For the past two years, Spotify's most popular playlist, RapCaviar, which currently boasts 7.4 million followers, has been driving the direction of mainstream hip-hop. "Spotify is where records get started," wrote music critic Bob Lefsetz in his June newsletter.
According to Daniel Glass, president of Glassnote Records, RapCaviar has become the absolute proving ground for singles—especially those that aspire to earn radio play—with former MTV and BET programmer Tuma Basa, who was named Spotify's head of hip-hop in 2015, leading the charge.
"Radio stations picked up on that—'If RapCaviar can play it, then I can,'" said Glass in a newly-published article on Rolling Stone, entitled "How Spotify Playlists Create Hits."
Glass' most popular artist, Childish Gambino, has seen firsthand what a RapCaviar placement can mean for the success of a record. "Redbone," which was certified 2x Platinum by the RIAA on July 10, debuted on the Billboard Hot 100 the week of December 10, 2016, at No. 75, but fell off the chart completely just weeks later.
Thanks, in part, to the song being added to RapCaviar—along with its placement in 2017 box office sensation Get Out—"Redbone" re-entered the chart and has spent a total of 36 weeks (and counting) on the Hot 100, peaking at No. 12 earlier this month.
To date, "Redbone" is the most successful single of Childish Gambino's career by any metric—radio play, streams, digital sales.
The game has changed. Who's willing to play?