Getting your song on a Spotify playlist, an Apple Music playlist — or any streaming platform playlist — requires a strategic plan.
I hate to break the news to you, but your Spotify playlist placement strategy might suck.
I spoke with Mike Warner, author of the book Work Hard Playlist Hard, and we identified three main reasons why your approach to securing a song on Spotify curated playlists could be ineffective..
1. You focus solely on submitting your music for playlist consideration, but you neglect other methods of music promotion
Artists who focus on nothing but playlist placement 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 for your personal brand, it can drive more listeners to your artist profile, and it can grow your fan base. But music promotion goes beyond filling out the submission forms for editorial playlists on Spotify For Artists and Amazon Music For Artists. Once you’ve sent your playlist submission to an editorial team, there’s so much more you can do on social media platforms to bolster your efforts.
Post videos on TikTok, share your artwork on Instagram, tell people about your music on Twitter. Start looking into pre-save campaigns, which is a great way to add new music releases to your followers’ libraries. There’s a lot of work you can do as an independent artist that can help get you onto a curated playlist other than just submitting those forms to an editorial team.
2. You shoot for the biggest editorial playlists while overlooking independent Spotify curators
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 their song on New Music Friday or Today’s Top Hits, but don’t underestimate the value of user-generated playlists. The reality is that artists can start on smaller playlists developed by independent curators before they end up on an official Spotify playlist.
One way you can introduce your music to independent playlist curators is by simply reaching out to them. In the Spotify app (or whatever streaming platform you use), identify an artist within your genre who shares a similar style of music as you. Find the playlists they are currently on that are not editorial but are curated by a listener. Look into their Spotify profile and do a quick search of their profile. Once you figure out a way to contact them, send a message.
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 the playlist owner exactly why you’re reaching out. Introduce yourself a an independent artist, mention how your music might align with their tastes, and ask them to give your song a listen. 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 Spotify editorial playlist — there’s a lot of lower-hanging fruit that are easier to land to 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 from a playlist for violating terms and conditions. Their music distribution service wouldn’t work with them anymore, their artist profile was blocked, and they basically had to start an entirely new project.
So, that little moment where you spent some money thinking that you were just going to boost your numbers? You may have had good intentions and you weren’t aware, but that can lead to your music getting taken down and can harm your career 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 placement for a fee, take this warning: Do not engage with them, especially if they’ve never even heard your song and they’re ready to place your it in their playlist.
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.
How to get on a Spotify playlist
Now that you know what common pitfalls to avoid when it comes to submitting your music for playlist consideration, focus on broadening your approach with a comprehensive music promotion strategy.
While submitting tracks to an editorial team can benefit your chances of securing a spot on a popular playlist, don’t rely on it solely for recognition. Supplement your efforts with an active social media presence, using platforms like TikTok, Instagram, and Twitter to expand your reach beyond submission forms.
Additionally, don’t fixate too heavily on major editorial playlists. Make sure you’re reaching out to independent playlist curators whose tastes align with your genre or who feature a Spotify artist with a similar style as your own. Building your outreach efforts towards these user generated playlists builds a sustainable audience, creating a stepping stone for future recognition.
Finally, avoid paying for playlist placements or streams — it can lead to serious consequences. Stick to organic strategies by building connections within the music community.
Want more music career advice? Don’t just read it … watch the videos on Bobby Borg’s YouTube channel.