How to Get on Spotify Playlists — Try These 16 Proven Tips

Follow these tips and win.

George Goodrich of Playlist Push has witnessed thousands of successful Spotify playlist campaigns. He partnered with Digital Music News to share the most important tips he’s learned.

(1) Write long albums with short songs.

Rappers like Drake have turned this technique into an art, with albums loaded with lots of shorter tracks. And he isn’t alone. The strategy generates far more plays, thereby ensuring a top-charting album while multiplying per-stream revenue.

For developing artists, the strategy also increases the odds of landing on big playlists — while also increasing positive metrics around songs (more on that later).

(2) Make an impact in under :30

Fact: Spotify doesn’t pay for any song that gets skipped before the 30-second mark. But this goes beyond the simple payment.

“Curators and streamers alike want to be captivated by a new song in under 30 seconds,” Goodrich told us. “Make your song flow well, but also don’t waste time during the first crucial seconds of a song.”

(3) Songs are getting shorter — so think about length.

Lil Nas X’s ‘Old Town Road’ is just 1:53, the shortest chart-topper since 1965. And that’s hardly the exception: Lil Pump’s ‘Gucci Gang’ is just 2:04, while Kodak Black’s ‘Calling My Spirit’ is 2:32.

Songs are definitely getting shorter, and Goodrich says the reasons are simple. People are more distracted, and shorter songs grab people faster and reduce the chances of skipping.

They also result in bigger payouts for artists (see #1).

(4) Repackage to win.

This one’s genius.

Goodrich told us that clever artists are now re-releasing older tracks, with the same ISRC code and previous playcounts. “Artists that are smart are repacking singles into albums or compilations,” Goodrich said.

The repackaging pushes the ‘brand-new’ tracks with lots of plays into ‘new’ algorithm playlists like Discover Weekly, New Music Friday, and your followers’ Release Radar.  The refresh can result in a surge of new interest for an older cut.

(5) Use Spotify for Artists — correctly.

Most artists are doing Spotify for Artists wrong — and that dramatically reduces their chances of playlist inclusion.

The number one mistake: artists should be uploading tracks into Spotify for Artists at least 7 days before it hits the platform. Otherwise, the track isn’t guaranteed to hit your followers’ Release Radar playlists, which means that all of that free promotion is lost.

“A lot of artists are gunning down playlists but don’t even have access or utilize Spotify for Artists,” Goodrich said.

(6) Be nice to your distributor — you need them more than they need you.

Stop bitching at your distributor and start working to become their favorite artist.

“Most distributors have direct deals with Spotify, which means at least one person at your distributor speaks directly to someone at Spotify,” Goodrich told us. “There are always different brand deals and playlists opportunities that can pop up only via your distribution company.”

(7) Own your genre — or pioneer your own.

Hip hop is huge, but other genres are also generating lots of money on Spotify. Overnight, bedroom producers are minting cash on platforms like Lo-Fi Beats, and they don’t even have to tour.

But that’s just one playlist catering to a growing class of people using music to focus better. “Thanks mainly to the startup world and people just trying to focus better at work, stripped down repetitive beats are the top choice when it comes to writing or doing detailed technical work,” Goodrich said.

Even crazier: Goodrich said playlists like Lo-Fi Beats and Yoga & Meditation are spawning an entirely new generation of artists who are making a living off of Spotify. “There are hundreds of artists out there making thousands of dollars on these micro-niche genres across the platform,” Goodrich said. “Most of them with little-to-no fanbase outside of the platform, which they are completely fine with!”

(8) ‘Going viral’ is a fool’s errand — think long term, release lots of songs, and develop long release schedules.

Songs still go viral occasionally, but ‘going viral’ isn’t a good strategy. “In order to get noticed and get on Spotify playlists, most artists think they need a hit or just one banger to put them on,” George said.

“In reality you don’t need a hit, you need to release more records to drastically increase your chances of creating a banger. The more releases, the more chances you have to trigger the algorithms when a new release hits Spotify.”

(9) Try to establish a direct connection with a Spotify curator.

Yes, you can directly connect with Spotify curators if you’re lucky.

No, you cannot do this by spamming them constantly.

George recommended LinkedIn as a good place to start finding curators. Try starting here. Just make sure to target the right person for your genre (i.e., don’t splatter-spam). It’s time-consuming and not guaranteed, but the right connection can result in a plum playlist add. “If you do choose to go this route be polite in your messaging and don’t expect them to respond instantly,” George said.

