Spotify is the world’s biggest music streaming platform, with 2018 statistics showing 191 million monthly active users, 87 million of which are Premium subscribers. Spotify is not only the best way for artists to get their music listened to but it’s also one of the highest performing platforms for engaging an organic audience, making it perfect for your music marketing.
Therefore, it’s key you have all of your releases on Spotify, taking advantage of the platform and its fantastic features. In this blog post, we’re going to teach you how to get your track onto Spotify, how to use the Spotify for Artists app and then how to increase your streams exponentially. You need to be doing every single one of these things to see the results, so make sure you’re not just read this blog post but actually putting it all into action.
How to Get Your Music on Spotify
You’ve written your next track, had it professionally produced and had some fantastic artwork created, but now what? Now you need to get the track live on Spotify on your artists profile. For those of you who have never uploaded to Spotify before, you will need to get a distributor to put your track onto Spotify, but which one do you choose?
By definition, a music distributor is “the way that recorded music gets into the hands of the consumer”. In 2019, the music consumer is on Spotify, therefore you need to be getting a distributor who has the best relationships with Spotify, provides quality metadata and most importantly gets you instant access to your Spotify for Artists.
Who is the best distributor for Spotify?
Spotify recently announced their 2019 ‘Preferred Distributors’ list, so we’d highly suggest choosing one of these to distribute your music onto Spotify. The list is made up of 2 different distributors – CD Baby and DistroKid.
Each distributor works differently, at a different rate, so every artist will have a preferred one but both DistroKid and CD Baby allow you to create accounts, pick a package, pay and then you’re good to go.
When approaching your distributor, you need to make sure that you have set your release for a month in advance (we’ll explain why later), have your correct artist name, artwork, MP3 and if you’re already on Spotify, make sure you’re matching your new release to your already existing profile.
What to Do Once You’ve Got a Distributor
Now you’ve chosen your distributor and uploaded your release, you should be given immediate access to your Spotify for Artists account. Spotify for Artists provides artists access to tools for managing their profile and viewing the statistics on their streams. It’s key you have access to your Spotify for Artists account as soon as possible as you need to have your profile up to scratch by the time your song is released.
Once you’ve logged in to your Spotify for Artists account, you need to update everything, so by the time your track is released, your audience has all the necessary information on you. To start with, you need to choose a display picture, which is the image that people will immediately see if they search for you on Spotify. Make sure this picture is representative of you as an artist. For example, if you’re a band, you need to have a full band shot and if you’re DJ you may prefer a shot of you performing live. Choose an image that will portray you as an artist and will entice someone to listen to your music. You can then add further images and your artist biography.
One thing you must make sure, is that your social media accounts are linked to your Spotify Artist page. We’d always suggest having all of your social media display pictures matching your Spotify image, so that if people become a fan of your music on Spotify, they can easily find your socials. Now you’ve done all of those things, Spotify will make your profile verified with a blue verification check mark.
Using Spotify for Artists to Get onto Spotify Official Playlists
Earlier we mentioned that you should b e getting your track to your distributor AT LEAST 4 weeks prior to release date and now we’re going to explain why. In July 2018, Spotify announced that any artist that had access to their Spotify for Artists account could submit unreleased music directly to their editorial team for playlist consideration. With statistics proving that Spotify playlists can boost an artist’s royalties by €163,000 with one playlist add, it’s essential you’re using this feature.
If your distributor has uploaded your track to Spotify for Artists (sometimes they can be slow so make sure you push them), you can submit your track to Spotify’s editorial team via your Spotify for Artists account. Spotify suggest doing this at least 2 weeks prior to release but we’ve found most success when submitting 4 weeks or more before release date.
How to Use the Submission Form
Once you’ve logged into your account, you’ll see on the top right-hand corner that there is an option to ‘SUBMIT A SONG’. Clicking this will take you to a form, which you will need to fill in to explain the sound, style and themes of your release. It starts with very basic information such as genre, instruments used and language but then there’s an option to ‘Describe your song for us’.
The song description is the most key part of the submission process as it’s the section where you can fully pitch your track to the editors, stand out amongst the thousands of others pitching and also provide information which could put you onto a niche playlist. You need to think carefully about how you want to be portrayed to these editors and what sort of playlists you believe your song could be fitting for. When they ask for additional information, they don’t want to know when you started playing music or when you recorded it, they want something that will be impressive and make you far better than another artist that has submitted. We would suggest breaking down your pitch into the following areas:
- Previous successes e.g. press, support slots, awards
- Any previous Official Spotify playlists you’ve been on
- What you’ll be doing in the near future e.g. touring
- Describe the song in a few words
The description of the track has a 500-character limit, so try to focus your attention on the stand out points, rather than describing the sound, as the rest of the form will allow you to add your genre, mood and energy to describe the track.
