Music streaming today gives radio and record sales a run for their money, and Spotify remains the top of the food chain for streaming and playlists. Even though the return for artists is extremely low, musicians have found ways to leverage playlists for marketing and promotion.
Similar to the days when you needed to be in the right place at the right time to get picked up by a label executive, playlists curators, by far and large, have the upper hand. However, while there is no concrete method to "crack the system," there are things to keep in mind that will help you succeed on Spotify as an artist.
1. Understand different kinds of Spotify playlists
There are a few different ways to get your music on a playlist on Spotify. The first is by creating your own playlist. Anyone with a Spotify account can make a public playlist. But make sure it's a valuable playlist that others will want to follow, not just a list of your band's music. Use this opportunity to share your interests and influences with your fans, while sprinkling a few of your own songs in as well.
You can also use this as a way to engage your fans and show that you value what they're listening to! Ask for song submissions from your social media followers or people on your email list. The more you can connect what people like to your music, the better.
The second option on Spotify is to get on other users' playlists. This can be a curator or another listener. It can be tough getting placed on a curated tastemaker's playlist, but it's not impossible. It takes a lot of research and some good PR to find the right ones. Casting a wide net is not always the smartest strategy here. Find the niche playlists that really fit your sound and stick to your brand.
The third way to get shared on Spotify is through algorithmic playlists. These lists are curated based on a listener's interests and behaviors, as well as your song's genre, number of plays, number of followers, other playlists you're featured on, etc. The best way to get Spotify's attention is to drive traffic to your Spotify page, submit your song for Spotify's Discover Weekly playlist whenever you have new music, and work hard to build your following outside of Spotify enough to get their attention.
2. Engage and build your Spotify following
Similar to any other platform, Spotify's algorithm wants to know that people want to hear your music. Make sure your artist profile is complete, up-to-date, and an honest reflection of your music. Then, add your Spotify artist link to social media posts/comments, your website, emails, or run a series of Facebook ads to get people to your profile.
Also, know that this process takes time. You don't want to harass your fans, but consistent messaging is the only way to grab their attention. If you want, you can make it fun for them. If you release a weekly playlist every Friday for fans to look forward to, they'll be more likely to engage and get your numbers up.
Ultimately, Spotify isn't where you'll get the most meaningful interactions with fans, but it is a way to get your music to ears that haven't heard it before. As long as you keep those goals and understandings in perspective, your strategy will reflect that.
3. Communicate clearly & professionally with playlist curators
If you decide you'd like to start reaching out to playlist curators, it's crucial that you do your research and stay organized. Be as specific as you can when searching for playlist titles. The more catered your music is to their taste, the better chance you have of landing a spot. Also, be sure you are keeping track of who you want to reach out to – user name, playlist title, contact information (which may be a link to their Facebook profile), etc.
There are a few things to look out for when looking for playlists to pitch. If the last song wasn't added within the past year or so, that playlist may or may not be active (it's up to you to decide what's worth it). Try your best to pitch to playlists with all kinds of follower counts. There could be some great opportunity in small to mid-level playlists. Don't write them off based on size alone.
And finally, when it comes time to reach out, do so respectfully and professionally. Craft a pitch that's personal, informative, and gives them everything they need. Then, thank them for their consideration and keep track of your responses. Who knows, it could be an opportunity to return to in the future.
4. Build and reassess your Spotify playlist strategy often
Finally, perhaps the biggest secret to Spotify success: put in the hours. While it's true that some artists are "discovered" overnight by getting added to a playlist, the majority of bands have to put in hundreds and thousands of hours developing their brand, creating a social/online following, and investing in other forms of digital marketing. And that doesn't even account for the actual writing, recording, and performing music.
Researching and contacting playlist curators takes an unbelievable amount of time, when done properly. Testing and collecting data to inform your strategy also takes time. You can do it yourself, or hire an agency to do it for you. But regardless, use what you do have and build from there. If you have no Spotify following but you have a heavy tour schedule, use your platform on the stage to start building your platform online.
Ultimately, you have to decide what is important to you as an artist. If you'd like to talk more about your band's playlist or PR strategy, contact Noise Gate to get started or sign up to get bi-weekly marketing insights delivered straight to your inbox.