Getting on a Spotify playlist — or any streaming playlist — requires a strategy and a plan. Here’s some advice on what to do (and what NOT to do).
I hate to break the news to you, but your Spotify playlist strategy might suck.
I spoke with Mike Warner, author of the book Work Hard Playlist Hard, and we identified three main reasons why your Spotify playlist strategy might need some work.
1. You focus solely on submitting to playlists, not promoting yourself
Artists who focus on nothing but playlists as their strategy will find that, if you don’t get on a playlist, your journey ends there.
Yes, getting on a playlist is great, it’s a good look, and it can help drive more listeners and more fans to you. But it goes beyond filling out the submission forms for editorial playlists on Spotify For Artists and Amazon Music For Artists. Once you’ve done that, there there’s so much more you can do on social platforms to bolster your efforts.
Post videos on TikTok, share your artwork on Instagram, tell people about it on Twitter. Start looking into pre-save campaigns. There’s a lot of work you can do that can help you to get onto a playlist beyond just submitting those editorial forms.
2. You shoot for the biggest playlists
Getting on an editorial playlist — for an artist at any stage — is hard to land. I can understand why you see the importance in this, everyone wants to get on New Music Friday or Today’s Top Hits, but the reality is that artists can start on other playlists before they end up on these. Don’t ignore user-generated playlists.
One way you can execute this is to go to whatever streaming platform you use, look at an artist who has music similar to yours, identify the playlists they are currently on, and then look at playlists that are not. editorial. In these cases, you’ll see a username. Check into that user, look at their profile picture. You may even be able to do a quick image search and find that person. Then, reach out to them.
We could spend hours talking about outreach, but the short version is, the shorter the message, the more likely you will get a response.
Tell them exactly why you’re reaching out. Then, when you get permission, send them your track. That may lead to you getting onto these smaller playlists, which in turn will get you noticed and can lead to larger playlists in the future. Don’t just bank on getting on a large editorial playlist — there’s a lot of lower-hanging fruit that are easier to land and that can help you build momentum.
3. You pay to get onto playlists
Do not pay to get on a playlist. Do not buy streams. I’ve seen artists have to completely start again because their music got removed. Their distributor wouldn’t work with them anymore, their artist name was blocked, and they basically had to start an entire new project.
So, that little moment where you spent some money thinking that you were just going to boost your numbers, for whatever reason, you may have had good intentions and you weren’t aware, but that can lead to your music getting taken down and can harm you long-term. You won’t recoup the money you spent and it may actually end up costing you a lot more down the road.
So, do not buy streams. If anyone guarantees a playlist add, take this warning: Do not engage with them. Especially if they’ve never even heard your song and they’re ready to place your song in their playlist for money — just don’t do it.
If you’re unsure, ask other artists. You’re going to find artists with horror stories who’ve had this same experience. Just don’t do it.
Want more music career advice? Don’t just read it… watch the videos on Bobby Borg’s YouTube channel.
Bobby Borg is the author of Music Marketing For The DIY Musician (Second Edition), Business Basics For Musicians (Second Edition), and The Five Star Music Makeover (published by Hal Leonard Books). Get these books at any fine online store in physical or digital format. Learn more at www.bobbyborg.com.
My overnight success was 15 years in the making
How to promote your record release
Sell your CDs online: Stake a tent at Bandcamp
Promoting a Spotify playlist with Instagram Stories ads
How to get played on streaming services and playlists