Spotify: What you need to know
Independent artist; this is the ultimate tactics to get your music on Spotify playlists in 2021. So if you’re looking to improve your Spotify playlisting outreach, you’ll love this article.
Spotify: What you need to know
As a streaming platform, Spotify’s impact on the music industry has been powerful, both as a detriment and an important asset; there are now billions of songs accessible to us at the touch of a button at the same time that artists with hundreds of thousands of streams are struggling to pay their bills. It’s clear that this new platform has drastically changed the way music is created and consumed. Artist’s desire to stay relevant in an ecosystem where the number of weekly releases has increased exponentially, and the revenue earned is literally akin to splitting pennies has resulted in shorter songs that hook quicker, the dismantling of the album, and more tracks per release.
There’s no doubt that there’s increased competition for listenership, and in this new industry climate, there’s been a rise in the importance of playlists. Having a song slotted between trending artists on a popular Spotify playlist could mean the difference between being able to pay their rent and not for today’s DIY artist/musician. For this reason, Spotify curators hold a lot of power in the streaming age, in part because they determine who can make money from streaming.
Getting a single featured on Spotify’s playlists is the new key to success and can build up a genuine fanbase that can sustain an artist’s career for years to come. This won’t come without a little research and hard work on the artist’s part, with no guarantee of placements. In this article, we’ll outline the most important tips for pitching to Spotify playlists to increase your likelihood of getting placed!
- The first step is to ensure that you’ve claimed your Spotify for Artists page
- Fill out your Spotify profile with all important information including tour dates, merch, and social media links. Everything from your bio to your profile photo should be updated to match the appearance and branding of your latest release.
- Become familiar with your Spotify for Artists page, as it will not only be the portal for pitching new releases but will also contain a lot of important data regarding your works. Here, you can track your success as you can monitor which playlists you’ve been placed on.
With these tips, you can transform your streaming revenue from pennies to something that can pay the bills!
Editorial playlist: how to pitch to official Spotify curators
To start off, it’s important to note that there are many kinds of curated playlists featured on Spotify, each with its own best practices for pitching to. Editorial playlists or “official Spotify playlists” are among the most important, as they’re created by Spotify editors themselves; specifically curated for a mood, activity, or genre. These playlists tend to get the most followers and streams, as they are the first playlists to be spotlighted under any of the “Browse” prompts and feature a watermarked Spotify logo in the top left corner.
To submit your music for playlist consideration by Spotify editors, you first want to get your unreleased music to your distributor at least a month before the release date. This type of pitching is done after Spotify receives your track from your distributor and before the official release date. During this limbo, the single will sit in your Spotify for Artists page under the “Upcoming Releases” tab, and from there you can opt to pitch to different playlists, all within the Spotify for Artists portal.
The pitching process here is an automated one, where you’re taken through a series of questions and asked to fill out lots of information regarding the release. You’ll classify the unreleased song based on categories of music, genres, sub-genres, moods, styles, and languages. The most important section is the last part where you’re given 500 characters to include any additional information. This is essentially your “elevator pitch”, and where you must sell the song concisely and effectively. They want to know if you’ve gotten any media buzz, any promotion leading up to the release day, and if there were any notable people that worked on the project. They’ll want to know if and what sort of budget was allocated to supporting the marketing of this release; if the editors know there is an effort (and money) behind your release to ensure its success, they’ll be more inclined to give it a prominent listing. The more information you can include in this section of the pitch in order to sell your song is to your benefit.
If successful, you’ll get an email from the Spotify team detailing which specific playlist(s) your track has been placed on. And with that, may the odds be ever in your favour.
Algorithmic playlist: How to get your song featured
Algorithmic playlists are those that Spotify generates specifically for listeners and their music preferences. You’re likely to have seen the Daily Mix 1 through 4, your Discover Weekly playlist, Release Radar, and all the playlists under the “For You” tab on your homepage. These playlists are updated every day or week with fresh finds that Spotify’s AI thinks you’ll like based on your current listening habits, often suggesting new artists to add to your library that are tangential to ones you already listen to.
These are important playlists to be featured on, and while you can’t specifically pitch to them, there are certain things you can do as a new artist to increase your likelihood of appearing on them. Number one is encouraging your audience and social media followers to “follow” you on Spotify. Once they do, Spotify automatically does a number of things to ensure they’re listening when you release new music, including notifying them in the app, sending them a personalized email from the artists they follow as well as putting that new song into their algorithmic Release Radar playlist. This is all contingent on your song being released to Spotify from your distributor at least seven days prior to the official release date, so an early upload is key!
Being on as many users’ Release Radar playlists is beneficial because the Spotify algorithm will notice that more people are listening to your song within the first week of release and will then push it to more users with similar listening tastes in their Discover Weekly playlists, and other algorithmic playlists.
