Artist Management Companies & Spotify's NMF

We analyzed a year of Spotify's New Music Friday to look for connections between artist management companies & the artists featured

Aug 18, 2023

This post is from a newsletter ROSTR's CEO sent to Pro members.


I spent 8 years running artist services at Spotify.

I “joke” that I spent the first 5 years getting shouted at by managers about per-stream rates. Then the last 3 years getting shouted at by managers about not getting on New Music Friday. Some of you reading this were in the room 👋

For better or worse, NMF is an obsession for the industry. And, now I’m no longer the one getting shouted at about it, I thought we’d take a look at what the numbers look like...

⚠️ The data dives I’m doing / will be doing in these newsletters are pulled together pretty quickly. It’s very likely that we’re missing key points (or missing the point altogether). They're intended to be conversation starters, not high science.

How many MGMT Co’s actually get an NMF look?

We analyzed 12 months of Spotify’s NMF (Global), looking at the connections between MGMT Co’s & the artists featured on the last 52 NMFs.

  • ~1.6K MGMT Co’s had at least 1 artists appear, at least once.

  • We’re tracking around 6.5K MGMT Co’s, so that’s 1 in 4 Co’s that got a look in the last year.

  • Put another way, 75% of MGMT Co’s didn’t get a look for any of their artists in the last year.

  • Fewer than 400 Co’s (6%) got more than one NMF look

Distribution of management companies according to how many times their artists appeared on NMF over the past 12 months.

💡 As a MGMT Co, your statistical chance of having an artist on NMF in any given week is under half a percent (0.47%). Just shy of your chances of flipping heads on a coin 7 times in a row (0.78%).

The vast majority of MGMT Co’s rarely, if ever, have an artist on NMF. Yet, from what I hear it’s still a major part of the conversation. And this is just from the PoV of management. Of course, the real competition is the 100’s of thousands of new tracks each week.

But I also hear from managers that their artists have an expectation that their managers should be getting them on NMF. This perpetuates the cycle where managers prioritize it. But, the reality is that very few will be able to, even over a 12-month period.

Unless you’re one of these companies...

MGMT Co’s getting A LOT of looks

While most MGMT Co’s are doing well to get one placement a year, other companies are mainstays. These are the top 15 MGMT Co’s based on the total NMF adds (last 12 months) + additional columns to help contextualize.

Management companies whose artists had the most appearances on NMF in the last 12 months

First up, this is a list of the top 15. All of these companies are doing massive NMF numbers relatively. It’s also worth noting that different genre focuses have a big impact due to release frequency/features etc.

  • Red Light artists have the most appearances (142), which isn’t super surprising given they have 4x more artists than the next largest MGMT Co. At least one of their artists appeared on 96% of all NMFs in the last 12 months. 73 different artists got a look (17% of their 400+ artist roster). Over the course of the year, they’re getting 1 NMF add for every 3 artists on their roster (0.3 score).

  • The inverse is Fee Banks. 4 artist roster with 35 total adds appearing on over half of the last 52 NMFs. That’s 8.8 appearances for every artist on the roster; by far the most effective pound-for-pound on this list.

  • Other companies with high hit rates across their roster include TDE & Solid Foundation. This illustrates where a specific genre focus can bias this data as these companies (+ Fee Banks) are predominantly HipHop which tends to have a) more frequent releases & b) more featured artists.

Management power consolidation

A trend we’ve been seeing at ROSTR over the last few years is that the biggest management companies are getting bigger (by roster size). They’re also signing more and more of the A-List from smaller shops.

Our recent World’s Leading Artist Management Companies 2023 report showed the growing gap between the top 20 or so companies & the rest of the pack in terms of roster and audience size.

  • The top ~5% of MGMT Co’s had >50% of all the slots on NMF over the last 52 weeks. It’s not quite the classic 80/20 Pareto ratio, but it’s a definitive concentration.

  • The top 15 companies listed here contributed ~20%(!) of all artists that appeared on NMF last 12 months. Which is kind of nuts.

The top 15 & how consistently their artists are getting NMF over the last year

Of course, having popular artists will get you on NMF more. But getting more of your artists on NMF (either by direct or by label influence) will also be one of the factors that helps you get more popular artists in the first place. This is a massive oversimplification for brevity, and it’s of course just one of many opportunities an artist is looking for.

But, I think it’s illustrative of a trend towards an emergence of “majors” in the management world. Rosters won’t be nearly as big & it won’t be as consolidated as record label or agency majors, but there will be a very clear scale gap between ~10 or so companies & the rest of the management world. This is already happening, but I believe it’s going to accelerate.

These “majors” will be increasingly attractive to the artists that break-out into the major leagues, as they’ll be able to deliver more consistently (alongside their partners) across a range of different opportunities (e.g. playlist promotion). This will help to entrench the cycle.

Management has always been one of the few fragmented areas of the music industry. Is that changing?However, like the “majors” all over the music industry, there’ll be artists who don’t fit, or want, that model...

👉 Side note & a huge shout to the ROSTR team. In the past 12 months 3,455 unique artists have appeared on NMF. ROSTR has management info for 85%+ of them & agency info for 80%+ of them.

Mark Williamson
CEO/Co-Founder @ ROSTR