Spotify is one of the most powerful tools in today’s modern music industry.
Being added to a playlist can skyrocket your success by exposing you to potential fans in your demographic on a grand scale. Plus, the more streams, the more revenue!
I’ve seen bands get asked to play festivals, score management, booking agents and even label interest literally through the success of Spotify.
It just proves that at the end of the day, it’s the music that matters. However many bands find the whole Spotify playlists thing confusing. Well, no more!
This cheat sheet is going to give you all the info you need to fully understand how Spotify playlists work, give you step-by-step instructions on how to apply for Editorial playlists and a bunch of tips and resources to help you on your way!
Today, Spotify is the most popular global audio streaming subscription service with 248m users, including 113m subscribers, across 79 markets. We are the largest driver of revenue to the music business today.Spotify.com
There are three types of Spotify playlists and can help get your band more exposure.
1: User/Listener created: Playlists that any Spotify user makes.
2: Algorithmic: Such as the “Discover Weekly” playlist that are created by the algorithm and is individual for everyone
3: Editorial: These are the playlists that are curated by people that work for Spotify and are generally the most desirable to be on because of that.
4: Personalised Editorial Playlist: These are a hybrid of Editorial and Algorithmic playlists. Read more about them here.
Note: This is not the same as distribution. You already need digital distribution set up at this point.
👉 Must be done on a desktop: Log in and follow the prompts.
👉 Song must be submitted at least 7 days in advance. But the more the better. 1 month out is ideal to give curators time to actually listen to your song.
👉 Fill in as much data about the song as possible (video on this below): This helps if an editor is looking for a particular mood etc.
👉 You can only submit one song at a time and it must be unreleased: Once the song drops you can submit another.
👉 Have your release date set to Friday: This increases the chance of being added to the New Music Friday and Release Radar Playlists.
👇Check out the Video Below on How to Submit to Spotify Playlists 👇
You may be wondering whether bands can contact playlist curators directly? Firstly, it’s important to recognise the difference between Editorial Playlists and User Generated/Listener playlists.
As discussed above, Editorial Playlists are put together by Spotify staff and you apply through your Spotify for Artists app.
However there are ‘branded playlists,’ which are just User Generated playlists put together by a ‘brand’ like a label, media outlet, influencer or tastemaker.
You can contact these ‘branded’ playlists directly but often they have a formal submission process – some of which require a fee. Call it ‘Pay-to-be-Played.’
If you have a PR company, sometimes they will look after the submission process for you, but it’s always a good idea to be proactive regardless.
If you’re a rock/metal band, there are some cool branded playlists listed here (https://haulixdaily.com/2019/05/spotify-rock-playlists-contact).
Some companies also have ‘Promotion Packages’ which look a little dodgy if you ask me so please be careful. I’d rather you invest your money into proper PR which is a more long-term strategy.
But many are free and just like the submission process for the Editorial Playlists, you just need to fill in some info about the song, which is why it’s important to get this right.
There are also services like Submit Hub that allow you to easily submit music to curators.
Submit hub works on a system of credits and whilst you don’t have to pay, it’s much more efficient to just pay for credits (100 credits is $80) so you can submit to more blogs at a time.
But what about playlists without a formal submission process?
👉 Research: The first thing to do would keep a running list of playlists and info about who runs them etc. in a shared document.
Getting on playlists that feature similar artists is the goal – not any random playlist that will have you (this is a waste of time).
One goal could be to get on playlists that feature other local up and coming artists as it establishes your band as part of the ‘scene,’ which bodes well in drawing your ideal audience to you.
👉 Engage: Add these playlists on social media, engage with them (genuinely), don’t just slide up into those DMs asking to be added. The music industry is all about relationships, in fact I released a podcast recently all about making industry connections which can be applied to this very topic!
👉 Say ‘thank you’: When you are included on any User Created playlist, big or small, make it known that you appreciate it (if you can find a way to). In this industry, being grateful and having manners goes a long way!
Organic Traction Helps:
The best way to increase your chances of getting on a Spotify Playlist is by getting as much traction on your other songs organically as possible. This means setting up Spotify Pre-Save campaigns prior to tracks being released and going ham on the promotion of this so editors and curators can see the demand.
Tools for setting up Spotify Pre-Save Campaigns:
Note: Refer to ‘Resources’ section below for help with this! 👇
Create Your Own Playlists:
I recommend creating your own playlists on Spotify. I like to create playlists with other local artists with a similar demographic to shows you support the scene.
Some cool local artists that do this are Redhook and Down For Tomorrow.
You can compare your analytics to other artists on the Spotify For Artists Desktop app which can be useful and interesting. Often as artists we think we are not doing as well as everyone else but many times we are exactly where we should be or occasionally doing much better than we think!
But please remember there will always be people in front and behind you on your journey. Never get discouraged when looking at the numbers they’re only tools to track progress, nothing to do with the quality of your music or your worth as a band.
If you’re not where you want to be, really look at your marketing.
At the bottom of this page I’ve left some info about the Being in a Band Membership which is a membership for bands who want to turn music into a full-time career! 👇
You Need Good Production:
Ensure you have excellent production on your tracks. High production value is absolutely taken into consideration by Editorial playlist selectors.
That means perhaps go with a professional producer rather than Larry down the road who will do it for cheap. Please.
Song Length Matters!
Songs around 3:30 in length or less will have a better chance of getting onto playlists. In fact, Spiritbox didn’t get on any editorial playlists despite hundreds of thousands of streams for three years after they released their song ‘Holy Roller’ which is around 2:30 in length!
Don’t Get Hung up on the Editorial Playlists:
If you don’t get onto an Editorial playlist straight away, don’t stress, it may still be discovered later!
I’ve heard numerous stories of bands not getting any editorial traction on their singles but as soon as the EP drops BOOM a bunch of songs get playlisted!
Usually the overall streams will jump up once you drop an EP/album too, even if you’ve released a bunch of songs as singles prior.
Our editors are always looking for the hottest and freshest talent. You can make sure you stay on their radar by building your fanbase and engaging with your audience on Spotify (and beyond – through tours, festivals, and social media).Spotify for Artists
Algorithmic Playlists can be Powerful:
I can’t stress this enough! My own band, The Last Martyr, received over 80k streams on our first EP in around 6 months. Over half of those streams came from ONE SONG (Fear) because it went off on the algorithmic playlists.
So again, don’t be discouraged if you don’t get on the editorial playlists.
Stats from the singles you release all count towards the overall stats of an EP or album. But stats from a previous single also bode well in playlist selection.
You need to release at least 2 or 3 singles prior to an EP and even more if you’re dropping an album. We’re living in a singles market after all.
The more singles you can release, the more chances you have to drive people to Spotify!
In a time when the market is more oversaturated than ever, it can feel hard to break through the noise and stand out enough to capture the attention of potential fans and the music industry.
As musicians, one of our biggest struggles is to just get our music heard.
Whether that be by potential fans, the media or would-be manages, booking agents, record labels or anyone else important to the long-term success of our careers.
The Being in a Band Membership is a monthly membership designed to give musicians the knowledge and tangible action steps they need to take their band to the next level.
Each month you get:
✔️ A Masterclass / Mini Course
✔️ Live group Q&A call for personalised feedback
✔️ Access to a private Facebook Community
✔️ Discounts off coaching & courses
This is by far the most cost-effective way of working for me. Get immediate access to over 15 hours of educational content as soon as you sign up!
The Being in a Band Membership will give you the knowledge and support you need to succeed in 2021 and beyond.
If you have any questions about the membership or want to provide feedback about the Spotify Cheatsheet hit me up at firstname.lastname@example.org!