When it comes to getting your music heard, landing on a Spotify playlist can be a dream come true. It can be the difference between a few hundred listens or a few thousand. In short, it’s become one of the breakout ways to make your name known as an artist.
But when it comes to actually securing that elusive spot, how do you do it? Well, just like there are booking agents to help you with your tour or publicists to help you with press (and sometimes Spotify placements), there are also those that specialize in Spotify placements. If budget allows and you’re not incredibly well-connected, this might be your best option.
Whether you’re DIY all the way, here are a few tips to get you started and on your way to Spotify placement.
First, what’s the difference between a Spotify Official Playlists and the rest?
A Spotify Official Playlist is one that Spotify’s own curators come up with. They choose the songs, they decide what makes the cut and, as a result, they have some of the biggest and most influential playlists out there.
However, that doesn’t mean there’s not value in being on unofficial playlists. There are plenty of opportunities out there to land on a playlist from a major blog (like Alternative Press’ AltPress Discover playlist) or influential industry member (like Mike Ziemer’s Unsigned Spotlight).
Tip 1: Build your relationships
Lack of relationships is one of the major reasons that bands tend to hire team members. You hire a publicist because you don’t have press connections, you hire a booking agent because you don’t have venue connections, so on and so forth. If you can begin to build your relationships in the music industry, it will trickle into absolutely everything you do and you will see a huge benefit to all areas of your career.
There are a few important things to remember when it comes to building relationships. The first is to treat it like a friendship, which means be genuine. You wouldn’t make friends with someone just so you could use them for their connections (and if you tried to, they’d see right through it), so keep this in mind when you’re meeting new people.
The second is to always give more than you take. This means listening more than you talk and offering assistance before its asked of you. The best connections are built from trust and a mutual desire to help one another. It may sound counterintuitive, but if you want to build a genuine, lasting connection, you have to be willing to give more than you take.
The third is to be active and engaged and always working to build new relationships and nurture existing ones. One of my favorite ways to build relationships is in-person meet-ups and shows. (That means yes, you might have to conquer your fears of talking to strangers, but I promise it’s worth it!) My second favorite is to utilize Facebook groups. There are a few really great ones out there with a focus on building community and relationships, rather than just spamming your music to strangers. A few recommendations to get you started: Music Launch Hub, Indieprenuer Indies and Music Biz Besties (ladies only).
Tip 2: Tend to your social media + press
Like everything else in this industry, one area tends to feed directly into another, which means that how well you do in one area is a good predictor of how well you’ll do in another. For instance, if you don’t take care of your social media, don’t set up a proper release schedule and don’t have any real relationships in the industry, then you shouldn’t be too surprised when no one cares that you’ve dropped a new album.
On the flip side, if you’re using social media frequently and correctly (i.e. using the 70/20/10 rule), have engaged and interested fans and either hire a publicist or build the relationships yourself, then you’re more likely to get press. The more buzz you have from your press placements and social media, the more likely a Spotify playlist is to pick you up, because they can see that you already have an audience and a buzz.
You simply can’t neglect any area of your career and expect to see success. In today’s music industry, it isn’t about scraping by until someone discovers you and takes away all your problems. It’s about the process and learning to enjoy that process. If you don’t like the process and also aren’t willing to hire someone to help with the parts you don’t like or aren’t good at, odds are you’re not going to succeed.
Tip 3: Don’t be unrealistic in your expectations
It can be really easy to set yourself up for disappointment by proclaiming that you want to land on an Official Spotify Playlist, and nothing else will do. Not only is that closed-minded, but it probably isn’t going to land you on an official playlist. You can’t skip steps.
While there are certainly stories of artists who are incredibly new to the scene landing on an official playlist, odds are you’re going to have to go through a few steps before you get there. All of the things I just mentioned (social media, press) are important parts of the process, but you may also want to land a few smaller playlists as well, in an effort to gain more attention and prove the song’s interest. Not to mention, there’s a lot of value in being on those smaller playlists. (It’s still exposure to a new audience after all.) It’ll help grow your audience and give you a bit more exposure, all while getting you one step closer to a Spotify Official Playlist.