If you were a 90s kid like me, you probably remember curating playlists before there were playlists. They were called mixtapes, or “burning a CD.” We put our favorite songs in one place so we could just hit play and know that every track would be awesome.
Today’s version of that is Spotify playlists. And as an artist, it’s important that you factor them into your music marketing strategy.
How Much To Invest in Spotify Playlists (Emotionally/Financially)
To figure out how much you should emotionally and financially invest in Spotify playlists, we first have to talk about the Spotify algorithm. (Learn how to get your music on Spotify here).
How does the Spotify algorithm work?
Spotify’s algorithm is all about data. It analyzes how its 433+ million users listen to music. Then it uses all that data to suggest songs to listeners. And it’s gotten very good at suggesting music that listeners will like.
Basically, the algorithm gods want to suggest the right song to the right person, which is why it’s important for you to pay attention to what data you feed them. Who’s your audience? What artists is your music similar to? Do listeners engage with your songs, or mostly skip them?
Spotify wants to only suggest music that will engage the listener, thereby keeping the listener on the platform and an all-around happy customer. So here are some of the metrics Spotify uses to measure the engagement of your songs:
- Minimal skips
- Repeat listens
- High follower-to-listener ratio
- High save-to-stream ratio
- Number of playlist adds
- How often your name appears in the press
- Number of song shares
The higher Spotify ranks your engagement, the more likely it is you’ll get on algorithmic playlists, like Radio, Release Radar, Discover Weekly, Your Daily Mix, and On Repeat.
Should you try to please the Spotify algorithm?
Artists who make multiple kinds of music use different artist names, if they’re smart. You don’t want to confuse the algorithm with an acoustic singer-songwriter song one month and then a lo-fi hip-hop song the next.
I’m not saying you should change your music to please the algorithm, but if your musical style is all over the place, you won’t do as well on Spotify.
“The algorithm IS your audience,” writes Chris Robley of CD Baby. “I mean that in an almost literal sense; not that you create your art to please a machine, but that this machine is the most powerful representation of your fans’ aggregate tastes and listening habits.”
In a way, the algorithm is on your side. It’s trying to get your music to the right people. So if you confuse it, you’re making its job harder.
Again, if you want to make an artistic choice, do what you need to do. I’m all for it. Artistic expression always comes first. But just know, if the music is too different from your previous music, you may not get as much traction on Spotify.
How much to invest in Spotify playlists
Never pay money for “guaranteed” streams on a Spotify playlist. These are most likely bots and definitely not people who are going to be your fans. You’re trying to build a community of real fans here, not just streams.
But what about paying to submit your music for playlist consideration?
This is fine if you have the budget. In this case, the playlisters will accept or reject your song solely on their musical taste and preference, not based on you paying them.
I’ve used playlist-pitching services where you can pay to submit. But I didn’t spend tons of money on it, and I wouldn’t suggest you do either. Yeah, $10 here and there could work. But you probably have other, more valuable things to spend that money on.
Emotionally, I would say don’t base all of your success on getting on playlists, especially Spotify editorial playlists. Editorial playlists are curated by Spotify employees, and they’re notoriously tough to get on. Usually, you need to have already gotten tons of streams to land on one of those.
However, definitely try to get on playlists. Remember, the Spotify algorithm will rank your engagement higher the more playlists your songs are on. Just make sure those playlists are in line with the type of music you make.
How To Find Spotify Playlists
Here are a few websites I use to pitch my music for playlist consideration. I’ve gotten on several playlists using all of these methods.
SubmitHub is a pay-to-submit platform for Spotify playlists, music bloggers, influencers, etc. You can submit for free, but by using Premium (paid) credits, it bumps you to the front of the line so the playlist curator hears your song first. I’ve gotten several press write-ups and playlists inclusions through this platform.
I’ve spent some money on SubmitHub, but I wouldn’t recommend spending a crazy amount of money on it, unless you have the budget. There are free ways to get on playlists.
I have yet to try Groover, but it works a lot like SubmitHub in that you get a guaranteed listen and feedback. It’s then up to the curator if they want to add your song to one of their playlists. It costs $2 to submit to a curator, and that is split between the curator and Groover.
The @gmail.com method
I used this method to get my songs on a couple playlists. Basically, in the Spotify search bar, type “[your genre/mood] @gmail” and you’ll find a bunch of playlists where the curator has listed their submission email in the description. And it doesn’t have to be just your genre or mood – you can replace it with whatever you think will find playlists that fit your music.
Search hashtags on TikTok and Instagram
Social media is full of playlist curators who love sharing music they’ve discovered. And they use specific hashtags on their TikToks, Reels, and Shorts. So as an artist, you can search these hashtags, find those curators, see if they have any playlists your music would fit on, and then submit your music.
Here are some hashtags you can search on TikTok, Instagram, and YouTube:
The Most Important Kind of Playlist
The most valuable kind of Spotify playlist your songs can get on are those made by your fans. These are personal playlists that people voluntarily added your music to. They’re not aspiring professional music curators. They’re just music lovers.
It means your song resonated so deeply with them, they just had to add it to their carefully assembled playlist. When you see these playlists show up on your Spotify for Artists dashboard, feel encouraged. You’re doing something right, so keep it up.