Upturn Network Uses Spotify’s ‘Social Media’: Harnessing Playlists

Written in partnership with Ascend

Photo Credit: Eli Rossman

When was the last time you took a look at who followed you on Spotify? For a leading streaming platform, there are more songs than anyone could ever possibly listen to. But have you considered who might be taking their musical cues from you, or who you might be taking yours from? It goes without saying that Spotify houses rare and impressive talents that are yet to be discovered. Finding those gems and letting their music be heard by providing those cues is exactly what Upturn Network does.

Seeing the influence that user-created playlists have over listeners, the company decided to concentrate its efforts, building foundational relationships with some of the unsung heroes of musical discovery. It started with scouting for leading playlists in the platform and introducing the underrated yet striking artists to the users who curated them. As time went by, the business gradually expanded and now it includes not only music promotion but even production.

“It’s a labor of love,” says Eli Rossman, founder of Upturn and current Junior at the University of Michigan. “We know that even one playlist can be the difference between making it and fading into obscurity. If we don’t actively push to bridge the gap between the signed artists of today and the unsigned superstars of tomorrow, we’re going to continue to see the music industry suffering from inequality.”

How Playlist Platforming Helps Undiscovered Artists

It is safe to say that the success of many small artists that work with Upturn can be attributed to playlists. Without a doubt, the union between the power of the individual listener and playlist creator and the content of the unknown artist has revolutionized both the creation and development of careers and fandom.

Playlists introduce people to new songs

There is no more affordable yet effective way to introduce listeners to new songs than by sharing them with others directly on the platform. In that vein, one of the best methods to increase people’s chances of discovering small artists is by adding their works to playlists. “We really aim for a cascading effect,” boasted Rossman, “One playlist is great, but the best lists help artists discover people who are fans more than listeners.”

Playlist exposure boosts popularity

For many artists, getting added to a playlist with a significant number of listeners can be a turning point in their careers. Although some have only experienced a short-term increase in their popularity, an unfortunate and admitted flaw of the model that Eli revisited often, those with songs that can capture the attention of listeners have reaped long-term success.

While it all eventually comes down to the artists and their talent, Upturn Network gives creators the opportunity to get the exposure they deserve. Those who work with the business typically don’t use any traditional outside promotion. Nonetheless, they have still observed a surge in their popularity through the curated playlists. Rossman went on to explain that some of his favorite campaigns were those that “ran wild completely on (their) playlists,” pointing to the in-house project ‘The Rossman Ensemble’ that peaked on charts in multiple countries during Christmas.

Playlists bring in fans, not just listeners

After getting discovered and increasingly gaining popularity comes the development of a fanbase. Upturn Network guides small artists from the start and finish, with the intention of bringing in real supporters. “As much as we love to look at streams, we want to see that someone new bought a tour ticket, that someone new is sharing your posts, that someone new is buying a band tee,” Rossman said. “We understand how tough this pandemic has been, especially on touring acts, and we want to do our best to bridge the financial gap and help get artists to the same if not a better place than before.”

Nowadays, most Spotify users spend the majority of their time on the platform listening to playlists, which is why getting added in one can lock in exposure and even fame. With the right curation guidance, one that Eli Rossman has mastered, the results can amplify ten-fold.

The outcome of Upturn Network’s commitment to its purpose of helping underrated artists is indeed an astonishing feat. In the near future, the business aims to not limit its services to Spanish curators and artists alone. Its recent focus on homegrown projects like ‘Issana’ and ‘The Rossman Ensemble’ show signs of Upturn becoming a multi-faceted powerhouse. “We’ll see what’s in store,” Rossman chuckled, “I don’t want to jinx it, but I think we could be talking again soon about some more exciting things if it all falls into place.”