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Artists: Basics about Feature tracks

NADRIP
Opening Act

Ok let's start with some basics.  There's an option to "feature track" (option A); there's also an option to "promote song" which seems just like "feature track" but with he opportunity to attach a message to play with it (option B).

1.  Has Pandora performed any research on how effective option A is compared to option B?

2.  I'm guessing I can't do both, like if I do option A, I can't simultaneously do option B with the same or a different track, and likewise can't do option A then 8 weeks later do option B with the same track.  Really just confirming here, because the language I see everywhere is that I can't "feature track" with the same song more than once but the evil part of my mind really likes to look for loopholes and argues this is "promote song" not "feature track" so just confirming.

3.  I heard advice about featured songs to wait and get some streams from other sources, but what I'm seeing is that Pandora has not played my two radio-approved songs at all outside of radio streams on my artist station and my own direct streams. So it's not like the algorithm is learning anything. So maybe I should use the featured song option as soon as it's eligible? At least then the songs might start getting some play elsewhere? But, the general problem of many things not working the way Pandora's videos and posted advice and monthly meetings suggest things are supposed to work is still happening. And that makes it very hard for me to try to use the tools in AMP - I mean what if I feature a track and it continues to get 0 plays outside of people specifically playing my artist playlist or streaming my songs directly? And then I just lose the ability to feature the track?

4.  I was thinking a good message if I use Promote Song would be "Hi, this is SATAN! Like my song or I'm coming after you! And, yes, children under 13, this message is specifically targeting YOU!"  (please do not respond by linking to your videos/articles about how to make a good message - I'm aware of them - just say "yes" or "begone demon" or some such.)

 

mod edit: changed title for clarity

Labels (2)
10 Replies

NADRIP
Opening Act

Unfortunately, it's now 5 days later and I still haven't gotten feedback on my above questions.  I did, 2 days ago, decide to "feature track" for one of my songs.  I set the campaign to begin yesterday.

As mentioned, going into yesterday, I had only myself as a listener plus 1 stream from a developer who had checked that my radio was working by streaming one of my songs on it and then messaged me that he had done that.  My songs weren't being heard anywhere but on my own artist radio station or me directly playing my own songs.  So, with the first day as a "feature[d] track" I was hoping for some introductions!

Unfortunately, I got a message today in my campaign screen that my song hasn't been played yet.  But, oddly enough, yesterday I did have a 3rd listener who streamed my song I chose for "feature track" though there were no station adds so it appears it was someone listening to my song directly or else on my artist radio station?  Is that maybe the developer in charge of featured tracks listening to the song on the first day before deciding where to target it?  My best guess is this stream must have occurred yesterday just prior to my campaign starting, probably to verify that the song was streaming without any problems.  I also seem to have 1 stream of this song today, but won't get more details of that till tomorrow.

My other song which is radio approved and also on my artist radio station still hasn't been listened to by anyone but me.

And I have 7 other songs which are still waiting for radio approval.

What are other people seeing, especially people without established listeners on Pandora?  According to the things I've read, once songs are radio approved they should be getting streams by the algorithm introducing them to some listeners, then if a "feature track" option is used those streams should increase significantly.  But what I'm seeing is 0 streams form the algorithm before using "feature track" and then 0 streams that were counted as part of my campaign yesterday, and indications of possibly 1 so far today.

I'd appreciate feedback on numbers others have seen so I can know when to worry (I mean, I'm already worried, but I'd like to confirm that's justified).

ppaul3
Underground

I have two artists names. As Paul Adams I do well in the new age genre w/ around 132 million streams. Last year I decided to push the artistic envelope and release music in a very different genre (Americana). I used a different name - PD Adams - so I wouldn't confuse my followers. When I feature as Paul Adams I usually do OK. But, when I feature as PD Adams I get almost nothing. I am assuming then that "Feature" is based on the algorhythm recognizing you and seeing that you have alot of streams behind you. In my experience that is the difference. So I guess the name of the game is "get streamed alot".  It's like the Steve Martin Joke..."how to have a million dolars and never pay taxes ....first ...get a million dollars..."

ChrisPandora
Moderator
Moderator

Hey @NADRIP  – These are some really great questions 😀

You definitely nailed it with the difference between Featured Track and Promote Single. As soon as a track is Featured, it kicks off a period of accelerated testing and evaluation during which your track will receive a boost in spins across numerous stations where it is a good musical fit. Promote Single combines the Featured Track campaign with an Artist Audio Message that allows you to call attention to the song that is either about to play or had just finished. Since many Pandora listeners are leaning back and enjoying their music, it can be helpful to let them know this is a new release and ask for a thumb to help it continue to reach new audiences.

We encourage AMP users to experiment with both tools to see what works best for them since AMP campaigns can differ from artist to artist and song to song.

At this time, AMP users are only allowed 6 Featured Tracks per calendar year and you cannot have any simultaneous Featured Track campaigns. Also, songs can only be featured once. Since Promote Single campaigns utilize Featured Tracks, you are still bound to that limit of 6 per year.

