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Why Spotify Playlists Should be your Best Friend

If anyone follows me in Instagram you’ll know I ranted a bit recently about Spotify not paying artists properly (which they don’t) BUT it is the best platform for musicians wanting to grow their fanbase right now if you can take advantage of the tools they have on offer.

Firstly, Spotify is not concerned about watch time, clicks, likes etc. When it comes to music they want to connect listeners to new music they will enjoy. As their main revenue is from subscriptions, they need to keep subscribers happy which they do by recommending music they will like. This is the way they will keep users on their platform.

So as a band or artist how can you take advantage of what Spotify wants and get yourself recommended to as many listeners as possible? Well, think about it from Spotify’s perspective for a moment. If you’re a new band or have a small amount of music / listeners on Spotify then they don’t really know what to do with you yet. You’re responsible for uploading all of your music and selling yourself to the platform but how does Spotify know you’re telling the truth and you are what you say you are?

Well this is why they developed algorithms in order to determine what music to suggest to individual listeners based on everyones listening habits. To put it simply, if you’re a pop punk band, and people who listen to other pop punk bands listen to you, this helps Spotify know you are what you say you are! But in order to do this effectively the algorithm needs a lot of information.

The algorithm relies solely on listening behaviour and isn’t skewed by anything else. So it’s stating the obvious that you need as many people listening to you as possible. Marketing to your existing fanbase and asking them to listen is going to be limited by it’s current size, that’s where playlists can become your best friend. Playlists are probably the most powerful feature for you in Spotify. You’ve got algorithmic, curated editorial, user and artist playlists. Each of these has the potential to have up to many millions of followers allowing you to reach listeners far in excess of your current fanbase. All of this listening data will them feed the Spotify algorithms and help recommend your music to more relevant listeners.

When you’re releasing a song be prepared to work hard and try to get yourself featured on as many relevant playlists as possible. Find playlists that have bands you like and are similar to you and pitch to them. Create your own artists playlists with other similar sized bands to you and recommend these to your fans, the hope is you’ll create a connection and if they do the same you’re sharing your listeners (don’t forget to add your own songs in there too). Think about micro genres as well as you’re more likely to be hooked up on micro genre algorithmic playlists than any others. Spotify editors often also test out tracks on smaller curated playlists and see how they perform, so if your song does well, the next release could be bumped up to an even bigger one.

If people are offering playlist features in exchange for money - don’t do it. Walk away. There are paid models such as SubmitHub or Playlist Push that might result in you being featured on a curators playlist, however this is not guaranteed and you should look into these services before deciding to use them. There are also tools such as PlaylistSupply that can help you find relevant playlists to submit to.

When you’re pitching for a playlist, ask yourself 2 key questions:

- What’s exciting about you?

- How can you describe yourself that will make somebody say “I want to hear what that sounds like” without even listening to your music?

Get creative, try and be interesting and write out 5 different versions of each of these. Then pick your best ones and use these to submit with your next playlist pitch. Also, make each email or message personal. Sending a spammy email to 100 different emails just shows a lack of effort. Address the curators directly with individual emails for the best chance of getting a response.

Ironically, the better results you get from organic user searches, the less likely Spotify is to recommend you to users in playlists because people are already searching and listening to you. So don’t be disappointed if you’re smashing streams but not getting in many discover weekly playlists - it just means you’re doing well!

Happy Pitching!

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