How to get your music on Spotify playlists

Spotify Followed Artists, spotify playlists

Playlists are the new mixtapes. People of all ages use music to express themselves and curate a personal soundtrack to life that others are often encouraged to use. In the age of Spotify and Apple Music, the same goes for brands. There are hundreds of brands curating playlists crafted to represent a certain mood or aesthetic, and there are millions of people engaging with their selections every week.

In fact, placement on the right streaming playlist can do more for an artist than any blog or news publications because an appearance on a popular playlist provides income and exposure to the artist. Even if everyone who subscribes to a playlist only hears a song once, the artist behind that song could see a substantial boost in plays and streaming revenue.

With this in mind, it should come as no surprise that many up and coming artists are now trying their best to get the attention of playlist curators and digital influencers. There are even a few PR firms that specialize in playlist promotion, while other firms have begun adding such services to their coverage plans.

The simple truth is that everyone, including you and the artists hiring playlist promoters, is competing for the same spots. There is no magic formula for getting your music on Spotify playlists ahead of the competition, but there are several ways to improve your chances of getting noticed.

It all starts with an algorithm

Spotify is a tech company at the end of the day, and being a tech company Spotify knows its own data often tells them more than any artist or promoter could. Spotify playlist curators consider total fans in their algorithm for popularity, as well as the number song skips on your music versus those who play the tracks in full. They also consider how many users have you on playlists and whether or not your account is verified. Spotify is tracking everything its users do on the platform, so assume every time they engage with your music it changes the chances of being considered for a playlist. That might be a bit overwhelming, but it’s nonetheless true.

Here are a few additional tips for improving your chances of playlist inclusion:

Ask your fans for help

There is no shame in asking your fans to help you gain exposure. Encourage your fans to follow you’re on Spotify, save your songs, and include you on their personal playlists. Ask them to share playlists they’ve created with you, then choose the best and share those with your other fans. Use this approach to build a community of people who are brought together because they decided to enjoy your music on Spotify and your followers will feel connected to your cause. They will see the success of your band as being a necessity for the community they’ve now joined to thrive.

Become a verified artist

Get Spotify for Artists and take your presence on the world’s most popular subscription streaming service into your own hands. Becoming a verified artist will give you access to stats, including listener information, and allow you to customize your profile with everything from custom playlists, to tour dates, merchandise, and more.

Ask bands to help (and help them in return)

Spotify allows verified to create playlists that exist on their profiles alongside their top songs. While all artists should include a few of their own tracks on these mixes, most will also include songs from their close friends and tour companions. Reach out to the artists you know and ask them to use your material. In exchange, promise to use their songs on your upcoming playlists.

Avoid Playlist Promotion scams

As word about how playlists can influence an artist’s career has spread there has been a rash of new promotion and PR companies promising to get young talent on the biggest playlists. While it’s true some of these firms may have contacts with playlist curators, the fact of the matter is they are (most likely) unable to do anything more than you could. They will email your songs the same way you would, with messaging similar to what you might say. Don’t waste your money thinking someone has the ‘magic network’ needed for playlist inclusion because it does not exist.

Tell your story

A good way to raise engagement with your music is to share the story(s) that goes with it. For example, if your latest single was inspired by a specific time or experience in your life, you should make the story of that happening available to fans and use it to promote the song. Consumers love a good narrative, and if you can build one using your music, your fans will be champing at the bit for each new release.

Research. Research Research.

There are thousands of public playlists in existence. Find popular user-generated playlists and seek out the people (or brands) behind them. Pitching your music to popular genre playlists can be a great way to make fans and network with other industry hopefuls.

Think outside the box

You know everyone, and their mother is vying for a place on Spotify’s biggest playlists. Pitching the curators will only get you so far regardless of how good you are or how catchy your latest single may be. To really stand out you need to make a splash in the world outside Spotify. If you find a way to make a viral video, or perhaps you do something that starts trending on Twitter, the people at Spotify will take notice. You don’t have to market to them specifically to get their attention. You just have to be good enough to make people give a damn about what you’re doing. If you can do that, everything else will fall into place.

James Shotwell

James Shotwell is the Director of Customer Engagement at Haulix and host of the company's podcast, Inside Music. He is also a public speaker known for promoting careers in the entertainment industry, as well as an entertainment journalist with over a decade of experience. His bylines include Rolling Stone, Alternative Press, Substream Magazine, Nu Sound, and Under The Gun Review, among other popular outlets.