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Spotify playlists: a simple way to get creative, curate a music collection, and promote your music to new and existing fans

[This article is about promoting your music through Spotify playlists that you create yourself. For information about getting your songs added to other peoples’ playlists, click HERE.]

Last month I performed more than sixty different songs across seven nights at a residency in Portland, Oregon. In preparation, I’d actually learned (or relearned) more than eighty five songs. It was fun to dust off so many older cover songs and originals, and to try out a bunch of new songs too.

A surprising number of people made it out multiple times that week (the trophy goes to someone who was there five nights) but since no attendee was likely to be there all week long, CD Baby’s VP of Marketing Kevin Breuner suggested I make a Spotify playlist of all the songs from all the nights, both covers and originals, to share for those who felt like they might’ve missed out.

So this morning I did.

I put together all the songs I could find on Spotify, and created this playlist of original indie-pop songs, David Bowie covers, Harry Nilsson tunes, Katy Perry, Danny Kaye, Erik Satie, old American standards, and many more:

Making your own playlists

There are multiple ways to create playlists these days, and tools like Soundrop make it simple to sync the playlists you create in Spotify with Deezer and YouTube too.

But for the purposes of this article, I kept it simple and created my playlist within Spotify’s desktop app on my Mac.

Click HERE for instructions if you’re using iPhone, iPad, Windows, Android, etc.

What kinds of playlists can you create?

Really, it’s limited only by your imagination. Here’s a few options though:

* Set lists of your shows (including originals and covers)

* Music by your influences (plus your own songs that best highlight that influence)

* Music you’re listening to on tour (can be changed daily)

* Songs arranged according to mood or theme (with a handful of your songs sprinkled in)

* Your greatest hits

Remember, collaborative playlists are also a great way to get your fans involved: they can weigh in on song choices for future shows, recommend some new artists you should check out, etc. And you can always team up with other artists to cross-promote your music: you put their songs on your playlist, and ask them to include a song of yours on their next playlist.

So WHEN should you be building and sharing new playlists? Well, because playlists are so flexible thematically, you really can create a new one whenever there’s an upcoming event you’d like to promote (in a somewhat passive way): an album release, tour, important show, video launch, when your musical heroes are coming through town, etc.

[Read about how Perrin Lamb earned $56k from one song on Spotify, thanks to a prominent playlist placement.]

Creating your Spotify playlist

1. Come up with a theme!

Think about how you want to organize songs. This decision will effect lots of stuff to follow: the audience, whether your playlist will find listeners through search/keywords or if it’s intended primarily for your existing fans, the length of the playlist, etc.

2. Once you’ve opened Spotify, click “New Playlist”

Click the "+" icon.
Click the “+” icon.

3. Name your playlist and give it a description/image

Think about searchability, keywords, and writing an enticing description…

Naming and describing a Spotify playlists

4. Figure out if the playlist should be collaborative

If you want your fans and fellow musicians to contribute to or edit your playlist, click the menu button to the right of the green “Play/Pause” button, then select “Collaborative Playlist” from the dropdown menu.

Collaborative playlists on Spotify

5. Choose the length

If your theme is ‘set lists’ (or in my case, the set lists of an entire residency) the length of your playlist is pretty much determined for you. But otherwise, I’d recommend keeping it to 10-15 songs, just because attention spans wane after about an hour.

6. Pick the songs

Now’s the fun part (and maybe you already did this before clicking to create the playlist): figure out what songs you want to feature. Then…

7. Make your mix

Search for the song on Spotify. Once found, you can add the song to your playlist by either dragging it into the playlist (in the left-hand sidebar) or click on the menu button, selecting “Add to Playlist” from the dropdown menu, and then choosing the playlist destination. Repeat this process for each song you want to add until it’s time to…

Adding songs to Spotify playlists

8. Share it!

You can either copy the playlist link for social sharing, embed the playlist on your website, or share directly from Spotify.

