One of the biggest problems facing the music industry today is the volume of music released. With 100,000 new tracks being uploaded to streaming services daily, there’s never been more competition to get heard.
And today’s reality is that new music uploaded to streaming services is likely to be listened to (and categorised) by an AI before a human hears it.
This should come as no surprise. AI-generated tagging data makes sense of the vast quantity of music available now. And it’s not just used by streaming services. Musiio by SoundCloud’s tagging solution is used behind the scenes by sync agencies, record label A&Rs, streaming service curators and more to find great new music more quickly.
With this tech being so widely used, artists should understand how their music is being tagged, so they can focus their energy more effectively on their music and marketing or branding efforts.
But how exactly can artists practically apply these data insights? We have five suggestions.
1) Know your niche
The first way you can maximise your chance of getting playlisted alongside your favourite artists is to understand them, and how they’re being categorised on streaming platforms.
This process is straightforward.
- Make a list of your favourite artists in your genre
- Tag their top-performing tracks for free using our Tag Demo (tag.musiio.com)
- Tag your own tracks using the same tool
- List out those tags that correlate and anti-correlate with the artists you love
Now you have a musical roadmap. You can see in hard data what success in your genre sounds like. For example, if tracks by your target artists trigger a lot of Energetic and Dancy moods – and your music doesn’t – this is a new piece of data you can integrate into your creative process.
2) Think like a curator
You can again use the free Musiio by SoundCloud Tag Demo, but tag tracks in a playlist you would like to get onto. You don’t need to tag all tracks, but even tagging a few can give you a better understanding of what these playlist curators are looking for.
Here’s an example of a high-energy Latin music playlist that we recently tagged.
You can see that Latin and Reggaeton are the most popular genres, Dancy, Warm and Playful are the most common moods, and track energies are medium and high.
When we consider track tempos, we also see some interesting trends. Most tracks fall into the 90-99 BPM and 120-129 BPM ranges.
However, don’t just look at the moods, genres, BPMs and energy levels that are popular among those tracks. Equally important are those that are absent.
For example, if you’re making music with BPMs outside of the range that's common within your chosen playlist (under 80 or over 150, in this example), it’s possible your music is being filtered out by AI before a human curator ever hears it.
You can use this data to inform creative decisions and tweak your music to stand a better chance of landing on a specific playlist.
3) Get an impartial view on how to market your music
If you’re not sure how to describe your music for marketing purposes, AI tagging can help. Listening AIs are trained using thousands of tracks that exemplify each category. To understand hip hop, for example, Musiio’s music team had to teach the AI what hip hop sounds like – in all its incarnations.
Because of this rigorous training, the AI has an impartial understanding of your music.
Try tagging your music and see what moods and genres it returns. The process can quickly give you a handle on how others will hear your music. And that data can help you with marketing copy and shaping your brand as an artist.
You might, for example, think that your folk-tinged pop belongs on a folk playlist, but the AI might categorise your music as pure pop. In this case, try following the data. Pitch your music to pop playlists rather than folk.
4) Find suitable collaborators
Now that you’ve tagged your music, look more closely at your mood and genre tags. Are these the tags you had imagined your music would be categorised with?
If not, you can start searching for other artists with similar sounds or moods. One way is to tag more music by other artists, or you could simply type the mood and genre tags into Google and see what music comes back.
Once you find other artists with a similar sound, you could reach out to them. Comment on their work, DM them, and offer to share their tracks. You could even ask if they want to collaborate.
The aim is to broaden your audience by sharing listeners.
5) Try a different sound
If your music isn’t making the splash you’d hoped for, and you’ve been doing all the right things, it could be time to cast your musical net a little wider.
Perhaps you make niche or esoteric music. In that case, identify a style that has either:
- a bigger addressable market
- greater sync potential
Conversely, you might make music in a popular genre and not be finding success. The solution may be to try a sub-genre with less competition. You can do this by finding playlists and sub-genres with fewer plays, then perform a musical analysis of tracks in this style using the free Tag Demo.
And if you’re worried that a new sound will confuse your existing listeners, don’t be afraid to work under another alias. Many musicians and producers have done this extremely successfully.
Producer Oliver Heldens found massive success as a pioneer of future house music but decided to follow his passion by making bass music under the name HI-LO. Technical DnB producer Spor, meanwhile, was huge in his niche but went looking (and found) even greater notoriety making chart-friendly, vocal-led dubstep as Feed Me. The list is endless.
The key to this approach is to ensure you’re still making music in a genre you can authentically create. Don’t lose the love of creating for the sake of listens.
To learn more about how you can use AI tagging to get further in your career and how AI tools are powering the music industry, follow Musiio by SoundCloud on LinkedIn and Twitter. If you’d like to tag music at scale, drop us a message via the contact form or email firstname.lastname@example.org.