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Advice for Moving Up and Not Sliding Off a Popular Playlist


Whether it’s A-List: Hip-Hop, mint, Pop Hitlist, or the feeder playlists that help drive them, editorial curation continues to transform music for both artists and fans. (The staff experts and everyday users of Spotify, Apple Music, YouTube, Tidal, SoundCloud have generated billions of collections between them.)  

Landing on a major playlist creates awareness and engagement around tracks. Previously, we’ve talked about the best tips to get added to a playlist… but what happens after that? Is there a way to help your tracks rise and stay on a playlist longer?

“Tracks move up or down on playlists depending on their performance,” says Amelie Bonvalot, Senior Director, Digital Sales & Account Management, “because [editors and curators] see that people are more likely to listen to something that is doing well.”

Artists, their teams, and music companies have limited control over a song’s starting position on a playlist. Individual curators make those decisions based on anything from an artist’s buzz to their personal vision for sequencing. While there’s no one-size-fits-all method to win streams, a few simple but important steps can improve your odds of staying on and moving up on a playlist.

1. Share the news & encourage streams

When an editor adds your song to a playlist, says Bonvalot, it’s wise to measure how your track performs within it, not just overall platform numbers. In other words, you help yourself when you flag major adds and directly link fans to those playlists.

If your song is added to several playlists at once, spread your posts and announcements according to how timely the add is. For example, New Music Friday on Spotify and Best of the Week on Apple Music are revamped every week, so you’ll want to let your followers know about your add as soon as possible. Other playlists are more evergreen — like genre-based playlists, for example — so there’s more time to shout about those additions.

“The more you get your fans to engage with your music on-platform,” says Nicki Shamel, Senior Director, Digital Sales & Account Management, “the greater chance of increased exposure you’ll have.”

Relatedly, personal collection adds correlate to sustained fandom and repeat listens. Streams are good. Saves are ideal. Clearly stating a CTA (“add it to your library!”) can help drive that conversion.

“If there is an add to a collection or a save from that playlist, that’s going to contribute to the performance of the track within the playlist,” says Bonvalot.

2. Craft a compelling message

It’s not rocket science, but it deserves emphasis: How you present a requested action (Stream! Share! Download!) impacts whether the action gets done. It’s also beneficial shouting out DSPs, a must to demonstrate how you’re driving fans to their platforms.  

One (very basic) example of a social post that would tick all the boxes might resemble the following: “Shoutout @DSP for adding my track “Super Good Song” to [Insert Major Playlist Here]. Press play: [Link].”

3. Don’t stop after release day

In our previous article, we talked about “marketing drivers” that help show playlist editors how you, as the artist, are doing your part to build hype around the track. These can include growing your social following, any press write-ups or reviews, even performing or touring. And while these elements are important for that initial playlist add, you should continue to build on them to show that awareness of your song and music is spreading.

“Any kind of pickup that you see on blogs, magazines, and any other media outlets is definitely going to contribute to the awareness of the track,” says Bonvalot, “Showing Apple Music and Spotify that there is something happening off-platform is definitely a way to justify why they should listen to a track. Create some recognition. It’s almost like working a track as a brand.”

4. Engage on-platform

Along with cultivating those off-platform marketing drivers, make sure you’re engaging and building your profile within the DSPs. This includes creating your own playlists, publishing content to Connect, and even choosing your own, personal “Artist’s Pick” to direct listeners to something you’re listening to or your latest track.

“If you’re on tour, share a playlist of the songs you’re listening to when you’re on the road,” suggests Shamel. “If there’s a list of artists that you find inspirational or artists that have really had an impact on your career, make a playlist to reflect that. Show that you’re engaging with the platform, so not only are you bringing people on board to listen to your music, but you’re also getting people to engage with your profile.”

It’s important to remember that, regardless of your efforts, whether it’s Apple Music, Spotify, or something else, your track may slip down or off of a playlist. If and when that happens, says Bonvalot, “It doesn’t mean it’s over. Sometimes, after a while, the track can still become viral if something happens around it.” Continue to work on building that awareness around your track — the buzz may end up translating into a synch placement or radio play, which creates a whole new life for a song that might warrant playlist adds.

If there is one core takeaway that every artist can use to boost their chances of getting added and staying on playlists, it’s simply this: “Keep making good music,” says Bonvalot. And if you’ve been added before, it’s important to stick with that quality and momentum “because that track got on a playlist, so you want to make sure that your next track lands on even more playlists.”

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