Playlisting and Digital Strategies for Artists With Songular’s Sam Lee

How Music Charts talks with Sam Lee, Founder and Director of London-based firm Songular. We discuss playlisting and digital strategies for growing your streaming audience, why TikTok may not be for every artist, and how music data may be important, but it's always better if #ArtistsBeArtists.

Playlisting and Digital Strategies for Artists With Songular’s Sam Lee
Jason Joven
Jason Joven
April 19, 20213 min read
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On this episode, we talk to the Founder and Director of London-based firm Songular, Sam Lee. According to Songular’s website: “Songular is an independent music company that empowers fearless artists through strategic streaming campaigns. Our approach is artist-first and data-driven: This means that our bespoke campaigns are shaped by the stories our artists have to tell, and we use data to link the strategy to the story. We think big but act small, because today’s change-makers demand a service as dynamic and self-starting as they are."

Songular's About page

Songular’s roster includes Joji, Bakar, Young T & Bugsey, Zara Larsson, and Flume.

Lee has served as a Music Editor for Deezer, a Radio Plugger, and in his earliest days, a Broadcast Assistant for the BBC and regular contributor to British culture outlet, NME.

Brewing Cups of Tea for the BBC

As a young man growing up in Swindon, UK (west of London), Lee was creating his career beginnings writing for British culture outlet NME and working in radio promotion. One of his first gigs was with the BBC as a Broadcast Assistant at the BBC Wiltshire Introducing show (that showcased emerging artists):

Big shout out to the BBC ... who let me come in and kind of fumble around with some cables and make cups of tea for a little while and pretend I knew what I was doing, because I think it was that that then really set me on the path from there.... [I] picked up some pretty important transferable skills, like having to find an angle to push things and have to keep on top of relationships with people and all these things that have served me quite well since then.

The Role TikTok & Gaming Play in Streaming Growth

As a streaming growth specialist, part of Songular's value is knowing the interplay between platforms in a world where a lot of artists can get tunnel-visioned into only one of them:

TikTok for me is a really important one because it's one of the really clear bridges between platforms.... If a track goes viral on TikTok, there's a million playlists on Spotify that have TikTok viral hits ... so you'll start seeing things build up on Spotify and then off the back of that you can push to take it outside of that world.

While TikTok is still the focus of most marketers today, gaming has always had a strong association with music through syncs and live-streaming:

And same thing goes for gaming, you know you can have a track featured in a game or you can have something that goes into a montage somewhere and suddenly you're on a million gaming playlists on Spotify and you can then take that ... start feeding that into editors ... start feeding that into the wider story.... You've got something to take off platform again.... Streaming provides a really valuable backbone to all of that, because you've got somewhere to keep bringing people back to where they're able to engage with the artist.

Why #ArtistsBeArtists Is Songular's motto

What seems to be really special about Lee's company is their hashtag motto, #ArtistsBeArtists. While Lee stands behind the importance of data in Songular's business process, he also knows the larger importance of having a real creative voice to generate that data in the first place:

It's important to us because we operate in a space where there's a lot of talk about ... algorithms, about the code, and the systems that underpin all of these platforms ... but ultimately all of that means nothing at all without an artist who knows what they have to say, and knows how to say it, and has a story to tell and is good at telling that story. So the idea behind the #ArtistsBeArtists hashtag is through Songular we can take care of the stuff that we really don't want an artist who's working with us to be concerned about, which is monitoring the data.... We want them to be worrying about being an artist, doing what they do best: creating art and music and connecting with their audience.

You can connect with Sam via LinkedIn or Songular's Instagram.

Listen to Playlisting and Digital Strategies for Artists With Songular’s Sam Lee on your favorite podcast listening platform here.