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How To Get More Streams on Spotify as an Indie Artist

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Estimated reading time: 7 minutes

Whether you are a musician, producer, PR person, or indie record label, the question of how to get more streams on Spotify is one you have probably tried to answer. With very little income coming from Spotify streaming — not to mention Spotify’s new scheme to steal your revenues — it’s understandable that you wouldn’t want to spend too much time on learning how it works and might look for shortcuts.

But as much as you may want instant success with minimal effort, resist the temptation to purchase fake streams or any kind of other paid short cut. In the long run, this will only hurt you and your music, and it could get you banned for life from the platform. Here are a few suggestions on how to get your music on Spotify and increase your streams and followers organically for maximum return on your time investment.

1. Verify your artist profile

Setting up your Spotify artist profile helps optimize the platform for your music. The data and backend tools available to artists through this portal will help you learn who your audience is and increase your ability to target and find them, thus increasing streams. Your engagement with the artist Spotify profile will also engage the algorithm which will boost engagement with your music.

Professional imagery

Like on any other social media platform, it’s important to have high quality pictures and cover art to feature on your Spotify artist profile. All images should reflect you, your musical style, and how you’d like to present yourself. Make sure all your social media platforms have the same look and feel; this is especially important while you are still building a following.

Compelling bio

Likewise, your artist bio should be engaging, professionally written, and be a verbal reflection of your overall style and presentation. Your unique story and perspective are useful tools to promote your act and your music.

2. Launch your music release strategy in advance

Many artists skip this step to their great detriment. In many ways, your release strategy for your new music releases is just as important as the music you’re making, especially if you are trying to figure out how to get more streams on Spotify.

With the enormous amount of music being released these days, you need every possible edge to stand out from the background noise. It’s important to actually have a strategy so you can build momentum for your new release, and then it’s crucial to execute that strategy with plenty of lead time before the actual release day.

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3. Use Spotify pre-saves

One important way to build momentum around a new release is to offer listeners the chance to pre-save it on Spotify. A pre-save means that Spotify users will have the song or album saved to their personal library instantly at the moment of release. Once pre-saved to users’ libraries, your music will get a boost as the Spotify algorithm and playlist editors are looking for tracks which users are saving to their libraries and adding to their playlists; streams alone are not the only consideration when Spotify’s humans and algorithm choose to boost tracks.

4. Maximize playlisting

Being featured on Spotify playlists will exponentially help increase your streams. There are two types of playlists: user-created playlists and curated editorial playlists. User-created lists include the ones you and your friends/fans create yourselves; keep in mind that you should only add only one song from each artist (including you) as the algorithm prioritizes these playlists ostensibly to keep people from padding them with their own songs. There are also independent playlist curators with a large reach who accept submissions.

Editorial playlists are created by Spotify; you can submit your music to them through the Artist Profile. If accepted, your music will reach a wide audience — but keep in mind, you must submit to most of them a week or more before your release date for playlist consideration. There are as many esoteric kinds of playlists as you can think of — “Songs to Scream in The Car,” “Music for Cat Stress and Anxiety” — and it’s not a bad idea to try to tailor your material to them.

5. Promote on all socials

The more you share your Spotify links on social media, the more chance you’ll have that people will stream your music. This is one solid music promotion approach to get more streams on Spotify — a no brainer, right? It’s important to not just post your music links when promoting on social media but to be aware that you are also telling a story. Use the video features of platforms like Facebook, Instagram, and TikTok to vary your presentation and keep things interesting.

Make sure you are responding and interacting as much as promoting, as social media promotion is a two-way conversation. Some suggest not spreading yourself thin and focusing only on one streaming platform at a time to the exclusion of others; my advice is to focus on what you can handle timewise and experiment with promoting your Spotify links in their own unique posts to see if it boosts streams and engagement in the app.

6. Explore Spotify’s promotion tools

Spotify for Artists has a plethora of analytical tools to help you learn about your listeners. It tracks data over time based on location, demographics, monthly listeners, songs streamed, and playlists that have added your music. You can see how your promotional efforts pay off in real time as you can see your stream information for the last day, week, month, and from your original sign-up date.

While Spotify doesn’t provide a way to connect with your listeners directly, quite a lot of information is available to help you better identify who they are. If you have an advertising budget, Spotify also offers paid ads and a program called Marquee that is a full-screen recommendation for new releases.

You can use the information the analytics provide to guide your marketing strategies on and off Spotify. If you notice several Gen Z people have been listening, for example, you might want to grow your social media presence by putting your music on TikTok. If you have a mass of listeners in St. Louis, you might want to think about playing a concert there. If the playlists your listeners add you to favor certain other artists, you might want to record or perform a cover of that artist to increase their excitement and engagement.

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7. What to avoid during streaming

For all the advice of what you should do to get more streams on Spotify, here are a few things to avoid.

Fake streams

It is tempting to want to game the system, but this will only hurt you in the long run. Not only do you risk getting banned from the platform for life as Spotify has algorithms specifically aimed at detecting fake streams, but the gains you would make from artificially boosting your numbers would be minimal. Inflated Spotify plays and streams aren’t going to get you a record deal and will only cost you money that would be better spent doing the real work of building a fanbase.

Mass streaming

Mass streaming is setting a song to play repeatedly to boost the stream numbers. Fans of certain pop music such as K-pop and Taylor Swift have organized streaming campaigns aimed at boosting the numbers of their artists’ new singles all over the world; South Korea has launched multiple investigations into chart manipulation based on mass streaming practices. The ethics of this are still unclear — is it just a passionate fan base boosting their artist or is it gaming of the system? As an independent artist, you want to build an actual fan base and avoid any short cuts; the “1,000 true fans” model should be your goal.

Fake playlists

Fake playlists are set up by unscrupulous curators who artificially boost streams to make money. If the number of saves and followers is significantly lower than the number of streams, the playlist is probably fake.

A Bulgarian scammer was caught rigging the system with a fake playlist that outperformed the major labels’ playlists; the playlist had fewer than 1,800 followers with 1,200 listeners per track but was generating millions of streams and landed at #35 on Spotify’s global top 100 playlist chart. While this scammer didn’t technically break any laws, Spotify quickly instituted protocols to prevent this from happening again.

The moral is that there are no shortcuts for learning how to get more streams on Spotify. At the end of the day, you know that you’re putting out great music, and the numbers will eventually follow. If you want to be a musician and not a scammer, you’ll need to build your audience the right way — slow and steady with consistent effort.

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Chris Huff

About Chris Huff

Chris Huff has been a professional singer, multi-instrumentalist, songwriter, and producer for over 25 years. He has worked as a sideman with Peter Yarrow (Peter, Paul, and Mary), Echo and the Bunnymen, Chuck Hammer (David Bowie, Lou Reed), and Tom Kitt (Broadway composer of Next To Normal). Chris also wrote liner notes for David Bowie’s Live And Well CD, and his full-length album, 'bout Time is available on iTunes.

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