Using this submission form will also guarantee that every single one of your followers has your track put on their Release Radar on release day and could also mean you get added to a Spotify Official playlist.
What to Do If You Haven’t Been Added to An Official?
Fast forward 4 weeks and your release is live on Spotify! You may not have got onto a Spotify Official playlist yet but don’t be disheartened if you haven’t, as there’s still hope due to their powerful algorithm.
Spotify’s algorithm is broken down into 3 main areas – Collaborative Filtering, Natural Language Processing and Raw Audio Analysation. Collaborative filtering basically means that they will judge how good your track is by the skip, save and listen rate, Natural Language Processing is the ability to understand human speech, therefore songs in your language are pushed out to you, and then Raw Audio Analysation allows Spotify to judge the time signature, key, mode, tempo and volume. Pretty impressive, right?
But how does this impact the musicians? Well, Collaborative Filtering is the main one to focus on as it’ll be what has the most impact on your music and will push your track out to the right audience and playlists. No matter if this is your first release, you’ve got no streams or you’re a platinum selling artists, Spotify will take your track and test the reaction it gets. They will place your song on Discover Weekly playlists and then take the data to see if it’s worth pumping out to more people. For example, if most people are skipping your track, not listening past 30 seconds (past 30 seconds counts as a stream) and not saving your song, Spotify’s algorithm will work out that it’s not a strong song and then not push it out to more people.
Besides the Release Radar and Discover Weekly playlists, Spotify have other Official playlists which are generated by the algorithm called ‘Fresh Finds’. There are Fresh Finds for basically every genre, for example the rock one is ‘Fresh Finds: Six Strings’. There is a Fresh Finds for everyone, so if the algorithm is noticing people really engaging with your track, there is a high chance that you will be added to a Fresh Finds.
Therefore, artists need to be patient, as if you’re not immediately added to a playlist, you may find you’ve been added to one up to 8 weeks after release. If you’d like to see which playlists your track has been added to earlier than Spotify’s own email notifications, you can use services such as SpotOnTrack who are constantly scanning Spotify’s playlists to update artist’s on where their track is being posted.
What to Do After Release
Besides submitting via Spotify for Artists, once your track is live you can also pitch to user curated Spotify playlists. Unlike any other streaming platform, Spotify allows user-curated playlists, which means anyone can create a playlist and secure followers. There are hundreds of thousands of bespoke playlists on Spotify, which allows artists to secure playlist placement, even if it’s not on Spotify’s Official playlists.
Some of these user-curated playlists actually generate more streams that then Spotify Official ones due to their high following. Finding these playlists is pretty simple, you just need to know what to search. There are 3 types of playlists you can search for and that is genre, mood/activity and similar artist. For example, if you’re an indie rock band, you could search for ‘Indie Rock’ for the genre, ‘Rock Work Out’ for the activity and ‘Arctic Monkeys’ for similar artists.
Once you’ve found a playlist that you think you’d be fitting for, you need to pitch to the curator. In March 2017, Spotify removed the inbox feature, meaning you can no longer reach out to a curator on the Spotify platform. However, often people have their Spotify profiles linked to their Facebook, so the image will match. To find the curator, you click the playlist, click the name of the person next to ‘Created by’ and you’ll be directed to their profile. From here, you need to search for them on Facebook or Instagram and message them explaining how you really like their playlist and think your track could be fitting.
This can extremely long winded but if you get the results, it’s definitely worth it. If you don’t however have the time to do this, you can also use SubmitHub or you can submit to blogs who have playlists, such as Crack In The Road, via email.
What to Avoid At All Costs
One thing you MUST stay clear of is paying for plays or paying to be put onto a playlist as this is against Spotify’s Terms and Conditions and is also fraud as you’re getting paid royalties for these fake streams.
One specific platform to stay clear of is Fiverr, as there are over 100 different ‘Playlist Promotion’ services on Fiverr which all ‘guarantee streams’. If any company can guarantee you streams, then they are paying for them and you must stay clear! What these companies will do, is pay for you to be placed on a playlist and then run bots through these playlists, which will generate a huge number of monthly streams. If they’re not doing that, they’ll just buy the streams outright and you’ll see a massive spike on your Spotify for Artists graph, indicating that the streams are fake.
Not only is this against Spotify’s T&Cs but it can also hinder your chances of getting legitimate engagement, growing your fanbase and getting signed to a major label. These bots won’t be saving your song but just streaming on repeat, which Spotify will spot as negative engagement, which will mean they won’t naturally push you out, therefore you won’t secure organic growth. As well as this, labels can spot fake streams and playlists and if they can’t spot it immediately, it will most definitely be obvious when they look at your social media and the followers don’t match, or they attend your next show and it’s empty!