[Having your audience follow your Spotify artist profile is crucial to growing your streaming revenue and increase the quality of your audience. What’s the difference between listeners and followers, and which is better? Stay tuned for the next JOUZIK blog post!]
Playlist submission: How to pitch to UGC playlists
Lastly, and probably the most expansive type of playlist is the user-generated content or UGC playlists, which are created by you, an independent curator, as well as music blog, media companies, radio stations, retail stores, major and indie labels, restaurants, and the list goes on. These playlists can range from having just a few followers to millions. Typically, UGC playlists are created by your general music lover who doesn’t get paid and curates playlists just for the fun of it. They may not have ever set out of accumulating lots of followers and therefore might not even be aware that playlist pitching is commonplace, so be sure to treat every playlister as a potential fan of your music.
Here’s where the research part comes in – because there are so many UGC playlists, you want to make sure you’re pitching to the ones that would be the best fit for your music. If you’re not careful, you could end up hurting your release more than helping it; by being placed on a Spotify’s playlist that doesn’t match the genre and feel of your music correctly, low streams and high skip rates can occur, leading the algorithm to bury your song and push you further from your authentic potential fanbase. In order to target the UGC playlists that are right for your music, search similar artists on Spotify. In their “About” sections, you can see what playlists they’re featured on, or you can look to media outlets that have written about you in the past and see if they have any playlists in your genre.
As well, it’s just as important to analyze if the playlist is still relevant. It’s all well and good to be placed on a playlist that has followers, but if there haven’t been any recent adds to the playlist or active listeners, then you’re not any better off. Look at the date added on the last song in the playlist and decide if it’s recent enough to consider pitching to it. Your success on UGC playlists can determine future placements on bigger playlists by record labels and other music companies, and editorial playlists.
Now for formulating the pitch: sometimes in the descriptions of bigger playlists, there’s a contact email right there for you to submit your music to. For some professional playlist curators, they’ll have a link to a legitimate submission form you can fill out and attach your music. In other cases, it requires a bit more digging in order to find a method of contact. Oftentimes people use the same username on other social media platforms that they do on Spotify, and you can try looking them up using this information on Facebook, Instagram, or Twitter. You can also try just directly copying the playlist’s link and pasting it into Google and Twitter searches, as the creator will have typically promoted the playlist on one of their platforms.
From here, you can reach out to them via Facebook Messenger which you can send messages to those you aren’t friends with, Instagram direct messaging which will also allow you to reach out to those who don’t follow you, and Twitter direct messaging as well (if Twitter messaging isn’t working, try following them first or even send them a public @ mention)! (See the template below)
It’s always a great idea to start off by complimenting their playlist (make sure you’re following it!) and specifying which playlist, in particular, your music would be a great fit, as a typical user will have many playlists. Sending a concise and still professional message is key: no one wants to get an entire press release in their DMs or email, but your personality and brand should still shine through.
If you don’t hear from them within two weeks, you can follow up with them once, but never spam people you’re in contact with.
Playlist placement: choosing the best playlist promotion services
If that all sounds like too much work than you can commit to, or you’d rather spend your time creating music rather than selling it, there are a multitude of pitching services you can use to send your music to various third-party playlist creators. SubmitHub, Playlist Push, and Groover are among the most popular, but most playlist pitching services will always require some sort of money in exchange.
It’s important to keep in mind that you should never pay for a music promotion service that guarantees placement on an official playlist. It’s the modern-day “payola”, which is when record labels paid or gave generous gifts to radio stations in exchange for radio play on behalf of their artists. This was in a time where radio was dominated by those who could pay the most for spins, predominantly major labels. Nowadays, this is against the law and against Spotify’s terms of service. Paying for playlist placements could get you banned from the platform, or at the very least you’ll likely be placed on a playlist that’s not right for you, once again resulting in low streams and high skip rates.
Now that you know how to pitch your music to Spotify playlist curators, stay tuned for JOUZIK’s next article on the importance of Spotify pre-save campaigns and how to make the most of a new release!
P.S. A cool feature of a Spotify for Artists page is the ability to create your own playlist that is displayed on your artist profile! So, as a Spotify user, what are you waiting for? Go ahead, create a playlist of your favourite tunes and become an independent Spotify playlist curator. Don’t forget to sprinkle in some of your own tracks that match the vibe of the playlist you’re creating. Promote it on social media to your eager fans that would love to know what you’re listening to, increase its followers, and maybe you’ll have other artists pitching their music for your popular playlist! 🙂 It’s a great way to expand your audience and bump up your Spotify streams. As an example, check out Tom Misch, artist and playlist owner (with plus 100,000 followers)!
By Ryan Bulejsza (Twitter: @ryaninmusic)