Ruth B’s Streaming Success: Anatomy Of A Developing Artist [Glenn Peoples]
How was up-and-coming artist Ruth Berhe able to amass 115 million spins on Pandora before her debut album was even released? In this look at DIY done right, we follow Ruth B from her origins on Vine through to considerable success on Pandora.
Guest Post by Glenn Peoples on Medium
· Developing artist Ruth B’s track “Lost Boy” gained momentum at Pandora three months and 9.3 million spins before radio picked up the track. In the weeks after its peak, Pandora spins have dropped far less than its radio audience.
· Pandora’s Featured Track added momentum and additional spins to the track’s organic growth.
Ruth B (full name Ruth Berhe) started her career posting clips of her singing on the social media platform Vine. Last July, her Vine audience was exploding, adding upwards of 90,000 new followers in a single week. Her Twitter account blew up in August. A year later, the 21-year-old, Canadian singer-songwriter has 2.2 million Vine followers, 1.1 million Twitter followersand 115 million spins at Pandora — without a full-length album.
Sixteen months after self-releasing her song “Lost Boy,” Ruth B has amassed 115 million spins at Pandora. It’s a strong number considering Columbia Records has released only a four-song EP, “The Intro,” and hasn’t started a more aggressive push associated with a full-length release. Her spin count exceeds most artists who also made Pandora’s “Artists to Watch in 2016” list in spite of having just one single.
How did it happen so early? Her self-released single sold well enough — 10,000 in its first week and 42,000 in its first eight weeks — to attract a record deal with Columbia Records in July. “Lost Boy” picked up momentum online and continued its rise with airplay on AM/FM radio. And since popular songs are popular, radio airplay led to more success online.
Pandora added “Lost Boy” in September. Before press, radio or touring, Ruth B’s manager at Red Light Management, Marc Offenbach, chose to make “Lost Boy” a Featured Track to help launch the single. A Featured Track is a product in Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform that will temporarily gives a song heightened spins for up to eight weeks. It’s often used to help the roll-out of a new release or launch a new marketing program.
In Ruth B’s case, Featured Track gave the song a push that added to its organic growth. Those additional spins resulted in more thumbs, and those additional thumbs put “Lost Boys” in front of more listeners. At the end of its run, the Featured Track program accounted for 45.8 percent of all spins during its eight-week run and “single-handily began to affect incredible growth” of the song elsewhere in the digital space, according to Offenbach.
Artists often first get traction online and “Lost Boy” was no different. The track had 9.3 million Pandora spins by the time broadcast radio started playing the song three months later. And even though Pandora has just 10.3 percent of the radio market, Pandora spins exceeded radio audience until the 8th week “Lost Boy” was at radio. But with its larger audience, broadcast radio audience surged past 20 million weekly audience in April. In May, the “unadorned piano ballad” was deemed by Billboard to be “the most unusual song on the [Billboard] Hot 100” chart. It peaked at #24 and has now been on the Hot 100 for 22 weeks.
Now “Lost Boy” is following a track’s natural life cycle: it builds slowly, gains traction and grows fast, comes to a peak, and carries over to an inevitable decline. The story diverges from there. Radio audience peaked two weeks ago and has since fallen 37.5 percent. When radio stations stop playing a track, their listeners stop hearing it. At Pandora, “Lost Boy” has dropped just 16.2 percent in the seven weeks following its peak. As long as “Lost Boy” continues to get thumbs, listeners will continue to hear it. That’s why some songs have long lives online after broadcast radio has moved on, the artist stops touring and purchases dwindle.