Promoting Your Spotify Outside of Spotify
Taking a fan from one platform to another is extremely difficult as each one is created to keep the user on their platform and not move anywhere else. However, if done correctly, you can easily convert people into fans by promoting your Spotify link on other platforms.
Using social media is the easiest and most effective way to push people to your Spotify but as I mentioned earlier, these platforms are designed to keep people on them, so you need to be clever with the way you promote it. The best social media platform to promote your Spotify is Instagram.
Instagram has over 1 billion active monthly users, so the majority of your audience will be on this platform, engaging with content, therefore you must be taking advantage. Instagram has introduced multiple features, which mean artists can promote their Spotify simply and effectively.
The first feature is adding a link to your Instagram bio. Unlike other platforms, Instagram doesn’t allow you to add clickable links into your captions, so for artists this can be extremely frustrating as how are you meant to direct people to your Spotify? This is where your bio comes in handy! When you next post an image or video on your feed or story, you can mention that the link in your bio will direct them there, meaning people can easily click through to your Spotify profile.
The next feature that Instagram have announced, which benefits artists massively, is the ability to add music from Spotify to Instagram Stories. This feature is huge for musicians as it means your fans can click through to your Spotify straight from your story. You can do this on the Spotify app by clicking ‘Share’ on the track and then ‘Instagram Stories’.
Using Instagram Ads
Both of the features are only useful for getting your already existing fans to listen to you on Spotify but what about potential fans? This is where social media advertising comes into play. Instagram is currently the cheapest social media platform to run ads, in regards to the engagement you receive in return. Therefore, we’d suggest focusing the majority of your ad budget into Instagram. There are 2 different advertising strategies you can follow and those are Swipe Up Ads and Instagram Sponsored Posts.
The swipe up feature is only available for accounts with over 10,000 followers, therefore the majority of artists won’t be able to use this feature and must instead pay for the ad. The swipe up feature is only on Instagram Stories and allows the user to swipe up to be taken to another platform i.e. your Spotify account. You can create these ads via the Facebook Ad Manager of Power Editor. From here you must choose the objective for your story ad, select ‘Edit Placements’ and then select ‘Stories’, add your pre-recorded/pre-shot story and then add the most crucial part, the link to your Spotify. Make sure you preview your ad before submitting, just in case you filled it in wrong!
For Swipe Up Ads, we’d suggest doing a video as they have a much higher engagement rate, ending the video with a solid screen so the viewer has the chance to swipe up on the ad and most importantly, you need to add an action e.g. ‘Swipe up to listen’.
The other ad you can run is an Instagram Sponsored Posts. 60% of Instagram users are discovering new products on Instagram and those products include music, therefore the average Instagram user is prepared to see ads and engage with them. Instagram sponsored posts are organic posts on your Instagram, which you can then pay to promote. When you do this, the post looks exactly the same as it would on one of your followers’ feeds, except it has the word ‘Sponsored’ above it. Again, you need to create the ad via the Facebook Ad Manager, choose ‘Engagement’ as your objective, choose your target audience and add the URL to your Spotify, so people can click through to your Spotify from the ad.
Both Instagram Swipe Up Ads and Sponsored Posts can be extremely effective but it’s all about the content you promote. It’s key you’re not making the post too salesy, as if it comes across as an advert, you’ll be wasting your money, and no-one will click through. Instead, make it out as if you’re offering the audience something. For example, you could state that your song is extremely upbeat and happy so if they swipe up it’ll brighten their day. Always be giving to your audience, rather than taking and it’ll prove to them that you want to engage and create relationships, rather than just treating them as numbers.
Using Online Promotion
Another method to promote your Spotify links is by securing features on blogs. The internet has opened up endless possibilities to promote your music online, making it easier than ever to gain online coverage through music PR.
To do this, you need to find appropriate blogs for your genre and style. We’d suggest finding a similar artist to yourself and then looking at their social media or searching on Google, to see what coverage they’ve secured. Then when you pitch to the blog, you can explain that you have a similar sound so they may be interested in featuring you.
Outside the genre specific blogs, you can also pitch using your geographical links, so if you’re an Irish artist, you need to be pitching to Irish music blogs, and then angle led sites. By angle led sites, this means finding your niche and then finding the relevant blogs. Your angle could be your gender, sexuality, religion, instrument you play or the story behind the lyrics.
When pitching, make sure you’re using the Spotify link so that they can embed it within the blog post, securing more streams and engagement for you.
Again, you can also use SubmitHub if you don’t have the time to be finding these blogs and pitching to them.
Spotify is not only the largest streaming service in the world but it’s also one of the undisputed tastemakers in this modern music industry, using powerful algorithms to drive discovery and engagement to music across the globe.
We can’t emphasise enough just how important Spotify is for every single musician’s development and all of these tips will guarantee you’re taking advantage of all of its features, secure as many streams as possible and engage a larger audience than you ever have before.