In recent years, the digital music market has become a mainstay within many of our lives. I came across a post on Reddit recently enquiring if people still buy CDs. Some users were commenting stating that they hadn’t bought a CD since pre-2005! Streaming is most definitely here to stay and as such, musicians absolutely must take advantage of what it has to offer. Much like the mail order vinyl clubs of old, Spotify has lead to a wave of music curators bringing exciting new music to the masses. Today, I want to discuss how you can take advantage of Spotify playlists and use them to grow your fanbase without having to spend a cent!
Getting on Spotify
First off, I feel it’s worth addressing the topic of actually getting your music onto Spotify. Digital music distribution is a pretty important topic for any modern musician to be clued in on. If you already have your music on Spotify, feel free to skip ahead at this point.
If you want to be on Spotify Playlists, you’re going to first need to be on Spotify. This is easiest done through an independent music distributor such as CDBaby or Distrokid. These distributors will help to get your music onto all of the major streaming platforms, deal with licensing and will also act on your behalf when collecting your royalties. Neither of them cost very much to sign up with and offer a range of very powerful tools. This means you can focus on making music instead of the having to distribute your music.
Once you’ve picked a distributor and signed up, you can begin uploading your music and providing all of the information. Most of these sites act pretty quickly in getting your music placed on streaming sites but it can take up to three weeks in some cases. If you’ve got a specific release date in mind, it’s best to plan ahead of time. Unlike sites like YouTube and Soundcloud, your fans won’t have instant access as soon as you upload. Now that we’ve got you on Spotify, it’s time to start bending it to your will and building up those play counters!
Finding Spotify Playlists & Making Contact
This approach is for those of you who are sincere and don’t feel like participating in the pay-to0play scheme. It’s a similar approach to the way you might use Soundcloud or YouTube for featuring a requires a little bit of research and writing.
Step one is to the research. We need to try to find some relevant, active playlists that are going to be a good breeding ground for your music. You can do this by searching for Spotify playlists that have a similar genre or vibe to the music you make. Let’s say you make old-school hip-hop. Searching for things like old-school Boom-Bap is going to throw up tons of potential playlists you could approach. Equally, you can pick some artists that you associate your music with and search their names to find similar playlists.
The thing to be aware of here is finding playlists that are active and with a fan-base that suits your position within your career. If this is your first release, you probably don’t want to be targeting heavily active playlists with 1,000,000+ followers. It’s unlikely you’ll be accepted. Instead, look for active lists with a modest following. Being added to a playlist with under 10,000 followers is still some serious traffic headed your way.
Time to Write Some Messages
Now that you’ve got a handful of playlists noted down, we’re ready to start sending messages to their owners. Pull up one of the playlists and go ahead and click on the curator’s name. This will pull up their profile. If you’ve targeted a specific playlist account, it’s often possible that contact information will be immediately available for you. If the playlist is smaller, you might need to do a little bit of internet searching to find the owner. Typically, a quick Google or Facebook search will allow you to find a way to contact the Playlist owner.
The next thing is to formulate a message. The key here is to be humble. Don’t just throw them a link to your music and ask them to feature it. This overly bold approach is most likely to result in you being ignored. Instead, take the time to show them that you appreciate what they are doing for musicians like yourself. Explain that you follow their playlist and you think that some of your music might be well suited to it if they are willing to take a listen. Being polite and treating these people with respect for what they do is going to make a much better impression than flooding their inbox with blunt requests.
In my experience with trying to get your music featured on playlists, rejection can occur way more often than acceptance. You might shoot out 100 messages only to hear back from 1 Playlist. This is OK though and that one playlist is a great first step onto the ladder. The more you get featured and the more popular you become as an artist, the more people will want to feature your music. If you’re attracting plays, you become attractive to playlist curators.
Submission Sites & Playlist Pluggers
As well as the free and personal approach, there is, of course, a way to get featured at a cost. This is typically going to be done with user-generated playlists. I wouldn’t recommend attempting to pay-off Spotify’s own staff!
Sites like Fiverr are a hotbed for paid featuring opportunities. There’s plenty of gigs going that claim that they will feature your music on Spotify playlists with a huge following. I’d imagine that there is some truth in these. I would also suggest that the likelihood of success is also based on the quality of your music. Bad recordings and poorly formed songs just won’t do well. Equally, these playlists are going to be inundated with requests. As such, it’s fairly probable your music will get buried under everyone else. If you’ve failed to garner even a tiny amount of interest on your own, it’s unlikely a $5-$10 Gig is going to make you famous overnight.
There are also dedicated sites that offer special consultation in tailoring your needs to the playlists that they control. These tastemakers are likely to charge a lot more (I couldn’t find an exact price without a consultation) however the likelihood of this paying offer is great than that of a Fiverr gig. Again, quality is key but at least you’re less likely to be lumped into a playlist with thousands of other songs.
Spending Serious Money
Getting onto the serious playlists is going to cost you some big bucks. Ex-Billboard journalist Glenn Peoples has provided sources citing:
$2,000 for a playlist with tens of thousands of fans… $10,000 for the more well-followed playlists.
For the amount that it’s likely to return, you’re probably not going to want to spend this much. Of course, there is always the chance that your music could seriously take off. If we are being realistic though, how often does that happen?
Cooperating with Other Independent Artists
With the popularity and power of social media, many small, independent artists are taking it upon themselves to build networking opportunities with their peers. As I’ve said before, collaboration is key. Reddit, in particular, is a great place to find groups of like-minded individuals who are all about helping each other grow their fan bases.
Once upon a time, Spotify required you to have at least 250 followers before you could verify your account and make it official. This spawned regular threads on popular forums where artists could have their music added to a Spotify playlist and every member would follow each other. Today, Spotify has removed this qualification from their verification process. Any artist can become verified, assuming they meet the requirements.
However, this has left rather large Spotify playlists for new musicians to be heard and build a small initial following. They are great for getting feedback on your new works as well as being a place to network within the music industry. An all too important aspect of music today. Equally, these smaller playlists that were formed in genre-specific circles can be a fantastic way to curate niche markets. If you find your music is a bit ‘out-there’, these smaller playlists might be just the thing you’re looking for.
Spotify playlists are of huge importance to the music market today. They allow people to get recognised for their music and promote their new works. They also help to bring independent artists to the foreground of popular music. With some time and effort, you can reach out to playlist owners and get your works heard by thousands. Equally, if you’ve got the money and not the time, there are paid options out there to get your music featured. Use this experience as a way to build industry friends and network with the right people. You never know who could end up pushing you into the public eye in a big way!