Influential playlists have the power to promote new artists to millions of listeners. Check out these steps to get featured on them.
Back when record labels could dictate what was played on the radio, it was achievable to turn a moderately good band into a chart-topping success, from careful radio plugging and traditional marketing methods. Now the tables have turned, influential playlist curators have the power to share new tracks with millions of listeners. For some context, Spotify currently has 83m global paying users and a total active user count of over 180m. Securing a spot on one of these playlists can dramatically boost an unknown artist’s profile and stream count.
So... How to Get your Music on Spotify’s Playlists
1) Find your tribe
Surround yourself with people who share your vision and want to be involved in your success. That may be PR, distribution, visual artists etc. But even those closest to you may possess the right skills. Stormzy regularly speaks about how his close friends have contributed to his career and are now part of his core team.
2) Get verified on Spotify
Get Spotify for Artists so you can find out where your fans are and how they’re listening to your music, this will also verify your profile. Once you’re verified, Spotify curators will take you more seriously. Spotify verification also opens up the opportunity to share a playlist of your favourite tracks (make sure to include a few of your own!), upcoming tour dates and even lets you send mailouts to fans. Make sure your profile looks great and is aesthetically pleasing.
3) Remind yourself that there’s a world of consumers to be captured outside of Spotify
Have you got a video? Can’t afford it? How about a cheap lyric video? Or a well-timed cover? Anna Straker’s cover of Ed Sheeran’s “Shape of You” had over 3 million Facebook views in a week. Are there YouTube channels who might want to feature your video? Reach out to them to submit your music (and make sure you have a link to the streaming services in the description!). Even just uploading the official audio to YouTube opens up the possibility of building a new audience. Don’t just rely on the streams and exposure from one platform.
4) Have you got PR?
Remember, not everyone relies on streaming services for discovery. Music blogs (like us) are still a fantastic source of new music and often inform playlist curators, radio pluggers and A&Rs. If you can’t afford a PR person to help you on this front, then there are multiple ways to send tracks to blogs on your own. As well as reaching out on contact forms, you can make use of services, such as submithub.com.
5) Do a “digital health check”
In today’s world, if you want to engage with your fans, you need to be active on social media. Nigerian Afro-Beat artist Mr Eazi used Twitter and Instagram to run a competition to get fans to design the new cover of his “Accra to Lagos” mixtape. Singer-songwriters such as Gabrielle Aplin constantly talk to fans through Twitter. Constantly be on top of new developments and be creative with the latest pillars of social media marketing, such as IGTV. Remember, your audience wants to know more about you than your music. Share clips, photos, stories and share posts that will drive further engagement. If someone adds you to a Spotify playlist, make sure you tag the curator, share the link on social media and say thanks! Promoting these early features you pick up may help with future playlist additions.
6) Tell your story
Find ways to tell it, to sell it and capture an audience who want to share in your musical journey. Even if it’s a 5-minute mini-documentary walking around your neighbourhood talking about your inspirations.
7) Get creative
If you’re an independent artist then the sky’s the limit in how you reach your fans. Think of some out-of-the-box ideas, and if you can’t think of any, I guarantee there are classrooms of creative students who’d love to be involved.
So by now, you’ve got a great Spotify profile, you’ve got a whole folder of content assets ready to share, you’re present on blogs, you’re telling your story and you’re getting creative in how you're engaging with new audiences. Perhaps you've also landed a great sync deal, collaborated with a big artist or been endorsed by a brand.
As momentum starts to pick up, be sure to develop your strategy over time to maintain growth. Consistently release new music and always think outside the box in how you could engage fans. John Legend turned up at Kings Cross station last year to play an impromptu piano piece to promote his tour, a few hours later both he and Kings Cross were trending on Twitter.
Crucially, if you are following all of the above and the music isn’t getting picked up at all, it may be time to revisit the quality of your music. To reiterate, in today’s hugely saturated music market, success still requires the artist to release good music.
For more of an insight on how to get featured on Spotify playlists, check out our podcast with global playlist and streaming strategist Elise Cobain. Elise has a unique insight into how playlisting and streaming actually works. She tells us how playlists are curated, which ones are worth paying attention to and how to get your music on them!
[ Guest post by Lucie Watson ]