For artists releasing their music in 2019, Spotify promotion is one of the key elements to success in your music career.
In this guide, we tell you exactly how to get your music on to popular Spotify playlists, begin generating streams and being added to Discover Weekly’s.
Think about your last favourite song you discovered, did you discover it from a Spotify playlist?
The likelihood is that you found the song because you were listening to a Spotify playlist or it came up on your Discover Weekly’s. With 45% of people listening to music on streaming services such as Spotify, it is important that your music has a strong presence on Spotify and is given the best chance to be discovered.
Spotify has come under a lot of criticism over the years for not paying artists enough in royalties, with Taylor Swift boycotting the company by not uploading her latest album to the platform, stating that she thought artists were not being fairly compensated for their music. Taylor Swift has now been persuaded to re-join Spotify and uploading her latest album 3 weeks after the release. When speaking to UKTN, Burstimo insisted that Spotify is a monumental platform for the music industry and its survival against competitors such as Apple Music, Pandora, Deezer and Google Play Music is vital for the industry.
Unlike other platforms, Spotify allows user-curated playlists as well as hundreds of bespoke playlists which your music can be added to. This means that users can listen to niche playlists surrounding their mood, activity or genre of music. You can even search for a specific band and listen to similar artists on a playlist which has been specifically designed for fans of this music. With over 2 billion playlists on Spotify, this allows for more opportunity for smaller artists to be discovered.
Other platforms work a little differently, with no user-curated playlists and just branded-only playlists, there are only a handful you can subscribe to, all with gatekeepers who may have a specific taste in music and would not consider niche or emerging artists. This is the same for algorithm generated listening such as Google Play Music and Pandora.
So, although Spotify may not pay out a lot for the streams you gain, it does provide a democratic platform which gives artists an equal opportunity for success, using an algorithm which allows the users to vote with their ears to tell Spotify what tracks deserved to be heard by more people.
What’s happening behind the scenes at Spotify
Spotify does have playlist curators whose job it is to sit and listen to music which could be a fit for their playlist (and we’ll tell you how to contact these guys later), however Spotify has taken this a step further and used the power of technology to help users discover new music. The algorithm uses the playlists you are added to in order to determine what genre of music your band are and also similar artists to your band. With over 35 million songs on Spotify, curators can’t possibly listen to every single track and list similar artists as well as allocate playlists, this task is in the hands of Spotify’s machine-learning in order to correctly place your track.
Once you are added to playlists and getting streams, the algorithm then monitors how your track is performing to decide whether it is worth sharing it to other listeners. Spotify look closely at how often people are skipping your track before the end of the song and look at the engagement rate, which includes whether they go back and listen again, visit your artist profile or add the track to their own playlist. This allows Spotify to create a rating for your track as well as categorising it to know which listeners should be hearing your track on their Discover Weekly or Daily Mix.
If you were to search for people who work at Spotify, you will notice a lot of people who fulfil the role of ‘Data Curator’. These are people who are constantly looking at the data that comes back from your songs and adding it to official playlists. If people are constantly listening to your track, adding it to their own playlists, favouriting the track and repeatedly listening, your track has a very good chance of being added to Discover Weekly’s, it is here where your music will be judged whether it is popular enough to be added to Spotify Official playlists. If a track appears to be performing particularly well in one area, it will be brought to the attention of the Official playlist curator for that genre of playlist.
Full Step-by-Step Guide to getting on Spotify Official playlists
By the end of this guide, we want to get your music in a position to be able to pitch to Spotify Official playlists with confidence. If your track has that dreaded ‘< 1000’ next to it, there is absolutely no way you will be added to a Spotify Official playlist. So, we need to go through several phases to get you ready for Spotify Officials.
Before you start…
This is an important step which shouldn’t be missed. It helps give your profile credibility as well as gets your music picked up by the Spotify algorithm as this will mean your account is prioritised.
If you haven’t been verified already, we suggest you do so now. Lucky for you it’s a much simpler process now that Spotify have launched Spotify for Artists. Simply log in and confirm your details, after a few weeks you will see a little blue check mark on your Spotify profile.
Share your Artist Profile on Social Media
This is for the purpose of getting as many followers as possible. The more followers you have, the greater the credibility you will have as an artist. This helps validate that you have a fan base to any curators looking at your profile, especially for independent playlists as they know there is a chance you will share the playlist on your social media if you were to be added to it, which helps boost the exposure of the playlist and gain more followers. We would always recommend sharing every playlist on your socials, to show any curator that you are willing to reciprocate their belief in you by promoting their playlist to your fans.
Make sure you have a complete Artist biography
Spotify are proud of their platform and will favour those who take the time to make their profile as detailed as possible with great imagery. So, ensure to write the best Artist biography you can with great artwork as well as links to your socials. We understand that this isn’t an area people often visit, but the playlist curators do and that’s who are important to us right now.
Create your own Spotify playlist
This is a great way to get your initial streams, by creating a playlist of similar artists which includes your music, you can promote this playlist which can generate listens and fans. Make sure to give your playlist a name which will entice people to click and listen and your playlist must have more than 30 songs.
How to find playlists to pitch
In order to pitch to Spotify playlists, you need to know how to find them. There are 3 types of playlists to search for genre, mood/activity and similar artists.
This will be most people’s go-to search, if you are an indie-rock band it is natural to search for indie-rock or rock to find suitable playlists.
These are the playlists which we listen to based on how we want to feel, whether it is working out, a road trip or simply waking up in the morning.
