How To Get Featured On Spotify Playlists
Updated: Jun 15, 2018
In 2018, streaming accounts for the largest source of revenue for the major labels. Streaming has overtaken physical sales and downloads and now provides a significant income stream for unsigned and signed artists. So, although you may have heard many stories of how difficult it is to make a living from your music via streaming, if done correctly, it is absolutely feasible.
Although the ‘streaming wars’ are ongoing, currently Spotify lead the way with 100 million users, around 50 million of which are paying subscribers. They are the go-to platform for artists to share their music, and crucially, to reach a huge audience of new listeners and get discovered. A track from a new artist featured on a top-tier blog can frequently only garner a few thousand plays. A placement on a big Spotify playlist can get vastly greater numbers than that, very quickly. Arguably more important than press or radio, getting your music on Spotify playlists is a vital goal, but such coveted placements can seem overwhelmingly difficult to achieve. Let us help with our 9 steps to Spotify playlist success.
1. Build followers and get verified
Up until last week, Spotify required you to reach 250 followers before you could request verification – that little blue tick of influence. Although verification is not a requirement to get a track playlisted, it does help. You’ll also be able to properly brand your profile with custom images. Your legion of Spotify fans will also be directly notified when you release new music.
However, Spotify have changed the rules and even accounts with less than 250 follows can be verified. To do so you need to use their ‘Spotify for Artists’ platform. Click HERE for info,
However, followers are still vital for your playlist success. Methods to increase these numbers include the following:
Ask your Facebook and Twitter followers (both on your personal and artist profiles) to follow you on Spotify. Explain the benefits in doing so, i.e. to be the first to hear your next single
Actively promote your music by posting Spotify links to your social networks
Include a Spotify follow link on any direct marketing, such as in your email newsletter, and on your email signature
Create an individual landing page on your own website where you can include embeds of streams (a Spotify player) to tracks you have available on Spotify and a button for a fan to ‘Follow on Spotify’. This is useful as it allows you to take control of the experience the visitor will have, professionally design the page to fit your own branding and provide a unique URL which you can promote and advertise on social networks – all of which should help secure the fans’ conversion to a Spotify follower.
2. Develop a strong brand and professional online presence
A strong, unified brand, that works across all of your social networks, website, promo images, videos, and even your live show is hugely important. You need to be taken seriously by both listeners and Spotify curators alike. During our Music Marketing course at SMB we examine exactly how this is achieved and guide you through the principles and processes of successful branding strategies and online presence management. Click HERE for details of the next course.
3. Understand the types of playlist available
Many of the major in-house Spotify curated playlists use an algorithm to help the Spotify team identify the best tracks to include, and one of the biggest ways to impact this is to have your music featured on as many other playlists as possible… so small playlists can still play a big role in helping you secure this.
It’s important to understand the variety of playlists available on Spotify, in order to know who to target and pitch to. There are public/collaborative playlists that anyone who follows can add to and alter. There are third party playlists that are curated by labels, brands, businesses, press outlets (such as blogs, magazines and newspapers), radio stations and so on. Individuals can create their own playlists, and some can be very influential – other artists, journalists, celebrities – tastemakers. And of course, there are the official Spotify curated playlists controlled by the Spotify editors – these are the playlists that can have an incredible impact on play counts. But they all play a role!
Also, each user is delivered an automatically generated playlist called ‘Discovery’ based on who they follow and what they’ve recently listened to. This is a why gaining followers is important, so you have the best chance of getting placed. The more consistently you release new music, the better chance you have! Instead of releasing an album and having one press campaign and one shot at promotion, move to a single release strategy… making every release an event, extending your chances dramatically over 3 or 4 releases, one after the other.
And of course, when considering your approaches, remember to consider the playlists’ genre, theme, locality and influences.