I understand your concerns. We typically suggest waiting a few weeks after your releases go live to give it some time to play on it’s own and find it’s way to other station. During this time, we highly recommend sharing your artist station with your fans and encouraging them to give feedback to your song when it plays on radio. While that is our suggestion, we always encourage AMP users to experiment with their own marketing approaches. It is not a one-size-fits-all kind of situation!

When you do start a Featured Track campaign, please know that it can take some time for it to ramp up. We know it’s tough, but we ask for your patience!

As for your potential Artist Audio Message, we kindly ask that the artist introduces themselves at the beginning of the message, does not include any kind of embedded music and mentions Pandora at some point. Unless Satan is the artist on the track, you will get your AAM rejected so in this instance “begone demon” hahaha.

I hope this helps! Best of luck with your future AMP campaigns!

Chris | Friendly Neighborhood AMP Support

NADRIP
Opening Act

Thanks Chris, I appreciate you diligently addressing each of my questions.  However, I note that I have seen no evidence that my releases, prior to using "feature track," will get many or even any streams on their own by the algorithm, and this seems to be confirmed by ppaul3's comments above, so the supposed benefit of "some time to play on its own" is questionable.  I mean, it's a computer algorithm, so if it was going to give them any spins on their own, that should be happening from day 1.  Rather, the way this can happen, as ppaul3 explained, is if I already have an established audience, then they will hear my new song on my radio station and it can get streams that way.  Alternately, as you mention, if I had a large fanbase on social media I could drive them to my Pandora station and that's really dovetailing into the same thing as already having an established audience.  And, either way, the algorithm can gain insight from those streams.  But as an artist with no established audience, thus no one streaming my station but me, there doesn't seem to be any sense in waiting.  Correct me if I'm wrong - will the algorithm put my new song in front of other listeners on other stations if I don't feature track?  If so, why hasn't it, with either of my radio-approved songs?

When you say, for a feature track campaign, "it can take some time for it to ramp up" can you be more specific?  Assuming that a song is reasonably well liked by its audience, what are some metrics of that "ramp up" period below which would be an indication that things are not working as they should?  Like I had 0 streams on day 1, which indicates the track wasn't being featured.  What number of streams by the end of week 1, week 2, week 3, etc. would be alarmingly low, again assuming the song is reasonably well liked by its audience?

Let me reiterate my thanks for your responding and answering each of my questions!

NADRIP
Opening Act

As another 5 days have passed, I'd like to add another update.  I have now had "feature track" on one of my songs, Coulda Stayed, for 6 days.  I also still have one other Radio-approved song, One Strike You're Out, and my other 7 songs are still waiting radio approval.

I have had 0 featured streams and 0 station adds.

I have had a reported 8 new listeners.  This has resulted in 6 spins of my song "Coulda Stayed".  My song "One Strike You're Out" also had 1 spin.  I can't tell you what the 8th listener listened to - possibly one of my songs that isn't yet approved for radio play?

How can I tell the difference between a spin which results from someone listening to my artist station and a spin which results from the algorithm?  I had thought in order to play this song on other stations the algorithm would have to add this song to those stations, but I'm not seeing that?

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CatleaMusic
Local Performer

That's my experience too. 

Congrats for your success as Paul Adams. That's impressive. It doesn't seem like Pandora's marketing  programs and algorithms are designed to support or promote new artists. It's hard for an artist to gain a following without decent promotional tools—and even harder for Pandora to be competitive with such a slight offering. 

 

NADRIP
Opening Act

I want to thank others for sharing their experiences as that helps to confirm what would be expected.  Sadly, the news is not good for new artists who don't have large existing fanbases.  Both ppaul3 (Paul Adams) and CatleaMusic have reported that neither Pandora's algorithms nor promotional tools seem to do much to help new artists.

The featured track product particularly is set up to benefit established artists much more than new artists, as I've come to learn more about it.  Pandora explains that if a person has a large number of existing streams, the featured track product will attempt to give a proportionately large number of bonus spins, but if one has very few spins, the featured track product may give almost no benefit.  Thus the product does not put songs out in an equitable way and evaluate listener response in an equitable way in order to give all artists similar chances of success.  Rather, this product is about the rich getting richer and the poor staying poor.  Ultimately, the benefit a new song gets from using featured track is heavily influenced by streams that artist already has, not by any fair competition for new songs to reach new audiences.

I'm now 13 days (roughly 2 weeks) into my featured track campaign.  My features song, "Coulda Stayed," has yet to receive a single featured stream.  I also tried adding an artist message to play before the song, 7 days ago on Oct 31, and this has yet to play.

On the other hand, "Coulda Stayed" has 11 algorithmic streams, though none of these are featured streams.  Comparatively, my song "One Strike You're Out" which went live on radio the same day as "Coulda Stayed" on the same station, has only 1 algorithmic stream.  This makes me wonder if being a "featured track" can also increase the odds of a song receiving algorithmic streams which are not featured streams?

In my earlier message, I wondered about details of spins and information about that is available by clicking on a song in the catalog screen.

