Let's start with a closer look at Spotify playlists, because not all are created equal. There are three types of playlists on Spotify:
- Personalised playlists
- Editorial playlists
- User-generated playlists
Let's take a quick look at them, one by one:
1. Personalised playlists are the playlists that Spotify’s system/algorithm generates automatically. This includes the ‘Release Radar’ playlists, which contain newly released tracks by artists that a user follows, as well as other new tracks that Spotify thinks the user will like. The various ‘Radio’ playlists are also algorithmically generated based on the listening takes of Spotify’s users. There is no way to promote your track to a Personalised playlist.
2. Editorial playlists are generated bySpotify’s editorial team. These playlists include genre specific playlists as well as regionally specific playlists. Editorial Playlists can be identified by the fact that they are created by Spotify. The only ways to promote your track directly to Spotify’s editorial is by pitching your track via Spotify forArtists before release date, or by being lucky enough to meet someone who works on Spotify’s editorial team.
3. User-generated playlists are, as you might imagine, playlists that have been created bySpotify users. These include what are known as ‘Curated’ playlists, which are basically playlists created by Spotify users who are creating genre- or theme-specific playlists in order to promote themselves as playlist curators, or simply to promote their favorite music styles. Getting your tracks onto many of the right user-generated & curated playlists can really help spread your music to potential fans, as well as bring it to the attention of the Spotify editorial team and the Spotify algorithm. But getting on the wrong kind of playlists can do the exact opposite.
You can find even more information about different types of playlists in this article.
What is the difference between the "right" and the "wrong" kinds of curated playlists?
✅ The right kind of playlists to get your music onto are playlist that:
- Playlists that are popular with real Spotify users/followers
- Playlists that are filled with other tracks that fit well alongside the music that you are making. This could be in terms of the genre or mood of your music, but also the region or city that you come from.
Why are these playlists good for your music?
- These playlists promote your music to real people who are looking for a specific kind of music.
- These playlists present your music alongside other artists and tracks that are similar to your music in one way or another.
- The above two facts will inform both the Spotify algorithm and the Spotify editorial team of the kind of people who would like to be listening to the kind of music that you are making, as well as the kind of artists whose fans might like your music too.
❌ The wrong kind of playlists to get your music onto?
- Playlists that are being listened to by bots, or simply played on repeat to increase streams.
- Playlists with tracks that have many different genres or moods but with no obvious theme connecting them.
Why are these playlists bad for your music?
- They don’t promote your music to real people.
- They lead to your music being played many times alongside other tracks that are also not being streamed by real people.
The result of this is that they are continually sending bad information to the Spotify algorithm. Even if Spotify does not know that the playlists are bad, the Spotify algorithm is being taught that your music belongs alongside the other music on these playlists – but the reality is that none of the music on these playlists are being listened to by real people. So in the end, the algorithm will not be able to promote your music to real listeners. In the long term, the more 'bad' streams that you get, the harder it will be for 'good' streams to make an impression on how the algorithm recommends your music.
How do you promote your music to playlists?
You can either pitch you tracks to playlists yourself, or you can use a playlist promoter.
Do it yourself (DIY)
If you are going to do it yourself, these are three methods you could use:
1. Using the streaming platforms own playlist pitching tools:
Some of the streaming platforms allow you to pitch directly to their editorial teams via their own artist services/apps. Here are two examples including a link to the instructions:
2. Playlist pitching platforms:
Platforms such as Groover and SubmitHub allow you to pitch your track to many playlist curators at the same time. Pitching to a each curator will cost a certain amount of credits, and while they don’t all accept or publish your track, they do need to at least give you feedback – if not, your credit is returned. Note: as a MusicHub subscriber you get a discount for Groover and SubmitHub.
3. Contacting playlist curators directly:
Sometimes the best way to find the right playlists is to do your own research. Start by finding artists on Spotify whose mood or sound is similar to yours, and then go through the following checklist:
- Check their Spotify Artist Profiles, looking specifically at their 'Discovered on' section, which will have a list of their most effective playlist placements.
- Click on the artist’s 'About' section and look for the cities/countries where they are most popular. The stronger the economy of these countries (e.g. EU, North America, Japan, Korea, Australia), the more reputable their streams are likely to be.
- Make sure that artists with a high number of streams also have a high number of followers.
- Look at the other artists in their 'Fans also like' section. If many of these artists have many of the same artists in their 'Fans also like’ sections, it could be that they are all using the same playlist promoters to get higher streams from the wrong kind of playlists.
If all of the above checks out, take a look again at the 'Discovered on' section of the artist you are researching and dive deeper into the top playlists. Make sure the music in these playlists fits your music in terms of mood, genre, etc.Also do a quick check of the top artists in these playlists using the same criteria I mentioned above.
