PERSPECTIVES

Head of Songwriter and Publishing Relations Jules Parker Explains How Spotify Is Bringing Behind-the-Scenes Creators Into the Spotlight

July 8, 2020

Recently, we announced the release of a beta version of songwriter pages and “Written By” playlists, which helps fans, collaborators, and industry partners dive deeper into some of the creators behind their favorite songs. For songwriters, it serves as a new way to share the songs they’ve written on Spotify and get discovered by potential collaborators and fans. As part of that beta, today, we’re unveiling additional pages and playlists from a wide array of incredible songwriters. 

Jules Parker, Spotify’s Head of Songwriter and Publishing Relations, is heading up a new team across Los Angeles, New York, Atlanta, and London focused on expanding our support of songwriters and publishers all over the world. A former songwriter as well as the owner of a songwriter and artist management company, Jules not only understands the tools used in music creation, but he also appreciates the difficulty of the job—and why it’s so important to recognize the work put in behind the scenes. 

We spoke to Jules about his team’s work. Read on to learn more about the world of music publishing and how Spotify’s new songwriter pages are helping connect songwriters, publishers, artists, and fans.

Say you’re a songwriter who’s penned a tune and needs someone to sing it. What’s the process for approaching an artist or getting one to find you, and how does Spotify play into that?

There’s a long-standing perception of a solo songwriter pitching their songs to other people. This can happen—and of course, many artists write and record their own songs—but the reality today is that you generally get in a room with an artist and write a song together, then and there. (Or alternatively, you’ll swap tracks and toplines over email and write the song virtually—all too common these days). So it’s all about networking and collaborating—and that’s where publishers come in. A publisher looks to connect artists with songwriters and other creative opportunities. Plus, these days there are even more opportunities for songwriters to transition to also be successful recording artists—like Julia Michaels, Benny Blanco, and more.

At Spotify, we’re now giving publishers and writers more ways to help unlock opportunities via analytic and songwriter tools. These will, long term, help support both up-and-coming and established writers because they’ll have more information, leading to better connections and networks. Through our Publishing Analytics, publishers and teams can access next-day song and writer stats based on accurate data, and through our songwriting camps and free-to-use studio spaces, writers and artists can pair up to create something new.

Can you tell us a little more about the tools and opportunities Spotify has for songwriters and publishers?

First, we created a home for songwriters with the songwriter page on Spotify. It’s a pilot program—just the start of how we can help songwriters further build their identity and showcase what they’ve done. We’ve also created Written By playlists, which are featured on these pages. We’re working on rolling them out to more and more writers—and just unveiled some new ones today—but they’re a great way for fans to get to know the work of a specific songwriter.

We’ve also been hosting songwriting camps for artists around playlists, genres, or specific artist projects. We’ve done ones around Who We Be, The Most Beautiful Songs in the World, and Butter. Through these camps, we’re providing the opportunity for collaboration in creating great songs that may appear on our flagship playlists or perhaps earn a Grammy nomination. (Here’s looking at Grammy-winning “a lot” by 21 Savage, which was created at a Spotify songwriting camp run by our Atlanta-based Head of Songwriter Relations Paris Kirk).

Finally, we have writing studios that songwriters or publishers can book in Los Angeles, Atlanta, Nashville, Toronto, and London free of charge. We invite songwriters to use these as a place to collaborate and create songs. We’re constantly evolving this project and expanding access to it, and we hope to set up new locations in the future. 

Why is Spotify investing in these projects and tools? 

Supporting songwriters and publishers helps them be able to do what they do best: create and promote the music you love. Your favorite songs begin with songwriters, so the more opportunities we can provide, the better we can help them create that next hit, and the more reasons you have to stream their music. 

Songwriters and publishers are vital parts of the music industry, though what they do is less publicly known, so they often don’t have the visibility they deserve. But we can help with that, because Spotify has a unique ability to drive discovery. Since we began publicly displaying song credits on Spotify in 2018, we’ve seen a 60% increase in how often labels and distributors credit songwriters on their new releases, allowing artists and fans to dig deeper and recognize the work behind the scenes. Now, with the addition of more detail from publishers, we’ve been able to go further in recognizing those behind the songs. 

With the expansion of songwriter pages we’re continuing to evolve how music is discovered, appreciated, and enjoyed by the world. Supporting publishers and songwriters goes hand in hand with artist discovery. People know who an artist is. They don’t know who the writers are, necessarily. If we can help make those connections, we help people discover new music and open up potential career opportunities for the songwriter. It all ties back to our mission of helping creators live off their work.

I was actually just listening to Mark Ronson’s Written By playlist and I discovered new tracks that I didn’t know he had written. I then discovered new artists because of a songwriter I love. It goes both ways. We’re exposing those connections that are not always visible but so important.

These new features enable fans to discover new things about the music they love. What are one or two of your favorite songwriting fun facts?

I think that a lot of people know that Prince wrote “Nothing Compares 2 U,” but loads of people don’t know that he also wrote “Manic Monday.”

There’s also a great Revisionist History podcast episode around the song “Hallelujah.” It was written by Leonard Cohen but only became the standard for ballads more recently, after people like Jeff Buckley started recording it in different ways. Now everyone knows it—thanks to the covers—which shows how the versions of it can take it in completely different directions.

Discover songwriters for yourself starting with Shungudzo Kuyimba’s Written By playlist