It’s that time of year again. The weather is getting colder, the nights are drawing in, santa is preparing his sleigh; and that can mean only 1 thing - yup, it’s Spotify Wrapped season. Everyone is sharing what they’ve been listening to for the past year (or not if they have a toddler who only listens to the same songs on repeat over and over again which totally messes with the algorithm on your account….) and bands and artists all over the world are sharing the amount of streams they’ve gotten. It doesn’t matter if you‘ve got 50 streams or 50,000 streams - it’s all a success, so well done on your achievements. But what can you do as a artist next year to get more streams? Here, I’ll give 5 tactics you could try and implement which can all contribute to your artistic growth.
Note: NONE of these include paying for playlist placements on Spotify. Don’t do that. Seriously, don’t.
1) Release More Music (duh!)
Ok, so on the surface this is an obvious one. If you keep the same amount of monthly listeners and you release more songs (and they’re as good as your previous) then they’re (probably) going to listen to you more often. But the point I want to really get across here is it’s not going to help you if you release a song and then go quiet for 6 months before you put anything else out again. If you feel like you’ve been a bit inconsistent with your music releases, sit down and plan out a years worth of releases based on 8-12 week single intervals. Make sure you have a decent marketing plan for your songs, think about music videos, online promo, gigs/tours, press etc. Don’t half ass it, go all in and reap the rewards.
2) Be a Good Citizen
Regardless of your opinions of Spotify and how they do business, it is the place where most music is currently consumed by listeners so it’s a good idea to focus a lot of your energy here. So the best piece of advice here is to be a good Spotify citizen. By this I mean tick all of the boxes that Spotify want you to tick. Keep your profile and bio updated, update your photos, gig lists, make playlists, pitch for curated playlists with the right timescale etc, basically do everything they want you to do and it will make your life easier and improve your chances of getting placed on a curated playlist with a lot of listeners. Write yourself a good playlist pitch, direct your fans to your profile and get them to follow you, make playlists of other bands you're into (and you fit with genre wise) and get people to follow them - all of this stuff feeds into the algorithm and makes spotify happy. This way they're more likely to reward you in their listener and playlist algorithms as well as improve your chances of getting a coveted curated playlist spot. There’s a tonne of information on the Spotify for Artists website I recommend you check out, starting with this blog.
3) Market Yourselves
Honestly, I see so many bands do this badly and it's really frustrating. It’s easy to upload a song then do a post on social media to your fan base saying “Check out our new song!!1”. But if you want to grow your following you need to reach more people and market yourselves well. Spend time looking for bloggers, youtubers, podcasts, music websites/zines, interviewers etc and see if they can feature your band. Don't think these have to be huge publications either, a lot of smaller independent press outlets can give you really good reach. Often these people are trying to grow their brands too, so they WANT to review up and coming bands. Once you've made a list of contacts, reach out to them every time you have a new song coming out (give them a few weeks BEFORE the song comes out, not after!). Think like a label and what they would do for their artists who are releasing music. This stuff won’t just fall into your lap, you need to put the work in and reach out to new people but once you've established that connection it can help you every time you put out a new release. Check out Jesse Cannon's Musformation youtube channel for some excellent marketing tips.
4) Play The Playlist Game
Spotify Playlists are where you can really bump up your listeners and there are a few different things for you to think about here. Firstly there’s everyone’s big goal of getting that Spotify playlist placement. The good news about that is anyone can get on one of these regardless of if you’ve released any music before or not. Make sure you follow Spotify’s rules which I touch on in point 3 and write yourselves a good pitch. Second are user playlists - try and find playlists you’ll be suited to and pitch your songs prior to and after release. It’s pretty easy to find these and you can even go on other bands and artists profiles, scroll down to the playlists section to see what playlists they’re on. It’s pretty straightforward to track down a contact email for the curator most of the time. The numbers can really start to add up here if you can get multiple playlist placements for your songs.
The third thing is to make your own playlists with songs you like and add your own songs in there. Include other bands who you’re friends with or are at a similar level, tag them on social media and ask them to add you to their playlists. But this won’t do anything unless you have people following and listening so make sure you promote your playlists and ask people to follow. Also keep everything as a similar genre and style to keep the algorithm happy! Lastly (and this is one that a lot of people don’t think of) is make your own playlist for your songs with your most recent single as the first track. Then when you want to share a link to your new song, link to the playlist and when they’ve finished listening to your new track Spotify will automatically play them your song next instead of a random song!
This is something that I think is currently a bit undervalued by up and coming rock bands at the moment. Collaborating with other bands and artists is win / win for all involved as you’re able to utilise and expand your reach with each other’s fan base. There are a few ways you can do this. The most obvious is stuff like rotating headliner tours and gig swaps, but that won't necessarily help with your streams. Back when I was growing up listening to a lot of punk bands, split EP's used to be a thing all the time. Bands would team up together and release a 4 track EP each with 2 songs. This basically doubles your promotion and exposes you to a new audience who will most likely be into your music as well. I think this could be something to consider doing with Spotify considering you can now share credit on songs and direct link to your Spotify profile. Bring back the split EP!
Why do you think so many major label artists get involved in collaborations with other artists? It’s all about creating the extra exposure.
For rock music I don’t think it’s always the best thing artistically having other featured singers for the sake of it, however that's another option to collaborate and share some PR. Other things like twitch streams, insta and facebook live etc getting other bands involved is going to expand both bands audience to potential new fans. So why not get other bands and artists similar to yours to hype each other up and reach new heights.
So, if you got this far thanks for sticking with me. And I apologise if you thought there would be a simple “With this 1 quick trick you’ll get 1 million streams” but the truth is, it takes hard work and effort to grow your fan base, but don’t let that put you off. Because it’s also a hell of a lot of fun and extremely rewarding.
Check out my Facebook Group for more information posted regularly.