‘It’s about time we rethink promotion.’

Robin Hammouti, VP, Head of Marketing & Partnerships and Nicolas Rabaud, CEO at music promotion platform, Listn

One of the most remarkable stats about the modern music business to hit our pages in the past few months was the number of tracks getting uploaded to streaming services every day.

With around 100,000 uploads ingested to the likes of Spotify and other services daily, it’s evidently becoming harder and harder for artists to get their music heard in the modern music business.

Further evidence driving this point home arrived last week, in the form of the news that, according to Luminate data, 67.1 million tracks on music streaming services in 2022 attracted 10 or fewer streams each, globally.

Increasing the visibility of an artist amongst industry gatekeepers like radio hosts, bloggers, playlist editors and DJs in the hopes of getting their music heard can often be achieved via effective promotion.

Promotion can help artists reach new fans, explains music promotion expert Robin Hammouti, VP, Head of Marketing & Partnerships at music promotion platform, Listn, but he argues that it can be a “confusing and blurry business” that can sometimes “be disappointing (and expensive)” for independent creators and rightsholders.

“The million-dollar question,” asks Hammouti, is “how do you actually, as an independent creator, pitch to the right [curator], in the right territory, with the right song?”

Hammouti claims to have developed a solution to that problem, in the form of his new France-based music promotion company Listn, which is described as a “bespoke 360 Promo service including Press, Blog, Radio, Streaming Promotion and DJ Servicing all in one click”.

The platform was launched by Hammouti and business partner, mentor and Listn CEO, Nicolas Rabaud, who is also CEO at prominent France-based music PR, plugging and promotions agency Comtazic.

Listn uses what its founders describe as a “matchmaking algorithm” to connect up-and-coming creators with “high-profile” editors and curators.

Via Listn’s platform, artists can set up a promo campaign around an individual track and submit a bio, press kit and other info to tastemakers.

Using its proprietary AI-powered tech, dubbed “Hearincore”, the company claims that its platform can then connect those artists with its network of curators who it says “are the most compatible and most likely to share and play your music”.

Hammouti explains that Listn offers an alternative option to traditional PR agencies for independent artists on a budget.

“PR Agencies’ added value lies in their deeper understanding, experience and network in the industry working with a handful of carefully picked clients, willing to consider a four-figure budget,” explains Hammouti. “That’s why they’re often not considered a viable option for up-and-coming creators.”

Listn’s fees for its services are based on a credit system, with credits priced at €1 each and the cost for individual song campaign submissions varying in cost from two to 20 Listn credits.

The company claims to have hit the 3,000-user milestone during its Beta testing stage, which, says Hammouti, “is pretty mind-blowing as we have done no outbound Marketing or Promotion operations ourselves in our Beta phase”.

Hammouti points to US-based duo MAZAA & Yami and their song Twister as a promising case study to have emerged from the Beta.

“They scored both a superb Magnetic Magazine review and an EDM.com article, on top of that, multiple Spotify playlist support came along to also build up their monthly listeners,” says Hammouti.

“Even though it is exactly what we built the platform for, it’s always a big moment for us to witness awesome results on any creator campaign through Listn,” he adds.

Looking to the future, Hammouti says that the new company “is focused on building Listn as a brand,” and “as the advocate for independent music in traditional, online and social media”.

“Creators in Control is our motto,” he says. “As fast as we can turn the tide and make that a fact, our greatest ambition will be fulfilled.”

Here, Robin Hammouti, VP, Head of Marketing & Partnerships at music promotion platform Listn, tells us how the new platform works, and addresses challenges in the promotion space…

Tell us about Listn’s origins… why was the platform launched, and who was it founded by?

Listn actually crossed over from an idea to a business plan during a two-hour-long conversation with my business partner, mentor and CEO of Listn, Nicolas Rabaud.

We’ve lived and breathed independent music together for the last 10 years, and the inconvenient truth is that even with all the fast learners around us, promotion is a confusing and blurry business that can be disappointing (and expensive) for independent creators and rights holders.

Stubborn by nature, we decided to surround ourselves with PR professionals and launched our own PR Agency, achieving greater results and breaking country codes. We are now three years past that conversation and a beautiful team of 17 working in our company group.

What are the biggest challenges in the music promotion space?

Well, music and its creators both evolve in an international market, yet for some reason promotion doesn’t. Traditionally, an artist had to go through building their career in their own territory before even thinking about export[ing their music].

Thankfully, history has [proved] otherwise thanks to streaming and social media. Success stories built from YouTube, TikTok or major Spotify Playlists are common nowadays and have led to creators finding new fans and career opportunities all around the world.

It’s about time we rethink promotion, based on market trends and indicators (facts) rather than artist origins and environment.

Also, MBW confirmed this back in October, there are now 100,000 tracks being uploaded to DSPs every day. Let’s all take a minute and process this in our minds.

I believe technology has addressed many complexities of the music creation process in a beautiful way: It’s never been easier for artists to compose, write, produce, publish and of course share their works. Yet even with the effort from (certain) DSPs opening the gates, top-tier editorial playlists are still fueled by major catalogs for a very good reason. There just aren’t that many editors and curators out there. So the million-dollar question is: How do you actually, as an independent creator, pitch to the right one, in the right territory, with the right song?