(10) Pay attention to cover art.

Album art isn’t a lost art — even though it’s a tiny thumbnail these days. “Visual should not be an afterthought,” George said, while urging artists to imitate the artwork of releases from successful artists.

But don’t go crazy on a thumbnail — just make it high quality and fun. “Don’t spend $5,000 on a designer,” George laughed.

(11) Obey the simple rule of thumb: engagement is good, disengagement is bad.

Nobody knows Spotify’s exact algorithms for rating a track. But some basic principles apply.

Anytime a listener saves a song or adds it to a personal playlist, that’s good and shows positive engagement. Anytime they skip it or remove it, that’s bad because it indicates disengagement. Keep this basic guideline in mind.

(12) Dedicated followers = “guaranteed playlist real estate”

Artists with lots of Spotify followers are “guaranteed playlist real estate,” according to Goodrich. The reason is that anytime an artist releases new music on Spotify, it automatically populates the customized Release Radar playlist of every follower (just make sure you’re releasing properly through Spotify for Artists).

That doesn’t guarantee placement on a top playlist, but it builds a lot of momentum.

(13) Start big, end big to reduce skipping.

Artists like Kodak Black immediately hit you with the hook to grab your attention. But Goodrich is noting another trick: a lot of artists are now ending with the hook to keep listeners attentive.

Slower fade-outs and energy drops can lead to late-stage skips — which can result in negative strikes (see #11).

(14) Avoid long intros and slow builds.

More often than not, long intros kill placements. So it’s better to avoid them.

“There are long intros that work, but if you want to really crush it on Spotify, long intros aren’t the way to go,” George told us.

(15) Off-Spotify popularity helps, too.

Artists with weak Twitter and Instagram followers can have difficulty gaining traction on Spotify playlists. “It’s all relevant,” George explained, while noting that he politely guides artists with IG followers under 300 back to their SoundCloud accounts.

But beyond social networking, there’s also Google SEO to think about (SEO stands for ‘Search Engine Optimization,’ and basically refers to your Google search ranking). For example: is your song appearing in the first page of Google results, and preferably, is it one of the top, above-the-fold results?

Remember: Google owns YouTube, so a YouTube result with good track metadata and information will often bubble to the top. “If the song’s performing well, it can go into feeder playlists like Fresh Finds, and then an actual human at Spotify may listen to it,” George explained.

And another pro-tip: George also advised shouting out Spotify in tweets, IG posts, and Facebook blasts.  They just might notice.

(16) Should you get signed? A note on the power of major label representation.

It’s hard to say exactly what transpires between major labels and Spotify. Major labels oftentimes have serious sway with Spotify, but George warned us that this really depends on the specific label.

“We really don’t know what happens behind closed doors,” George said.  “Some labels have better relationships than others.”

In many cases, however, the impact can be dramatic. Beyond pulling favors and blasting Drake-style promotions, major labels are oftentimes experts in crafting streaming-friendly songs. “They know how to create and craft songs,” George said.

Hopefully these tips were helpful! Happy playlisting.

18 Responses

  1. Avatar
    Alex Michaels

    Anyone that claims they are an expert in this stuff is not! Don’t game the system. Write great songs! This whole article is bullshit. What works for Drake will not necessarily work for you..

    • Avatar
      BAC

      This advice by George Goodrich is correct, except for trying to cozy up to a Spotify playlist curator. That shit doesn’t work. Don’t even try to go there. Only go through the Spotify For Artists site for curated playlist consideration. Or, if you must, seek out people who build playlists for fun and ask for submissions (for free) via email. Maybe you’ll be in a playlist that has 500 followers rather than 5 million, but it’s a start.

  2. Avatar
    TrustMeIKnow

    STOP WORRYING ABOUT A DAMN SPOTIFY PLAYLIST! Get out there and build a REAL fan base of people that like YOU and YOUR MUSIC; not some stupid playlist they flip on everyday at the office. Young artists today are too lazy and don’t want to put in the hard work it takes to create and sustain a life-long career in music.

    • Avatar
      In The Know

      Sorry, but you got it all wrong ‘TrustMeIKnow’ Playlisting is the key to success these days. Ask any label owner…

      • Avatar
        TrustMeIKnow

        You’re a fool if you think that playlisting alone equals a career in music. Yes, playlists can give you a boost, help give you something to talk about when booking shows, etc.; however, playlisting will NOT make you a successful artist whatsoever. Think long-term; not short-term. Furthermore, decades have passed with many successful music careers built with ZERO playlists; just good ol’ fashioned hard work and being a road warrior. Go gain some experience before you start spewing out garbage, youngster.

