you’re researching avenues for your digital marketing, music and podcast streaming services, like Spotify, may be of interest to you. Spotify offers two models: Free and Premium. Free comes with lower sound quality, advertisements, and requires an internet connection. On the other hand, Premium users can listen to high-quality recordings, all ad-free, and download songs for offline listening.

Before diving into the Spotify algorithm, It’s important to understand how their user base interacts with the platform’s content. As of the first quarter of 2022, Spotify had 182 million premium subscribers worldwide, up from 158 million in the corresponding quarter of 2021.

North American MUAs of Spotify spend the most time on the platform, averaging 140 minutes per day. Additionally, the platform also trends younger: 55% of their users are between the ages of 18 – 34. With an active user base higher than Apple Music, YouTube Music, and Amazon Music, Spotify is clearly the most used music streaming platform to date. 

By partnering with them for marketing, your organization can gain access to the Spotify algorithm and their robust customer data. 

In this post, we’ll take a look at how Spotify’s algorithm works in 2022, and offer some insight to advertisers for how to best leverage the platform for the best return on investment. 

What Does Spotify’s Algorithm Determine? 

Except for their saved music, Spotify’s algorithm affects almost everything a user sees when they use the application. With the help of its robust algorithm (detailed below) Spotify acts like a recommendation engine, suggesting content based on media users have already listened to, or saved for later listening. This is the core function of the Spotify recommendation engine, and that foundation determines what suggested content – podcasts, music, other audio content – a user will see when they open the app. 

In addition to providing users with suggestions based on their habits in-stream, Spotify also offers algorithmic playlists, like Discover Weekly or Release Radar. The Discover Weekly algorithm presents users with a curated playlist of music based on the user’s listening history. The Release Radar algorithm, however, delivers new releases from artists they follow or listen to. 

What Factors Does the Spotify Algorithm Analyze?

Powered by AI, Spotify’s algorithm analyzes three main features when determining to recommend content: lyrical content and language, song features, and past listening habits. Additionally, songs are affected by users’ interaction with songs, such as whether or not they have listened past the first thirty seconds or skipped, as well as inclusions in other playlists. 

Source: Spotify

Altogether, these factors are included in Spotify’s recommendation engine as they present new content to users. Simply put, Spotify’s algorithm delivers suggestions based on behavior or characteristics that have been tracked by the system. Even the Spotify Research Team states that “Users are overwhelmed by the choice of what to watch, buy, read, and listen to online”. On Spotify, these algorithms help to navigate and facilitate the decision-making process for users of their platform. 

By relying on machine learning, AI, and other technological advancements, the Spotify algorithm offers a pleasing, sophisticated method for determining their users’ taste in music. 

How to Make the Spotify Algorithm Work for You

Tip 1: Are You an Artist? Make a Detailed Profile

As you create your profile for Spotify, make sure you make it as detailed as possible. You’ll need to include all your social links, write a bio, post upcoming shows, and even add merchandise.

This Spotify algorithm hack will help you stand out among the other acts out there, and let Spotify know that you’re actively participating in their platform.  

Tip 2: Leverage the Power of Pre-Saves

If you’re releasing music, the first 24 hours are the most important! Pre-saving can give your tracks or Spotify content added visibility in the long-term. On Spotify, pre-saving is the ability to download or add content to a library before the debut.

When people pre-save your content, the algorithm notices this and could give you an added boost. Pre-saves can snowball into playlist additions and turn further into organic recommendations! 

Tip 3: Use Spotify’s Promo Tools 

Artists can utilize Spotify’s Ad Studio to create Spotify Ads and manage Spotify video or audio campaigns. These ads can be leveraged to promote upcoming releases with custom ads that Spotify Free users will hear between songs.

The ad platform is familiar to any users with some digital advertising experience, and simple enough to learn. Just submit a script, pick your music, and upload an image. Spotify will produce the entire ad, with a voiceover.

Spotify ads are generally 30 seconds long (or less), and feature a clickable image displayed during the ad. And you can customize your target audience, budget, make edits and view ad reports.

Looking to Advertise on Spotify?

Advertising on Spotify can provide many opportunities to reach your target audience. In fact, Spotify Ads is the largest digital audio advertising platform — providing marketers and brands close contact with millions of ad-supported listeners. Even more, Spotify’s new “Ads Studio” enables anyone to create and upload ads to Spotify in just minutes, making the technology accessible for anyone looking to experiment with the platform or run an entire campaign. 

“With millions of ad-supported listeners world-wide and robust targeting capabilities, it is a fantastic way to get in front of a desired audience. Its continued user growth and investment in its ad units, capabilities, and overall product make it one to watch.”

– Josh Brisco, VP of Growth Media at Tinuiti

Spotify Ads are split into three distinct categories: video, audio, and podcast ads. Built on the behaviors of their users, Spotify ads have the ability to be hyper-targeted by leveraging first-party data. In addition, user demographics like age, gender, location can be identified, alongside other platform-specific demographics like device use, listening behaviors, and interests. Moreover, their metrics for tracking data allow for deep analysis of your return on ad spend. 

When first working with Spotify ads, there can be quite a learning curve when it comes to custom targeting and reviewing the efficacy of your campaigns. But you don’t have to go at it alone! 

“By working with Tinuiti, your brand’s Spotify ads are in the hands of specialists who are familiar with audio campaign set up, optimization, and success. Our programmatic team is in the platform daily, making real-time bidding adjustments to campaigns that boost performance while maintaining efficiency. This performance visibility allows us to understand how audio stacks up against your other tactics in a user’s path to conversion. Our programmatic experience and hands-on approach is what sets us apart.”

– Carly Fipps, Programmatic Senior Specialist at Tinuiti

If you’re looking for help on your next Spotify Ads campaign, contact us for more information. 

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