Even as music formats change and listening habits shift towards streaming, the challenge for music artists will always be the same: how do you get as many people as possible to hear your music, love it, and how do you develop and expand that fan base?
For the developing independent artist, nothing is more vital to career momentum in the music business right now than getting the right music discovery opportunities. There’s been a shift in marketing from the traditional album format to a greater emphasis on placement of singles in key curated playlists on streaming services like Spotify and Apple Music. Playlists have become the main driver of music discovery and consumption for developing artists, and getting a track onto the right Spotify playlist can bring global listenership with just one key placement.
At AWAL, pitching for placement on playlists curated by streaming services and helping artists get discovered is at the core of our business, and a key measurement of success with our clients. We have a direct relationship with streaming services across the globe and work to help our members get discovered through increased visibility on key playlists.
Over time we’ve discovered 4 key factors that can help close a playlist pitch in an artist’s favor.
1. Social Followers and Activity
Developing artists may not have a massive budget for radio, a PR campaign, or the traditional marketing tools, so developing your social media presence is extremely important. Along with press highlights, more people following your social media profiles indicates to streaming services that your music is solid and deserves attention. Here are some additional factors that can help convince Spotify or Apple to include your track on one of their key playlists:
- Get fans and media outlets to talk about your music, and to believe in your vision.
- Ask fans to follow you on social media as well as your artist profile on Spotify and Apple Music Connect. Follower counts are important to streaming services, as they see it as a potential to connect new listeners to the service.
- Make sure your website and socials point back to your content on Spotify and Apple Music. Showing your support to these business partners is an important way of showing that you are doing your part in marketing your own music.
2. Optimize Your Own Account: Verification & Playlists
Once you’ve started making progress with your social media fan base, make sure you are verified on both Spotify and Apple Music Connect to start engaging with your fans. Once verified, you are able to create your own playlists on your profile to help create a bond with your fan base to give some personality to your presence on the platform. Not only does this give you a direct way of communicating to your fans, but it also shows the streaming services you are invested and that you want to connect with listeners. Fans love to hear what inspires their favorite new artist, what they’re listening to on tour, or singing in the shower. Choose a theme or two and start putting some effort into creating well curated playlists. Once you’ve got a nice playlist made (featuring some of your own songs of course), start posting and tweeting on social media. One cool, well thought-out playlist will not only get fans to engage with the playlist, but will show Spotify and Apple that you are potentially bringing new subscribers into their service too.
3. Website Links
Another element that streaming services look at when considering your tracks to add on their key curated playlists is making sure you are including their links on your website. Many artists forget to include a Spotify play button or playlist widget on their website. Streaming services need to feel like they are a priority along with your social media profiles and download buy links. Please be sure to include Spotify, Apple Music, and other streaming services links on your website (and socials too, potentially).
4. Help Algorithmic Playlists Find You
In addition to the above, there’s another area of playlisting that is becoming big for discovery on Spotify in particular. Introducing algorithmic playlists! In layman’s terms, these are auto-generated playlists that are based on music sharing and blog activity. Believe it or not, you can do things to try and affect your chances of landing in algorithmic playlists.
There are two types of algorithmic playlists that are getting traction on Spotify and driving tremendous music discovery for developing artists. The first is Discover Weekly, a weekly playlist delivered to every subscriber on Spotify that looks at your playlist collection as well as users with similar listening habits and generates a playlist of music that is primarily of developing artists. Release Radar and Your Daily Mix function similarly. Since rolling out, more and more people are discovering new music of developing artists and adding them to their own playlist.
The other type of algorithmic playlist is the Fresh Finds playlists, which scours the internet for music shared on social media, in music blogs, and on non-Spotify owned “tastemaker” playlists. Tastemakers are playlisters with a high number of followers whose playlists have low skip rates (well curated!) and highly shared, and thus is a trusted source for new emerging music.
Some things you can do to help your chances of getting picked up on these algorithmically based playlists are more simple than you might think, and don’t require a tremendous PR budget.
- Ask all of your fans to follow you on Spotify and Apple Music and make concentrated efforts to grow your follower numbers.
- Be sure to send your relevant pitching materials or one-sheet to you or your publicist’s music blog contacts. Positive attention from the blogs could result in being added to Fresh Finds.
- Once you’ve established a base, reach out directly to a tastemaker by first following them on Spotify and then sharing your track to them with a note asking if they will include your track on their influential playlist. The bigger your social presence you have when you contact a tastemaker, the better chance that they will add your music to their playlist when you offer to share the playlist to your growing fan base. Obviously you’ll want to focus on tastemakers with similar musical tastes as your music with a large number of followers for the best chances of inclusion.
- Spend time curating a good playlist on YOUR profile. The better the playlist is, the more likely a fan will follow and share it. Share your playlist as wide as you can and focus on getting it to people that you think it will resonate with. Ask your fans to share your tracks or playlists to try and create as much buzz as possible.
By focusing on getting fans to share your music and getting included on tastemaker playlists, you will increase your chances of getting picked up on Spotify’s algorithmic playlists.
We want AWAL artists’ music to be discovered! Of course, none of this happens without great music. First and foremost, focus on creating great music that people want to share, talk, and write about. Then ensure you are engaging with your artist profile across all streaming services by creating your own playlists and promoting them. Your fans will always be your best allies, and will be excited to share your music and playlists. Spotify and Apple Music will take this as a sign that you’re willing to promote your own music, which enhances your chances of them promoting as well. Lastly, reach out to both small and larger music blogs for feature consideration, and do what you can to get your track on as many tastemaker playlists as possible. This will increase your odds of Spotify’s algorithm picking up on your track for a growing category of music discovery - algorithmic based playlist.
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