Jess Finesse Talks Perks for Playlist Curators Following Spotify’s African Entry

Following Spotify’s announced expansion into 180 markets––including Nigeria––on the 22nd of February 2021, music lovers and industry players have been agog with predictions about what this entry holds. After all, very recently the industry has seen Spotify’s major contenders, Apple Music, YouTube Music and Audiomack increase operations in the Nigerian market.

These entries and their accompanying campaigns have helped boost the burgeoning sounds of Nigerian music globally and Spotify’s expansion will typically, do likewise. It holds additional promise with its seamless playlisting features which will encourage much adoption from independent playlisters.

We had a brief chat with lifestyle influencer and playlist curator, Jess “Finesse” Chibueze to examine how playlisters and artistes can take advantage of these features.

How do you feel on a whole about Spotify buying into the Nigerian music scene and what do you think it means for the local playlisting culture/community?

I remember when I first created my playlist called ’The Flexlist” in March 2019. I could only curate the playlist on Apple Music since Spotify wasn’t available in Nigeria. I didn’t mind it at first: I was getting thousands of clicks on the playlist and was receiving positive feedback from listeners who owned Apple Music accounts in Nigeria, the U.S, and the U.K. It wasn’t until I started receiving requests to put The Flexlist on Spotify from people living abroad that the limitations of not having a Spotify account began to weigh on me. There were so many populations of people who Nigerian playlist curators, myself included, could not reach because we didn’t have easy access to Spotify. 

The day I finally put the Flexlist on Spotify in July 2019, it was Ayo Alfonso who made it happen. From that time to now, maintaining a Spotify account at $9.99/month (N5,000) for a playlist I wasn’t monetizing while living in Nigeria was tedious and annoying. Spotify now being available in Nigeria has cut down my operational expenses and overall stress. Platforms like WeTalkSound and The49thSt who already curate playlists on Apple Music only have to budget an extra N900/month to maintain a Spotify account. Nigerian-based independent curators who make playlists for either business or leisure now have the potential for their music curation skills to reach Spotify’s 345 million users. That spells out growth, scalability, and opportunity for many of us.

Lastly, Spotify launching in Nigeria allows for curators to curate on a platform that provides us with metrics. There have been times I’ve applied to be a part of playlist communities and I was rejected because I didn’t have a Spotify account OR The Flexlist didn’t have enough followers on the platform. These platforms didn’t care that I could account for thousands of clicks on Apple Music because Apple Music does not publicly show playlist follower counts. Now that Spotify is in Nigeria, I can grow The Flexlist’s numbers and build up the credibility needed to apply for playlist opportunities. Nigerian curators being able to show they have 1,000 followers or 500 likes on their Spotify playlists allows them to justify the influence and authority to be perceived as a respected music curator.

How can Nigerian artistes take advantage of the newfound pathway that playlisting on Spotify grants?

By pitching high-quality music. I know this answer is vague, but it’s true. 
If you have a limited budget to produce a song, really care about the mixing and mastering of your song. If there’s one critique I have of artistes who submit music to me is poor mixing and mastering. There are aspects beyond the hook being catchy and choosing the right melody for a song that makes curators reject submissions. With Spotify now being available in Nigeria, it should be a challenge to artistes to really care about every aspect of their song. Like every aspect.

I don’t know how the backend of the pitching to Spotify works, but I can imagine if I was hired as an editorial curator on the platform, I would have a no-tolerance policy for lacklustre music. So make music enjoyable and easy for the consumer to listen to. Make memorable songs. Have a plan to get your song featured on really cool platforms in conjunction with pitching your music to Spotify. And don’t forget to pray and hope for the best.

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