Very few genres like country music have internal orthodoxy. There are artists who play on (commercial, ground) radio, and there are artists who don’t – and the two will never meet. Until BlueThat’s it. The Spotify Playlist, which launched last year, is built around some of Music Row’s greatest works and the shared roots and common musical instruments of the common country, folk and more prominent worlds of America. It features megastars and country legends as well as promising and upcoming ones, not because of the way they are marketed but because of the rich, organic, story-filled music they create. In this Q&A, Indigo editor Laura Ohles explains how she is breaking country industry rules to present a new, more global perspective on industry-bound music.
Spotify for Artists: When did you start Indigo Playlist and how did you pitch it?
Laura Ols: We have launched Indigo as a playlist brand Back in March . Originally as a Nashville music team, from an editorial point of view, and with our team who manage partnerships with labels and artists in our city, we talked about the lack of advertising about how the country and American music scenes are inherently involved – how there is an artist community and the audience that overlaps. Whether it’s through a tour lineup or piecemeal you get to see that mention Chris Stapleton Next to Margo price.
A Miranda Lambert And a Eric Church Can be next to very easily Jason Isabel And Margo [Price] – They don’t need to be divided, there is an audience that listens to both and they should have a home to do it. That’s why we didn’t just launch an Alt Country playlist and call it “Alt Country”. A listener may have some assumptions about an artist when he or she goes to playlists, and hopefully, by creating a listening experience we are breaking down ideas where there is a strong thread between the song and the artist. Thus, blue was born.
This is usually our approach to creating a new playlist: identifying a community where there is a need for a specific listening experience – where there is a culture that is creating everything on its own and meeting that need, a playlist with a single playlist or slate.
How do you combine trying to deny existing genre terms because the playlist needs to be searchable and readable to people?
It can be complicated. It would be easy to put “Alt Country” in the title of the playlist – from a search perspective, you’ll probably reach a lot more people. It’s hard to say who you’re trying to talk to without labeling it. I point to the success of other playlists on our platform, e.g. Pollen Or Thanks, Which we see as generalless to some extent. With all these lists, the purpose is more about programming space for a specific genre versus a specific audience.
So when we were creating this playlist, we wanted to make sure that the title was more provocative than anything else because we didn’t want it to be boxed as a specific genre again. Is it a country playlist? Is this an American playlist? It doesn’t matter. When we made that decision, we knew we needed to market this playlist in a very specific way – to create a brand that was recognized, that resonated with this audience, and hopefully people were talking, versus something that was easily searchable. . There is a conversation out there that will make people interested.
When you’re listening to a song, how do you decide if it’s right for Indigo?
For me, it all starts with a song, Country or Americana or Blue Grass. The songs highlighted in the playlist often reflect some of the features that we see that we see in the roots of the country genre: there is a certain approach to storytelling. It has got more organic instruments. At the end of the day, the word that comes to mind is truth.
Knowing culturally where fitting an artist is something that I always keep in mind. That being said, most of our process for reviewing songs from week to week is done through our playlist submission tool. As a result, there are times when our artists don’t have the full context, we’re just listening to the song. This allows us to judge a song based on its own merits, while also exploring how the artist fits into the musical environment. That’s where the old school storytelling perspective, the biological instrument, and the truth that I’m looking for.
With that concept of discovery in mind, do you think that your obligation as an editor is not to include only quantitative – successful songs?
One hundred percent. One of the purposes behind this particular playlist was to make sure that these artists have a home for some: they have a huge audience, but there were limited opportunities for the right audience to present them on our platform. The kind of audience that Indigo is listening to is not actually a passive listener, we see it in the data. It’s an audience that frankly values and values the craftsmanship of what these artists are doing.
Also, we’re a global company, and we’re trying to make sure these artists are getting as much visibility as possible – and we’re expanding the reach of country music in general. The country as a whole is a huge priority for Spotify. We see Indigo as an opportunity to reach an audience that might not be identified as a fan of the country, if that is understandable? Not just in the United States, but more globally. It’s a brand in the country that we think will appeal even more to our friends across the pond, such as the UK and the Nordics. We see this as a step towards bringing these artists to a whole new audience.
That said, we’re not trying to rediscover country music in any way – it’s not completely boxed. It’s a place where you can find some new artists as well as some superstars from the country of your choice and even some artists that you don’t necessarily think fit next to each other, and hear that there’s a line between them. All: They are pushing the boundaries of the genre lyrically and goldenly, but at the end of the day, they are also carrying the torch of the past of that genre.
How do you see the relationship between streaming and country – a genre that is still very much tied to terrestrial radio – now? How is streaming going to change Nashville, or how has it already changed?
As streaming in general becomes more popular in the United States and around the world, we hope that these artists are being forced to think about a more diverse audience and, as a result, it may change some of the perspectives that represent the country’s music industry.
We hope that over time the country will become a global genre, with diverse voices and hopefully a diverse audience. A ‘country’ listener may have guessed its date, but we find that it is changing and I want to make sure that it is reflected in our programming at Spotify.
Over time, as the reach of streaming country music expands, its voices and audiences are becoming more diverse. A listener in a country has an idea of what it looks like, and what demo they fall into, but we find that it is changing and I want to make sure it is reflected.