4. Leverage success from press, radio and other influencers
Whilst press features seem to be having a much more limited role in securing play counts than they once did, they still serve an important purpose. A feature, review or mention in an influential magazine or blog, provides you with a pitching tool. Mentioning in pitches that you’ve recently been featured in Pitchfork, Noisey etc. supply a level of credibility and prestige that could encourage the playlist curator to click listen. The same is true of a good national radio spot play, a sync or a tour support slot with a successful artist. Make those you pitch to aware of recent successes. You’re demonstrating that other tastemakers have given you their seal of approval.
Also remember that if a blog has featured your music, or a particular radio show has given you a spin, there’s no harm in seeing if they curate their own Spotify playlist and asking if they’d consider including you on it – they know who you are, have shown they like the track, so it could be an easy way in.
5. Pitching to curators and following up
Use google and social media to find contact details for the curator of your target playlist. Spend time ensuring that what you are pitching to them is suitable. Carefully listen to the tracks they’ve included on playlists and make sure what you are pitching is relevant. Follow any playlist you’re pitching to. It’s important to show you are a fan of their choices, and that you’re not just pitching far and wide and hoping for the best. You should also nurture relationships with the curators on other platforms such as Facebook and Twitter.
Once you’ve done this, go ahead and pitch a track for the curator’s consideration. Succinctly and politely provide a link, outline why it could be a good choice for their playlist and why you think they’ll like it. Include notable achievements with the track (radio, press...) without sounding salesy, or pushy.
Don’t take rejection to heart. Just because they haven’t accepted your first submission doesn’t mean they won’t accept your next, so remain polite and appreciative. If you don’t hear back, then one follow-up email a week or so later is acceptable, but I’d say after that, it’s best not to continue pursuing – wait until there is something else you have to offer.
During our Music Marketing course, we speak to curators and other tastemakers regarding the best practice guide for artists (and their teams) in how to pitch successfully. It’s a hugely important skill that could make a dramatic difference in your progression. Course details HERE.
6. Engage with the platform
Spotify have said at a recent industry conference that they do give playlist preference to artists that are ‘actively engaged with the platform’. What does this mean? I think this is probably twofold:
1. Providing preference to Spotify links when sharing your releases on social networks and other promotional outlets and 2. Fully engaging in ‘playlists’ by creating your own, regularly updating them, regularly sharing them across platforms and contributing to other collaborative playlists.
Be proactive about creating your own playlists. It’s not only Spotify that will appreciate you creating this content; your fans will feel more closely connected too. Let them know, through your own playlists what you’re listening to, what music has influenced your new record, what music is in rotation on the tour bus… do this regularly and share your playlists on social media – tagging other artists you may have included, encouraging shares and wider awareness from both fans and industry.
7. Share your victories
When you get featured on a playlist – let people know! Share those playlists and thank the curator – they want their choices to be heard by as many people as possible, and so do you.
8. Be careful of the impact of exclusives and platform loyalty
You may be at a level where you, your manager, label or distributor can negotiate an ‘exclusive’ with a particular streaming service in return for favourable promotion. For example, artists I have managed have secured exclusive placements on the homepage of Tidal and iTunes. This can have a dramatically positive impact on sales and streams but be careful – you could jeopardise your success on rival platforms.
9. The role of your chosen digital distributor
This one may be a little more controversial and I’m basing it only on personal experience in pitching for placements on platforms from Spotify to Tidal, iTunes to Deezer. There are some digital distributors where you pay a flat fee and upload your music and they guarantee to have it on sale across all stores – they don’t listen to it in advance. They also say they submit the music for promotional slots (front-page placement, playlists etc.) – however, they submit everything! There are also distributors that will listen to your music and decide whether they want to work with you or not and take a percentage. I would expect that streaming services find it difficult to listen to everything they receive from ‘open distributors’ and that they’d be much more likely to listen to pitches coming from distributors who already have their own quality filter and relationships in place. I can’t verify that this is the case, but from experience, when I have worked with curated digital distributors, as opposed to distributors that guarantee to take your music, my success has been much greater.
To fully understand the process, and how the rest of your marketing strategy can impact on success enrol to SMB’s Music Marketing course. Full details can be found HERE.