Collaborative playlists on Spotify

 

Here’s how it appears when you copy the playlist link directly into a Facebook post:

Sharing Spotify playlist from Facebook

Well, now my playlist is live. We’ll see how it does! Take a listen HERE. And if you’ve created a playlist around an interesting theme, feel free to share a link in the comments below.

Download our FREE guide — “Getting Your Songs on Spotify Playlists — with proven DIY strategies for playlist success.

 

In this article

Join the Conversation

  • This is such a creative idea and I wish I had seen more response from my own. I created a playlist for those who opted into my blog emai list. It was themed around my band’s single, About A Boy, and included songs that I thought were similar in sound or topic. Check it out for yourself! https://open.spotify.com/user/love_kristyn/playlist/6vJBOTRwI0TWy1pKLDhw6m

  • Jan Roland Hagberg

    https://open.spotify.com/user/dscboss/playlist/2jo0u6gvXhM8EuBEf4b7ha

    I made this collaborative playlist some years ago and did put one of my own tracks in. Nothing happened. A few weeks ago I added new songs. Two of mine and a lot of popular songs I like. I shared it on Spotify and social media + some fb groups. Not much happened. 13 followers and 3 very small acts (like myself) added their tracks. Now it’s dead again. I just don’t get how so many common users can get so many, many, many followers to their playlists. 🙂

  • JV

    Thanks Chris. I’m just starting to use Spotify to promote my music and this was very helpful. One question though: on a playlist I just set up, I’m not seeing the window you show in Step 3 above which allows you to put in a description and image. I’ve tried a bunch of different things but it’s just showing the name of the playlist. I also am trying to add an image to my account and cannot seem to figure that out. Do I need to upgrade to Premium perhaps?

  • I’d heard that you need a premium account to do that stuff, but… I don’t have a premium account, and it let me at least add an image and description. The customized playlist image for my playlist doesn’t display at the top of the playlist page while listening in the desktop app, however, but it does populate in social sites when I share the playlist.

    @ChrisRobley

  • I think the people who have a huge audience for their playlists are either doing a ton to build that audience (changing the songs daily or weeky, sharing it on social often, etc.) or they’re a band that already has a big fanbase. It’s not the type of thing you can just do overnight and expect big results. (Like almost everything else in this music world). But if you enjoy it, keep with it and the audience will increase.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Matthew Charles Montfort

    I lead the world music band Ancient Future, and we have four previous albums on a major label and don’t own the rights, so we can’t take all of our music off of Spotify to protest the extremely unsustainable royalty rates that don’t support the creation of new music. Further, the major label has us in the wrong genre, which has been hurting our ability to reach appropriate fans. So, for now, we are offering all of our independently released music on Spotify to counteract this and making playlists that place the music in appropriate world music genres. The most successful so far has been this Indian Guitar playlist, which made the Top 10 on MyPlaylistIsBetterThanYours: https://open.spotify.com/user/12151657655/playlist/14DMgO2ovFgSNVwIRQEI6J

  • Hey there! Glad to hear the conference wiped you out. Going to Nashville?

    So, if Charles didn’t write back via email, I’d suggest writing him… here! He left a comment in this post’s thread. Also, I’ve got plans to have him as a guest soon so he can share the wisdom.

    Thanks for the swipe up tip. Will check that out.

    And yes, I think a lot of that stuff was recorded. Not sure when we’ll post them, but that is part of the plan.

    Good holidays?

    @ChrisRobley

  • Can’t you just raise your debt ceiling every 6 months? ; )

    Also, my mistake. Charles’ comment is on THIS thread: http://diymusician.cdbaby.com/music-promotion/become-verified-artist-spotify-first-250-followers/

    I got a copy of Ari’s book last week. Looks good, but holidays (and Springsteen’s “Born to Run” book) have delayed my reading it.

    @ChrisRobley

  • Thanks Freddy! Glad the article was helpful. Thanks for the link to those other tips too. I’m checking it out now.