Along with streaming platform algorithms, playlists are considered to be a bit of a dark art. Everyone knows they’re powerful, but not many people know what it takes to get featured on one. With the help of @Stish , we’ve developed 5 tips to help you approach a playlist strategy.
How do you approach your playlist strategy? Any tips you’d like to share or think we’ve missed any obvious ones? Let us know in the replies - there’s some studio credit up for grabs for the best answer.
1. Make sure you’re using Spotify For Artists.
- It’s simple, if you’re releasing music via Spotify, you have to be using Spotify For Artists. This platform has lots of helpful advice for users of the platform, but also offers you an opportunity to pitch your music directly to Spotify’s editorial teams.
- Where possible, give yourself a few weeks to get your song uploaded to Spotify and release-ready. Once you’ve submitted your track, you should see it in the back end of Spotify For Artists in the ‘Upcoming’ section. From here (and at least a week from release), you can pitch your track to Spotify’s editorial team and give them the information they need to work with (genre, language etc).
- Why get your track prepped early? Pitching your release gives it a better chance of featuring in your followers’ Release Radar - and if people start liking the track and adding it to their playlists, you’re much more likely to find the algorithm pushing the song further. You’ve got to give it the best chance possible.
- In addition to the above, make sure you have a completed profile and look like a legitimate artist. This helps new listeners turn into potential followers, and gives Spotify the signals they need.
2. Make your editorial pitch personal.
- Plastician has found that making your editorial pitch to Spotify personal helps cut through the submission clutter. Avoid going into great detail about your data (number of followers, most popular releases etc) - it’s likely they’ll have this information already and instead will want to know what makes your release important / special.
- Tell them about the song and what it means to you. How does it make you feel? What sort of mood do you think the song evokes in the listener?
- This sort of information will help their teams contextualise the song and potentially find a mood or genre playlist that fits it perfectly.
3. Do your research and look for user-generated playlists.
Everyone’s familiar with many of the massive Spotify playlists for their genre, but unless you’ve got a label machine behind you or have a viral hit on your hands, it’s unlikely you’ll be featured in one. But this doesn’t mean there aren’t popular user-generated playlists for your genre or mood that could be within reach.
Start by looking at the artists you like within your genre and seeing what playlists they’ve been featured on.
Use Reddit to find subreddits dedicated to your genre and see what sort of playlists people are sharing - forums can be a great place to look too.
Once you’ve found a few options, have a look at the playlists description. Often, these playlists will include contact details for submissions. Although it can be difficult to scale, I’d always approach these with a personal touch. Avoid doing mass mail-outs as you’re more likely to be ignored (keep in mind a lot of the popular ones will get hundreds of requests each week). Make them care about your release and tell them why you love their curation - try to stand out from the noise.
Sites like https://www.submithub.com/ can be really useful in helping you find playlists on YouTube, Spotify etc. But keep in mind, the approval rate on popular playlists is often very low. So prepare yourself for some serious rejection. But keep at it! All it takes is one playlist to pick it up and you can start to find an audience pretty quickly.
4. Turn your listeners into followers
- Your current listeners are your most powerful tool in terms of giving the algorithm signals that your latest release is gaining traction.
- Where possible, you should be encouraging your listeners via your social / email channels to follow you on Spotify. This means they’ll likely discover the track via their Release Radar.
- Getting your track into more Release Radars guarantees you’ll get people listening to and potentially sharing the track, as well as adding it to their playlists etc. All of these actions show the algorithm that your song is doing well and will help it get pushed further and faster on the platform (and will increase your chances of getting added to one of the bigger playlists).
5. Create your own playlist
- If you’re willing to put the time and effort into it, creating your own playlist can be a great way to connect with other artists in your network. I’ve seen artists build entire followings based on a popular playlist they’ve created.
- Once you’ve got an established playlist, you can start to add in your own new releases - a quick way to get people listening.
- It’s important to note that there’s no easy way to go about doing this. It takes time, dedication and a lot of listening. But if you’re up for it and feel like you’ve got a good ear for your genre or a particular mood
I hope some of this was helpful. Would love to hear what you’ve had success with in the past.
For a deeper dive on the topic, check out this conversation between myself and Plastician: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aEz-MXCfHeE