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Are you being held back on Spotify by these three bad habits?

Even as streaming becomes the dominant means of accessing music, the streaming world can still feel like a new frontier to many musicians — and how you get your music noticed on platforms like Spotify often defies conventional wisdom (or at least the conventional wisdom of the old music industry).

A recent panel discussion at the BIME conference about “Developing New Artists in the Digital Age” sheds some light on three areas where many musicians are going wrong. I’ll summarize their advice below, or you can also listen to CD Baby’s Kevin Breuner and I talk about this same topic in episode #198 of The DIY Musician Podcast: “3 things that will hurt your music on Spotify.”

1. You worry about “vanity metrics”

Your play count doesn’t matter if nobody is adding your songs to their playlists or sharing with friends. Just like with YouTube, where average watch-time is more important than views, ENGAGEMENT is key on Spotify.

I’ve seen musicians streaming their own music on repeat to boost their play stats. It’s a bad idea, firstly, because if your user activity is public, we can see you doing it and that just looks lame. Second, you can get penalized for it. One friend even had his music removed from Spotify because they caught him trying to game the system, and I just heard about another notable musician whose single was removed from Spotify because he’d paid a click-farm service to generate “guaranteed” plays.

I say there’s no shame in having a small audience. So instead of worrying about your play count, find ways to encourage your modest following to actually engage with your music on Spotify.

2. You’re paying too much attention to curated playlists

Curated playlists are great, and getting a song added to a popular playlist can have a huge impact. We’ve even written a whole guide with strategies for building your Spotify resumé so you’re in a better position to attract attention from big playlist curators. But there’s something more important than curated playlists: algorithmic playlists like Release Radar and Discover Weekly.

Bryan Johnson, director of artists and management at Spotify UK, says “What we are seeing is that this playlist (Release Radar) is becoming a huge driver of streams – more than any of our programmed editorial playlists, which are the ones that everyone pitches for. It’s Release Radar which is driving listens.”

The more followers you have on Spotify, the more Release Radar playlists will surface your music. So the lesson is simple: get your fans to follow you on Spotify. That will be a smarter use of your time than pitching to popular playlisters, at least early on.

3. You’re not releasing enough music

If you want to do well on Spotify, you should release music more frequently.

Johnson explains, “We are dealing in attention economics. Gone are the days when you can just spend six or eight weeks prepping a single and then dropping it to see how it does. Now you can just drop the track and then work it. Because the track’s available, people want it; people want more and more tracks. The more individual tracks [you have], the more chances you are getting to present your music to people.”

And when working on bigger recording projects, you gotta remember: you can’t disappear between albums. You need to keep the momentum going. And that means “stockpiling” extra material to drop between larger EP or LP releases. “Be a few tracks ahead of yourself,” says Johnson.

Of course CD Baby can help you distribute all your music to Spotify (and Apple Music, iTunes, Amazon, Pandora Premium, and 100+ other digital music platforms). Plus, you’ll get YouTube monetization, sync licensing, daily trending reports from Spotify, and so much more. Distribute your music today!


Well, I think that summarizes the lessons from the New Artists in the Digital Age panel at BIME, but there are probably a few other bad streaming promotion habits they didn’t mention. If you have advice to add, please comment below.

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  • I think he means that you can put the track out, and then put your promo energy behind it (rather than spending 2 or 3 months gearing up to the release with a big radio push, tons of press, etc.) Like, instead of investing all that energy and money into a single launch, you can spend some of that time to create/release MORE material, and then invest in whatever songs seem to be catching on and gaining momentum. I mean,releasing a bunch of singles still takes planning, but you don’t have to go crazy on any one release beforehand. If a particular song seems to be performing well with your existing audience, you can bring out the big guns at that point to give it more reach.

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  • Mya

    How do you like using Jango? Does it work really well in that way?