NADRIP
Opening Act

I wanted to give an update of my experience with featured track.  First, I'm a new artist to streaming.  And I started with no established audience.  I had written some songs between 2021-2023 so around mid-2023, I added 9 songs basically as a group onto steaming sites.  I've also had a new release on Nov 24, 2023, for 10 songs total.

About half my songs have done pretty well on Spotify, despite minimal advertising/promotion on my end.  I have 2 songs that at this point (roughly my first streams on Spotify from anyone that wasn't me was Aug 2023 - so after just over 5 months) have 10,000 steams each, another closing in on 7,000 streams, my new release from Nov 24 has over 2,000 streams in a bit more than a month now, and I have a couple more songs closing in on 1,000 streams.

The most successful of these songs with the Spotify algorithm has been "Coulda Stayed" which is one of my two songs currently with over 10,000 streams in 5 months and over 8,000 of those streams are from Spotify radio.  So, when presented to the right audience, this song gets extremely positive reactions from listeners, which the Spotify algorithm recognizes, thus it plays it so much on Spotify Radio.

I used "Coulda Stayed" as my test song for the Pandora Feature Track.  The tool which is supposed to break regular radio spins from feature track spins is broken so all I can give you is total radio spins.  In 8 weeks on Feature Track this song had 166 Radio Spins on Pandora.  (Comparatively, I'm averaging over 3,000 Spotify Radio spins with this song over a similar period),  There were also 10 Pandora Interactive plays of this song so total streams on Pandora during that 8-week period were 176.

Week 1: 1-2-1-1-0-1-2 = 8 spins

Week 2:  4-0-2-0-2-1-3 = 12 spins

Week 3:  2-2-3-0-4-3-3 = 17 spins

Week 4:  7-7-16-11-5-11-4 = 61 spins

Week 5:  4-3-5-5-7-3-7 = 34 spins

Week 6:  1-3-6-5-1-2-5 = 23 spins

week 7:  6-1-2-1-1-0-1 = 12 spins

week 8:  1-1-1-3-1-0-2 = 9 spins

Total spins = 176 - 10 Interactive Plays = 166 max Feature Spin benefit.

After the Feature Spin period, the song is getting 0 plays.

 

I guess I can see an attempt to introduce the song to some listeners but, if we can believe that Spotify's algorithm is accurately recording the positive reactions of listeners thus triggering this song to play more on Spotify, it appears the Pandora algorithm is doing a really bad job of finding the listeners who would likely be interested in this song.  Essentially, it completely failed to do that, so after the Feature period the Pandora algorithm isn't playing the song at all because it doesn't know what audience to play it to.

What I have seen is that my new release on Nov 24, which was my first song eligible for Fresh Cuts (because Pandora took over 3 months getting my initial 9 songs up) is getting a benefit from that playlist (from Fresh Cuts) that is much more like what I would have hoped to have gotten from Feature Track.  My new release, "Better at Goodbye," has a bit over 2,200 streams on Spotify at this point, but only 29 streams so far from Spotify algorithms (11 from Release Radar, 18 from Spotify Radio).  Comparatively, "Better at Goodbye" has 418 streams on Pandora, 312 from Pandora Radio and 106 from Pandora Interactive streams.  (I have no idea why it has so many Pandora Interactive streams because very few of those are mine, but maybe people hear it on Fresh Cuts or other Pandora Radio stations and want to stream it again, because it's actually being played for the right audience.)

Overall, as a new artist on Pandora, I still of course will try to take advantage of Feature Track for my songs to get whatever limited benefit it can offer, but it's not connecting my songs to the right audience, at least not with the example of "Coulda Stayed."  Whereas "Fresh Cuts" is a much more powerful tool for new artists and seems to do a much better job of introducing songs to relevant audiences.

ChrisPandora
Moderator
Moderator

Hey @NADRIP - Thanks for following up. I can definitely understand where you're coming from.

We hope the additional tools available to you on AMP will help your music on Pandora, but we do not guarantee a certain outcome from using them. As you may know, we don't discuss specific details regarding artists' data, so I'm unfortunately unable to provide further info.

If you'd like to submit a different track to be featured:

  1. Go to https://amp.pandora.com and sign in with your account.
  2. From there, click on the Marketing tab on the right side and select Submit a Featured Track. 
  3. On the next page, begin typing the name of the track you wish to feature. Press return to choose the track and then click Submit to send your request to Pandora.

Please allow up to 7 days for Pandora to process your request and begin featuring your additional submitted track.

Moving forward, you may want to experiment with the other tools available to you on AMP, such as AMPcast or Artist Audio Messaging. You can also encourage listeners to stream your content on Pandora via social media to generate more listener feedback. If Pandora listeners Thumb your music, it can help your campaign's performance.

Testing various approaches may help you narrow down what will work best for your music on Pandora.

Thanks again for using Pandora AMP!

Chris | Friendly Neighborhood AMP Support
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shellycoolsingr
Underground
Thank you for the comparisons -. I appreciate this. If only others can
sound an alarm on all the major platforms to do a comparison we can make
better decisions or they can fix the system.