        • Avatar
          BAC

          TrustMeIKnow, what did recording artists do 10, 20, 30, 40, 50, or 60 years ago? They tried to get on playlists at radio stations. Then MTV. Then SiriusXM. Then Pandora. Now they’re getting into Spotify playlists.

          How do you expect people to hear new music? By going out to clubs and taking a chance of some unknown live band that starts at 11pm on a Tuesday? What planet do you live on?

  3. Avatar
    Real G

    such a bullshit with go to linked in and sneak into an ass of a Spotify curator…
    badest advice ever, you suck!
    This is the opposite of realness!
    Goodbye

  4. Avatar
    Tha Yung Gunna

    For every song that catches on in a playlist and gets millions of plays, there are probably thousands or even hundreds of thousands of other tracks that could have performed equally as well. To say, “just make good music” and forget about playlists is naive. You need to be a 10 in both.

  5. Avatar
    Gooner

    How sad. The opposite of creativity. Advice for bots to make “music” for bots. Long intros are out. So don’t start your song with an acapella section that doesn’t contain your main hook. And God forbid you start off with a delicate acoustic passage with recorders long before your vocal comes in. Thank goodness this bs was not around years ago or guess what ? No “Bohemian Rhapsody”. No “Stairway to Heaven.” Let that sink in.

    • Avatar
      Soren

      Bohemian Rhapsody immediately has something very sing-along friendly going on though.

    • Avatar
      BAC

      What did Led Zeppelin make way before Stairway to Heaven? “Good Times Bad Times”, their first single. 2 minutes and 43 seconds. It’s got that simple beginning, but by the 20 second mark it’s full on.

      Same thing with Killer Queen on Sheer Heart Attack. 3 minutes in length. If you’re not totally hooked in the first 20 seconds, there’s something wrong with you.

      Nobody’s saying that you can’t make Us & Them at nearly 8 minutes long, and start your song with a couple of sax solos before the singing starts, but Pink Floyd started their singles career with Arnold Layne, which was payola’d to number 20 on the UK charts.

    • Avatar
      Paul Resnikoff

      I think you might be waxing a little too nostalgic for the past. The reality is that artists like Led Zeppelin and Queen, while incredibly creative and timeless, were also working within boundaries imposed by technology, public taste, and societally accepted norms (even if it appeared that they were breaking them). For starters, people had longer attention spans, and greater ability to absorb a ‘rock opera’ or concept album.

      Now, that’s impossible — face it, even baby boomers can’t focus on long passages of music without checking their phones, jumping on Netflix, calling Alexa, ordering something on Amazon, or thinking about Gmail. Sure, albums still exist, but they’re very different. Artists like Kodak Black and Ariana Grande get that.

      And it’s not all bad, it’s just different. Interestingly, audiences of the 60s and 70s seemed to also want to hear music that was generally ‘political’ and ‘revolutionary,’ but not too overtly political that it could ‘kill the buzz’ or introduce seriously divisive opinions (yes, modern audiences are more ready for seriously overt political messages from artists like Childish Gambino, instead of more vague Bob Dylan style messages (not judging either, just commenting on the differences)).

      • Avatar
        BAC

        You’ve missed my point. What I’m trying to say is that even artists in the classic rock era who later had hits with super creative, lengthy pieces of music, had to write short hit singles. Or they had their lengthy opus whittled down to make radio station playlists (Whiter Shade of Pale, Roundabout, Aqualung, etc).

  6. Avatar
    Blobbo

    F rap and F Spotify. Someone with brains in the music industry needs to sink those low-paying Swedish pieces of sheit.

  7. Avatar
    Nicky Knight

    Fascinating article and I think it’s very relevant in the pop hit business.

    1:50 is the new 3:30

  8. Avatar
    Marancino

    PlaylistPush is dope. And the article opened my eyes to a couple things i didn’t really know about #blessup2019

  9. Avatar
    Amrit

    I think at the end of the day good music, and good branding will outlive everything. No doubt we need to utilize the tools of the modern day, but it’s difficult to predict how long Spotify will be around, or even this current music consumption model. Nevertheless, the biggest thing seems to be capturing people’s attention in a distracted world.