Betting on Music for Fun and Profit
In my last article, I showed you how I could, well, lose a bunch of money relying on my professional skills.
This time I’m going to show you how to (hopefully) make money on something you enjoy – in this case music.
In my teens, I went through the “that music is popular so it sucks” phase, but I have learned to appreciate pop music; and since November, have made a bunch of money off of it. You can too.
Specifically, there have been nine Spotify markets on Polymarket since I started playing them on 11/25. I was the highest earning trader on eight of them, and the third highest earner on the other. Unfortunately, these have not been high-volume markets.
So, in an effort to save these fun and profitable markets, I’m going to spill my secrets on how to win them.
It’s actually what we talk about at 21:20 in this podcast, if you want to skip the reading:
But for the rest of you, here are my 3 secrets to betting and winning money on Spotify’s charts…
Most of the Spotify markets have been “Will the top song for the week of X be streamed more than Y times?” For example, on Polymarket:
So it comes down to two questions: what will be the top song for the week and how many streams will it get? We’ll tackle each separately.
HOW TO PREDICT THE TOP SONG IN THE WORLD EVERY WEEK
The fun part of these markets is figuring out which song will be #1. Since the week ending 1/27/22, the top song has been “Heat Waves” by Glass Animals. For the coming week, one of three things will happen:
(1) Heat Waves will be #1 again
It’s usually a good starting assumption that the current #1 song will retain its place. So far in 2022 there have been three different #1 songs in seven weeks. In 2021, there were 14 different songs by 12 different artists that hit #1 for at least a day. If we instead look at #1 hits by week, it drops to 11 songs by 10 artists.
That’s not very many for an entire year, so the current #1 retaining its slot should be your default assumption.
(2) A newly released song hits #1
Last year, of the 11 different songs to be a weekly #1, five of them were #1 on their first week released. They were:
- “Driver’s license” by Olivia Rodrigo
- “Good for u” by Olivia Rodrigo
- “Peaches” by Justin Bieber
- “Easy on Me” by Adele
- “All Too Well” by Taylor Swift
Three of those songs were by three of the biggest artists in pop music and one was a new artist with a record-setting debut album. You need to be on the lookout for these.
Unfortunately, most new singles aren’t announced ahead of time. Rather, they just drop at midnight on each Friday. I use this page to see if any were announced ahead of time. Another way to predict that a single will drop is to look at the album release calendar.
Usually if an artist is dropping an album and they don’t already have a single high on the charts, they’ll drop a new single along with the album.
If no major singles or albums are announced ahead of time, you just wait until the singles drop at midnight to check them out. They get posted to the Spotify New Music Friday playlist.
Once the playlist is updated, look for any big artists and listen to their songs and determine if they’ll be a breakaway hit.
Just because it’s a Justin Bieber song doesn’t mean it will be an instant #1.
For example, “Peaches” was but “Hold On,” “Anyone,” and “Ghost” were not. It has to be a great artist and a great song to hit #1 immediately. Another recent example was “Joker and the Queen” by Ed Sheeran and Taylor Swift. I saw that on the new release list and thought it would be a sure winner, but unfortunately the song sucked and it never threatened to reach #1
Another thing to take into consideration is the number of streams that the top song is receiving. “Heat Waves” is getting around 30 million streams, which is on the low end of what a #1 song will get. That means songs that would have placed #2 or lower when Olivia Rodrigo was dominating the charts last year will instead be #1 hits with the lower number of streams needed.
(3) A previously released song hits #1.
It’s slightly more common for an existing song to hit #1 than a new song. Here are the examples from 2021:
- “DAKITI” – Bad Bunny
- “Montero” – Lil Nas X
- “Beggin’” – Maneskin
- “Stay” – The Kid LAROI and Justin Bieber
- “Abcdefu” – GAYLE
- “All I Want for Christmas is You” – Mariah Carey
This is a weird mix. Bad Bunny is a Latin artist that was the most streamed artist of 2021. Lil Nas X was a 2019 breakout artist. Maneskin is an Italian rock band and their song is a 2017 cover of a Four Seasons song. Kid LAROI is an 18 year old Australian pop singer. GAYLE is a 17 year old whose first single hit #1. And Mariah Carey owns and always will own Christmas.
What do they all have in common? Well, nothing really except they all had #1 hits in 2021. In general, the best way to predict if an existing song will threaten to hit #1 is to track its daily numbers. Spotify has daily numbers going back to 2016 here.
You can track trends in the #1 song and the song you think might displace it to determine if an existing song will make it. Additionally, here are some tips:
How Many Times will the Top Song be Streamed?
Now that you’ve figured out which songs are candidates to be #1, it’s a matter of figuring out how many times they will be streamed.
For existing #1 songs, this is mostly an exercise in determining how much its numbers are decaying each week. Numbers aren’t uniform each day (for ex. Fridays and Saturdays typically have the most streams,) so be sure to compare entire weeks or compare the same days week over week to track trends. Data drops each morning and you can update your projections then. Usually, the number of streams for the market will be based on the existing #1 song’s trends, so if you are fairly certain that a song will displace it, you should bet the over.
How Can I Check My Predictions?
The Spotify daily drops each morning but the time isn’t consistent. I’ve seen it drop anywhere from 3:30 am to 11:00 am Central time. But you don’t need to wait until the daily updates to know how you are doing. There are several other ways to see how a new song is performing.:
iTunes and Apple Music
Unlike Spotify, iTunes and Apple Music update during the day. iTunes reflects songs sold and, since nobody buys music anymore, it doesn’t take many sales to climb up the charts. A single that sells well won’t necessarily do well in streams (for example, both of Kid Rock’s recent awful singles made #1 on the iTunes charts but didn’t do anything on the streaming charts,) but it does provide some indication of how the song is doing.
Apple Music is more useful. They update their streaming rankings throughout the day but their rankings are for the United States only while the Spotify markets are global, so use caution. Rap and hip hop songs tend to do better in the United States than globally, so don’t assume that a rap song that is #1 in Apple Music will be #1 on Spotify global. However, the Apple Music charts do provide useful information. When Adele’s album dropped, the entire top 10 was made up of Adele’s singles the following morning, indicating that the album was a hit.
TikTok is the most popular app in the world and lots of Spotify hits catch fire on TikTok as well. To get an idea of if a song is catching fire on TikTok, search for the song title and click Sounds on the search results. You’ll be able to see how many videos have used the song so far and by watching several videos, you can see how many parts of the song are being used and if the song is catching on as a dance song.
Search for the single on YouTube as well. YouTube will show you where the song is ranked on the Trending rankings as well as how many views the video has. Again, this won’t give you an exact answer on how the song will do on Spotify, but it will show you if the song is getting traction on another popular platform.
One last way to check on the potential popularity of a song is to see if it is getting radio play. I’ll typically check the recently played songs on my local top 40/mainstream station as well as those in Los Angeles and New York. Some songs will release digitally before they release to radio stations, and those songs usually won’t hit #1 until they get radio play.
This Sounds Awesome, Now What?
Thursday night or Friday morning, check out the list of new releases and, if there are any big artists, listen to the songs and judge if you think they will be big hits or not. Then get on Polymarket and bet your beliefs. The typical markets release on Thursday and resolve the following Friday. This week’s market will likely be all but over by the time you read this, but lookout for a new one later in the week.
Hit me up on Twitter if you have any questions or want to run ideas by me. Thanks for reading. And remember, we talk about this in detail on this podcast at the 21:20 mark if you want more info.
@gaetend on Twitter