Before you ask, yes, that’s Christopher Columbus, who set sail across the Atlantic on a voyage to discover some fresh jams.
I previously wrote that using Spotify Discovery Mode was a no-brainer. I’ve heard it compared to standing up at the theater. Sure, the first person to stand gets a better view, but before you know it everyone is standing. No one is any better off than before, just less comfortable.
Of course, that was the plan all along. Spotify now pays out 30% less on Radio, Autoplay, and Daily Mix tracks from Discovery Mode participants. We’re less comfortable than before, yet we continue to opt in because ultimately we just want our music to be heard.
Spotify advertises Discovery Mode as a way to highlight important releases. The implication is that for maximum exposure, you should limit the number of tracks you opt in.
But is that true? What’s the optimal Discovery Mode strategy? That’s the question I hope to answer today.
It depends on whether Discovery Mode operates at the artist level or track level.
In other words, when a slot is available, does it say “give me some Color Theory”? If so, I’d rather it choose my catchiest song.
On the other hand, if Discovery Mode says “give me this track” then we might as well opt in all of them!
The ultimate test would be to only opt in a single track for a month and compare it to the total number of Discovery Mode streams from the previous month. I’m not willing to do that.
Instead, let’s look at the data I already have and see if streams go up as the number of tracks opted in goes down.
My song “Anyone Would” has done pretty well in Discovery Mode from the beginning:
Just looking at August versus November, the stream count is nearly the same despite opting in twice as many songs in August.
Here’s another decent performer, “The Limit”:
Looking at August versus November again, opting in twice as many songs got me more streams, not less.
That said, I kinda sorta think I spot a trend towards more streams per song as the number of songs opted in decreases. Which is exactly what I’d expect to see!
In November when I opted in 20 songs, those were my 20 best eligible songs. You’d expect them to perform better than the next 20 songs, right?
To put it another way, my 1st choice is more likely to resonate with listeners than my 40th choice.
Ipso facto, fewer songs = better songs.
Based on these two examples, I’m inclined to think that Discovery Mode operates at the track level.
I’m going back to including all eligible songs, except perhaps the ones it recommends against:
If you’re still not convinced, here’s the clincher: my total Discovery Mode streams.
It looks like the more songs you opt in, the more streams you get.
The effect is large enough that, for me at least, streams per song is irrelevant. I want as many streams as I can get, so I’m going to opt in as many songs as I can!
As an aside, I thought my total streams kept declining as more artists were getting access to Discovery Mode, but that doesn’t explain the surge in December.
Perhaps a better explanation is that the pool of new releases is larger in September and October, which is prime album release season. Those album tracks become eligible for Discovery Mode after 30 days, which explains the high demand in November. And then December is the slowest month of the year, so there are more slots available.
Then again, those November tracks are most likely still eligible in December. Perhaps there’s another explanation. Your guess is as good as mine!
I’ve already got 6K Discovery Mode streams in January with more than a week left to go, so December doesn’t appear to be an outlier.
Are you using Spotify Discovery Mode? Have a different take on my data? Share your thoughts in the comments!