How is Listn aiming to solve some of these challenges?

Listn was built to work as the creator’s vision goggles, narrowing down the best possible advocates for their music, filtered by genre affinity, territory and engagement.

In a sense, the greatest argument of a DSP is not hosting roughly 80 million songs but managing to handle and recommend such repertoire under significant categories, or individually per each user’s affinity score. So, [we] reverse engineer[ed] that [and ] thought: ‘Here’s our process’: matchmaking up-and-coming creators with high-profile editors and curators in the open sea of music released daily.

What differentiates Listn from other players in the market?

Quality over quantity. We make sure each player in the curation game can bring sensible value to a creator’s career path. Results that are likely to open doors and opportunities for their catalog.

Comfortably speaking about our longer-term product roadmap, Listn ought to become creators’ one-stop solution to overview their global online, streaming, radio and social performance as artists. I personally think there are more than enough marketplaces these days. As we are treating promotion as an investment: good investment comes from an informed decision.

Does Listn see itself as a rival to traditional PR agencies?

Do Native Instruments see themselves as rivals to Nile Rodgers?

Again, Listn is held and funded by the same great people from Comtazic PR so these are two different services if you ask me. PR Agencies’ added value lies in their deeper understanding, experience and network in the industry working with a handful of carefully picked clients, willing to consider a four-figure budget. That’s why they’re often not considered a viable option for up-and-coming creators.

What the amazing team at Listn is trying to achieve is the perfect tool and solution for efficient and affordable music promotion with our DNA. In our day and age, like any online solution, it’s also open for PR Agencies to use.

Listn is described as “a music promotion platform created with cutting-edge technology that connects you with high quality and impactful influencers, playlists, radios stations and blogs from around the world”.  Tell us about the technology that underpins the platform, i.e how long it took to develop, what it works etc?

Behind every campaign on Listn is our matchmaking algorithm [called] ‘Hearincore’ built to increase the creators’ campaign success probability with the obligation of a budget.

Constantly learning from on-going campaigns on Listn, Hearincore has its own learning curve for the benefit of all Listn users. In the earliest foundations of the platform, it has been in the works since 2021 and still is, as we speak, collaborating with a partner research institute.

Listn connects artists with influencers, playlisters, radio stations etc. – How are these curators selected and what kind of curators are you ideally looking to work with?

Again, creating opportunities for creators is at the deeper core of our value proposition.

We analyze and work on available metrics such as Influencers’ social engagement/following ratio, as well as a ridiculously high amount of Spotify Data thanks to our own formula to work out an accurate Streaming indicator for Playlist Curators on Listn. I’m also very pleased to announce a global partnership with world-class Radio Syndication actor Syndicast enabling Listn Creators to personalize and scale their Radio Plugging campaigns Internationally. This is unprecedented and we’re darn proud of it.

More is to come on that  I cannot disclose more yet, as all our focus and effort is on cutting innovative partnerships deals for game-changing opportunities in favor of creators.

Can any artist submit their music to Listn, or is it based on a selection process?

Yes, we care that any creator can, over time, climb up the ‘artist career ladder’ based on our campaign recommendations. On that basis, I don’t think we should only teach the popular kids in class.

Everyone with talent has to have a chance to be heard, or at least decide to do so.

Can you talk us through the pricing structure?

For the ease of multiple currencies on an international market, Listn works with its own credits called Listns. Each curator provides one or more -services i.e. channels if you will, such as a blog post, Spotify playlist, radio support, DJ support… etc and reviews the creator’s song pitched to said service(s) through Listn Campaigns.

Each service is priced between two and 20 Listns credits based on our in-depth analysis of the engagement and effect on the creator’s career [driven by] the editorial opportunity they are [being] offered by the curator behind their review. Should the song not be reviewed by the Curator(s) within 14 days after it was submitted by the creator, the latter will be re-credited

How does Listn generate revenue ?

At this stage, Listn retains a percentage on all Campaigns sent through the platform. We try to make it as convenient and transparent to all past, current and future Listn users.

The beta version of Listn has been tested by a pool of over 2000 artists and you’ve worked with 500 curators so far. Tell us about the feedback you’ve had from the service so far?

We’ve actually hit the 3,000 user milestone now, which if you consider it, is pretty mind-blowing as we have done no outbound marketing or promotion operations ourselves in our Beta phase.

We translate this into the urge for independent artists to find new cost-effective and efficient ways to get their music [heard].

As we have been polishing the front-end design for our Commercial launch this week, the last six months were dedicated to set and run multiple user stories on the Creator and Curator side, making sure we are as bug-free as digitally possible.

Thanks to our beautiful engaged community we were able to recover ideas for future features and have reshaped our user experience several times already.

What are your ambitions for Listn over the coming 12 months and how does Listn want to be positioned in the music promotions space in the future?

2023 ought to be very exciting for us as we are exploring partnership opportunities for creators on promotional spaces such as TV that have not yet been explored in our Business Model.

Further from the music promotions space, we’re focused on building Listn, as a brand, as the advocate for independent music in traditional, online and social media, starting from the next 12 months ahead.

Creators in Control is our motto and as fast as we can turn the tide and make that a fact, our greatest ambition will be fulfilled.

Music Business Worldwide