In November of 2019, Upturn Network set out to revolutionize the streaming landscape and bring in the “next generation of music promotion”. How? Curating playlists, not just internally but with the help of micro-influencers all across the globe, to promote small and new artists who they take under their wing. Currently, the business has expanded to include other services like audio production and is also aiming to cater to English artists soon, with a predominantly Latin-American focus occupying most of the capacity of the business. Ultimately, the company is on a constant journey to figure out a way to promote its artists. That’s where Spotify’s micro-influencers come in to play.
Social media influencers are online personalities with a massive audience on their platform, may it be Instagram, Twitter, YouTube, or something else. Considering the influence that these people hold over their fans, many brands and companies use them for promotion. Eli Rossman, founder of Upturn and current student, saw a massive gap. “I was thinking to myself, ‘Where are Spotify’s influencers? Do they exist? What can we do to bridge the divide?’, and that’s when it really hit me.” By engaging users with public playlists that had accrued prominent followings, Upturn has been able to share the incredible exposure these lists have with unsigned artists.
How Influencers Help Musicians Build Fanbases
It cannot be denied that influencers and influencer marketing are now a force to be reckoned with. More and more businesses are starting to turn to them to increase their exposure to new audiences. Upturn Network takes that strategy and runs with it. “We are nothing without our curators,” Rossman explained, “They’re a foundational piece of the company. Being able to build a connection that’s not bound by transactions, that’s what sets us apart. The people we create and curator with are genuinely passionate about what they do, not contractors.”
They tap in to active audiences
Unlike a traditional influencer mention on a social media account, which often comes off as “artificial and see-through” per Rossman, Spotify influencers can provide new content to their audiences with an expectation that they’ll be willing and open to receiving it. “What we see is an ad audience that’s more or less the most receptive anywhere,” Rossman boasted, “These are people who actively seek out new content. All we’re doing is making sure we can serve them in the most mutually beneficial way possible.”
They hold a powerful level of influence with their audience
Companies get influencers to promote their products or services because their audiences trust their opinions and they can even influence their actions. Even then, it can be hard to rely on a follower to go through the motions of spending money or making a purchase on the basis of a single post. This is where Spotify’s micro-influencers wield their influence: no purchase is necessary. These change-makers simply switch in and out the tracks on their playlists, and their users instantly buy in through listening.
The results can be seen instantly. “We have some incredible connections such that I’ll have artists text me within minutes to tell me their active listening has gone up.” For Eli, the correspondence he gets to pass along to curators is one of the greatest parts of the job. “There’s real joy in the conversations I get to have,” he shared, “Knowing that you could be the reason an artist connects with their next superfan or even a label, it’s really powerful stuff.”
Upturn Network’s use of micro-influencers to bring about audiences is powerful, but that alone may not always be enough to build a fanbase. The key to unlocking its highest potential is the engagement of those influencer audiences. Upturn aims to be a “one-stop promotion shop”, but “there’s only so much we can do”, Eli went on to say. This process helps artists build an audience on their way to living their dream and hopes that they can take the momentum and run with it.
Photography by: Eli Rossman