Success on Spotify is largely determined by your playlist placements.
Before you spend much time thinking about getting your music onto Spotify playlists, you’ll want to make sure you’re a verified artist on Spotify, which is simple to do (and no longer requires that you have at least 250 followers on the platform).
You don’t NEED to be verified in order to get your songs added to Spotify playlists, of course, but it definitely helps demonstrate to playlist curators that they should take your music more seriously. If you’re active on the platform, they’ll assume you’re also more likely to promote their playlists should they feature your music.
If you aren’t verified as an artist on Spotify yet, go HERE.
Six Spotify Playlist Types
1. Editorial Playlists
These are playlists like RapCaviar where the music is selected by Spotify’s in-house editorial team. These playlists can also have millions of followers.
Because they are Spotify’s most powerful editorial tools, official playlists get promoted like crazy within the platform. No big surprise: they’re also the most coveted placements, so you and every other artist on the planet wants in.
So how do you get the attention of the Spotify editorial team? Well, the old “who-you-know” methods still apply: connected publicists, managers, labels, distributors, digital promotion experts, etc. — people in the industry that have the ear of a Spotify playlist curator or two.
But there’s another way, one that doesn’t require you to have connections or a big promotion budget: start DIY, get your songs onto lots of smaller playlists, and begin teaching Spotify’s algorithm to be on the lookout for more song activity from you.
The more activity your songs get, and in particular, the more your songs are added to playlists, the more likely it becomes that Spotify’s editorial team will take notice.
This playlist activity also increases your chances of being added to…
2. Algorithmic Playlists
Spotify automatically generates two personalized playlists for users:
- Release Radar is updated every Friday with up to two hours of new songs and relevant tracks from artists that you’ve shown interest in as a listener on Spotify.
- Discover Weekly is updated with fresh music every Monday, with songs chosen according to your own listening history and that of other users that like similar music.
The more followers you have on Spotify, the more times someone saves your song to their queue, library, or playlists, the better your song’s chances of being added to either of these personalized playlists:
This is why it’s crucial to get your fans to follow you on Spotify since your releases can be automatically added to your followers’ Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists. The more followers you have, the more fans who’ll never miss out on your new tunes. The more people who enjoy a new release early on, the more Spotify will serve that music up on more algorithmic playlists.
3. Personalized Editorial Playlists
These playlists are a hybrid of sorts. Spotify combines the best of algorithmic and editorial playlists for a listening experience that is uniquely yours.
With personalized editorial playlists, we could both be listening to Classic Punk but have a separate playlist order or set of songs altogether. An awesome feature of these playlists is the ability to create a custom shareable link through Spotify for Artists that puts your song at the tip-top when fans listen.
4. Branded Playlists
These are Spotify playlists managed by third parties, such as Pitchfork, or major-label playlists such as Topsify.
Most branded playlists will try to strike a balance between established artists and emerging artists as a way of achieving tastemaker stature — so don’t count yourself out of the running for a branded playlist, even if you’re not signed to or otherwise directly affiliated with the entity that created the playlist.
5. Personal Playlists
Just what they sound like: you create them, you promote them, and (assuming you’re verified) you feature them on your artist discography page!
You’ll have plenty of chances to create playlists using your own music (Greatest Hits, set lists, etc.). But it’s also good to curate a list of other artists’ songs and then include one of your own songs in the bunch. That way your playlist can have a broader appeal beyond your existing audience, and you’ll still have a chance to make some new fans if they like your song.
The audience for your playlists is dependent on the reach of your promotion, the size of your social and email followings, how well you use keywords in the name and description of your playlists (for searchability), and selecting smart hashtags when you share the playlist on Instagram or Twitter.
Curating your own playlists can be great not only for connecting with existing fans, but for deepening your relationship with your music scene and other artists because you can trade playlist placements; “I put your song on my list — you put my song on yours.”
Which brings us to…
6. User Playlists
These could be playlists run by any of Spotify’s millions of users including other artists, bloggers, fans, and collaborating users.
Google “Spotify playlist” along with your genre and you’re bound to find dozens, if not hundreds, of really top-notch playlists that are curated by music enthusiasts who are happy to include lesser known artists in the mix.
For example, here is one of my playlists, “Lyrics in the Limelight”.
Please follow if you dig! Dig?
As always, be polite, follow their playlists, like them on social, engage first, and THEN make your song pitch. If they do add you to their playlist, thank them and share it like crazy. That will increase your chances of them adding another of your songs to their playlists in the future.
Which is the most important?
While most of the industry is focused on getting official playlist placements, algorithmic playlists are driving far more streams, according to Spotify UK’s Bryan Johnson, and THIS is really where DIY artists should be spending their energy.
I was really happy and appreciative to see my single “Collapsing Star” picking up some streams on two cool playlists with fairly sizeable follower-counts, IndieMono’s Top Alternative (31k+ followers) and WHPH’s Fresh Picks (5k+).
But guess what drove more cumulative streams? Yep, Release Radar.
What can artists do to increase their chances of appearing in algorithmic playlists?
- Build your Spotify following – Your followers on Spotify are the ones most likely to see your new music appear in their Release Radar playlist or in their weekly Release Radar email from Spotify. So get your fans to follow you on the streaming platform!
- Focus on good engagement-to-activity ratios – Forget about how many or how few streams you have overall; that’s a completely unhelpful “vanity metric.” What is more important to Spotify is how many of your actual listeners are doing something with your music (adding your songs to their playlists, listening to an entire song without skipping, saving to their song queue, sharing on social, etc.)
- Release music more frequently – The more frequently you release music, the more opportunities you have to actually appear in these algorithmic playlists, which helps you build streaming activity rather than spiking the activity and then plateauing or falling off between (infrequent) releases.
And of course: don’t forget that there are also ways to submit your songs for Spotify curated playlists. It’s not guaranteed, but it can be a great way to introduce yourself to new fans.