These are playlists which are based on similar artists to yourself. Often when a band releases a new album, users will create playlists containing that album and similar tracks.
Pitching to Spotify playlists
Blogs and Brands playlists
This is the best place to start, because these guys tend to take a while to get back to you, so it won’t come through as your first playlist placement.
These branded playlists and blogs have a large following and are considered as early tastemakers for Spotify. Playlists such as Indiemono and Songpickr have submission platforms as well as Facebook pages and email addresses where you can email the curators to consider your track.
You can find these by searching Spotify and finding any playlist which isn’t curated by Spotify or a person’s name.
Once you have found your playlist you can then click the playlist and hover over the description of the playlist, very often the playlist will tell you where you can submit your music. Most of the time there will be an email address, however there are larger playlists such as Indiemono who have an entire platform dedicated to submitting tracks to their collection of playlists.
Some playlists also exclusively use Submithub and this can be a great way to ensure that popular playlist curators such as BIRP.FM listen to your track.
To get you started, here is a list of 42 playlist curators you can submit to right now.
Approaching Independent Curated playlist
This is where things get really interesting. There are thousands of playlists which have been created by regular Spotify users which you can target.
Contacting them is easy, firstly you search the type of playlist you’d like to be on and look at the results.
Find a playlist which is curated by someone with a real name and click on their profile.
Make a mental note of their profile picture and search for them on Facebook.
Search for their name on Facebook, and match up the profile picture
Bonus Tip: If their name does not come up, or if there are too many results, go through their followers on Spotify, and find someone with a unique name and match up their profile. Once you’ve found that person you can search within their friends list for the target playlister.
These types of playlists require a precise approach because it is not their job or hobby to consider new tracks from bands. Not only this, they will be constantly inundated with requests from bands hoping to get a place on their playlist, so simply sending them the track and hoping just isn’t going to cut it.
You should message them on Facebook, firstly complimenting their playlist and congratulating them on picking up such a popular following. You can even pick out a couple of tracks from the playlist which you like and commend them for discovering such an awesome track. Then ask if they would consider your own track, potentially comparing yourself to an artist which is already on their playlist to help validate why your track is suitable for their playlist.
You need to be able to make yourself stand out, and this is much different to standing out if you were going for a PR campaign, you need to give them something in return for considering your track of giving you feedback. One thing you can do is let them know that you will help promote their playlist by announcing that you have been added to their playlist on your socials, which will be of benefit to them as they receive more followers.
You could even run a competition which is exclusive to Spotify curators, by adding their name to a list hosted on your Facebook page, and by giving you feedback on your track could get them entered in to a competition to win an iPad or some gift vouchers. This would help you stand out and show your appreciation that you value their time and are willing to give back.
How to get on Spotify Official Playlists
Now that you have been added to a few playlists, this is your best chance of securing your spot on a Spotify Official playlist. There is potential for your track to be picked up by one of the ‘Data curators’ at Spotify who will notice your track is getting popular and start recommending it to various playlist curators.
Spotify for Artists
Spotify launched this feature back in August 2018 and it is currently still in beta. This is currently your best chance of getting added to a Spotify Official playlist.
Spotify recommends that you submit your song at least 4 weeks before your release to give you the best chance of being placed on an Official playlist.
You can log in to your Spotify for Artists app here:
Once your distributor has uploaded your track to Spotify, in the top right corner of the dashboard you will have the option to ‘Submit your song’.
Here you’ll be faced with multiple categories so Spotify can find the playlists most suited to your music.
On the next page, you will be asked to describe your song. Here is your opportunity to really validate your track and give the curator the reasons why they should take your track seriously. Previously, this field used to ask you to describe what your track is about and the meaning behind it but Spotify has now changed this which gives a strong indication of exactly what they are looking for.
Your pitch should include any press you have received, major venues you have played at and and relevant previous successes, along with a short pitch describing the track itself. You will have a total of 500 characters to squeeze your pitch in to.
UPDATE: Spotify have now changed the layout of their dashboard, if you can’t see a button to submit your track, go to the music tab, then to ‘upcoming’ and your new release will be there.
Pitching directly to curators
We may need to push things along a little more, with your 5 or 6 independent playlists, your track will begin to pick up streams and get picked up by the Spotify algorithm. This is the perfect time to now approach curators who will be able to identify that you have been added to popular playlists, generating streams and potentially showing up on Discover Weekly playlists.
To do this, you need to know exactly who you are targeting and which playlists they curate. The best way of doing this is to search on Linkedin to find Spotify playlist curators. They are usually called ‘Editors’, so your search term should be ‘Spotify Editor’. Usually in their bio they will tell you which playlists they curate and if they don’t, you need to final their personal Spotify profile and look to see which playlists they follow, this will give you a good indication of the genre they like and therefore will curate.
Once you add them on LinkedIn, you will have the function to message them and pitch them your music. Not only this, you can follow up with an email by using RocketReach, which can scrape the internet for their email address or guess their email address with a high degree of accuracy.
Approaching these guys is completely different to any other, they are the most wanted men and women on the planet, and constantly have a mailbox full of tracks to consider every single day, so you need to stand out.
Your email should be kept short and concise, giving them an accurate indication of the genre and similar artists. Don’t be afraid to follow up, their job is an incredibly difficult one and sometimes they may miss your email.
Spotify Official curators still use online blogs to find new music, so your general online presence is incredibly important. You could get discovered by a large playlist curator via an online blogs, which means that using music pr companies to get additional exposure will prove to be a great investment and help with that final push on to Spotify playlists.