When you find a playlist that seems right for your music, you might find that the playlist curator provides their contact details in the playlist information. In these cases, you can simply contact the curator directly. Remember to keep your message short and sweet. Be polite and only include the most important information: a brief description of your music, a link to the track you are pitching, and the reasons that your music is a perfect fit for the playlist.
If the playlist curator leaves no contact details, you can always try googling the name of the playlist curator along with name of the playlist.
But if you don’t want to the playlist pitching work yourself, you might want to find yourself a playlist promoter.
Hiring a playlist promotor
Playlist promotors are individuals or companies that can act as a promo agent for your music, pitching it to various playlists. The benefits of using a playlist promoter is that they are working with playlists every day and as a result they can use their insights and connections to find the right playlists for your music. The downside of using playlist promoters is that, if you choose the wrong playlist promoter, you can end up on all the wrong kind of playlists.
So what should you look out for when choosing a playlist promoter? You can use the following guide as a checklist for making sure your playlist promoter is legit:
1. If promoter offers you the chance to 'Buy Streams', they should be completely avoided.
- Buying streams will simply tell Spotify’s algorithm that you are related mostly to the other artist who have also bought streams from that promoter (because the streams you all bought are coming from the same place)
- You will not be paid out by Spotify for these bought streams, and most likely not for your legitimate streams either, and there is good chance your account will be flagged as fraudulent.
2. Avoid promoters who guarantee you a specific amount of streams.
- Promoters who claim they can guarantee you a certain amount of streams (e.g. they sell packages as 50K streams) are most likely using fraudulent means to create those streams themselves.
- As with the first example, this method is likely to ruin your credibility with the algorithm and potentially flag your account for streaming fraud.
3. Don’t believe offers that seem a little far-fetched or too good to be true.
- Does a promoter have five-star ratings and reviews but no links to, or mentions of, real artist names? Only names like "Michael D"? Then they are probably selling fake streams. If a playlist promoter can’t provide a link to the artists that they have been working with then there is a good chance that those artists don’t actually exist.
- Does a promoter claim to work with Sony, Universal, or other major labels and artists? The big labels usually work with promotion companies who don’t need to brag about that fact in order to get smaller artists to sign up.
4. Does the playlist promoter have an imprint on their website?
- Playlist promoters who do not present legitimate business details on their website might not be legitimate themselves.
Learn more about why you should avoid suspicious offers, fake streams and streaming fraud in this article.
How to find good playlist promoters?
So now that you know what you should be looking for when it comes to choosing the right playlist promoter, how do you go about finding one? The answer to this is 1. Research, and 2. Check.
This is easy enough to do. Start by using Google to search for articles comparing different playlist promoters. Collect the details of any promoters that look interesting in a list or spreadsheet. Take note of the genres they work with, how much they charge, etc. It is also very useful to keep a note of how many times specific promoters appear in different articles. The more times a promoter appears, the higher chance of it being legitimate established service.
Smaller playlist promoters will also often write articles comparing themselves favorably with more established promoters in order to become linked with them in Google’s search algorithm, so always take note of who is publishing the articles you find.
Outside of this sort of research, it is always a good idea to asked other musicians about their personal experiences with playlist promoters and if they can make any recommendations.
Once you feel like you have a good list of options, head over to an independent review site such as Trustpilot and check how the various promoters have been rated. When doing this, it is always a good idea to check the 1-star reviews as well. Of course, there will always be unhappy customers with any services but what you are looking for here is how the promoter responds to negative reviews.A good promoter will have engaged with their unhappy customers and tried to explain the situation. Make sure to read a few good and bad reviews before deciding how you feel about the promoter.
How much does a playlist pitching campaign cost?
The cost of a promo campaign can vary greatly but in general there are two ways to think about how much you are paying: the total campaign cost, and how much you end up paying per stream. (Calculation formula: Cost of the campaign / streams generated by the campaign = cost per stream)
Most often, the upfront campaign cost is determined by how much you can afford. There are small campaigns available that will cost you between €20 - €50 or larger campaigns that can cost many hundreds of €’s. If you have a very small budget per release, it might be a good idea to try a different playlist promoter for each release and then decide which one is working the best for you. And even if you do have a larger budget, it could be worth your while to first test a few different promoters with smaller campaign, and then commit larger parts of your budget to the services that you feel are working best for you.
This is where it becomes important to be aware of your ‘cost-per-stream’ (the amount you spent divided by the amount of streams you received). This will help you to determine which services are giving you the best value for money.
Of course, even when you know your cost-per-stream, it is also a good idea to factor the quality of the playlist placements you received when deciding which services are providing you with the best return for your investment.
Getting placed on playlists has come an essential way of promoting your release, but getting onto the wrong playlist, or using the wrong playlist promoter, can do you more harm than good. So make sure that you take a little time to do the research so that you can find the right playlists for your music, or the right promoters who are going to help you legitimately grow your audience and fanbase.
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