Getting Your Songs
on Spotify Playlists:
A streaming success guide for
Say what you will about the plight of the album
format. We’re now living squarely in the age of
digital music streaming, where PLAYLISTS have
emerged as the most important organizing principle
Streaming music revenue has overtaken both
download and CD sales, becoming the leading
revenue driver for many recording artists and
songwriters — and, as independent musicians like
Perrin Lamb can attest, it’s possible to earn a fulltime
living with just a single song being placed on a
prominent Spotify playlist.
Yes, despite what you’ve probably heard, there’s
real money in Spotify IF you’re an artist who owns
both the rights to your master recordings AND the
publishing rights to your songs. And playlists are
one of the biggest drivers of song engagement on
Why Playlist Matter
One of the most important metrics to determine how successful an artist will be on
Spotify is the number of times their music has been added to playlists.
As Charles Alexander of Streaming Promotions says, Spotify’s algorithm is powered by
“collaborative feedback,” a process of crowd-curation where millions of users teach Spotify (and
their editorial team) what to notice out of a nearly endless catalog of music. Playlist activity provides
proof that your songs are worthy of further attention.
Prominent playlists can also provide you with instant access to a huge number of new listeners and
boost your streaming revenue alongside that engagement. Those new fans discover your music
while passively listening to a playlist they’re interested in, and all those streams add up to earnings
For instance, Spotify’s “Your Favorite Coffeehouse” playlist (curated by their in-house editorial
team) has over 2 million followers. When CD Baby artist Perrin Lamb got a song placed on that
playlist in 2015, he earned almost $60k from just that one song on the platform.
But how do you get your music onto a prominent Spotify playlist?
Like most things in the music industry (and life in general) you don’t just show up one day and get a
song featured on a big playlist like “New Music Friday.”
Though these kinds of playlists DO feature music from unsigned artists, you need to work your
way there one step at a time, lay the groundwork, and eventually get the attention of big playlist
curators. This guide will outline a strategy that puts you and your songs in a better position to
succeed on Spotify.
But first, why focus on Spotify?
The streaming landscape seems to widen every month, with Apple Music, Amazon Music Unlimited,
Google Play, TIDAL, and many others competing for listeners. But Spotify, with its 40+ million paid
subscribers and 100 million active user accounts, is the clear leader of the pack. They also have
the prestige of blazing a trail for monetized music streaming. Put simply, success on that platform
above all others will have the biggest impact on your music career.
Please read this Tips & Tricks Guide to help get your music generating more revenue.
Ask fans to stream and buy it
Your most ardent supporters are sure to do whatever they can to see your name appear on one of those important rankings, and if you look to them to do something that won’t cost them any extra cash, they’ll probably be even more willing to sign up!
Ask your friends, family, and followers to stream your new album in addition to buying it. That way, you’ll move twice as many units, which will help you in the end.
Stream it non-stop
For those who really want to be helpful, tell them that they can stream your album several times in the first week, which will pad your total by quite a bit. Ask them to buy the record and then stream it anytime they want to listen to it, and if you’re comfortable doing so, suggest to them (perhaps just those you actually know or are close to, unless you have that sort of relationship with your fans) that they can keep it streaming on silent all night long or perhaps while they’re doing other things.
Those plays (to a certain extent — Nielsen does cap the total per person per week and too, too many plays might backfire and result in your album being removed or even you, yourself, getting banned) all count, and if you have several people doing so, all of a sudden one human can generate many units in a single frame.
From zero to infinity:
a step-by- step strategy for Spotify
Sign up for a Spotify account.
You gotta start somewhere, right?
Download the Spotify app
• Install it on your desktop
• Create an account and log in
• Familiarize yourself with the platform: search for music, browse the
suggested playlists, etc.
Visit your artist profile on Spotify
Do you have a blue checkmark icon on your profile? If not, it’s time to
Phase 2: Getting verified and building your
It’s possible to get your music onto playlists without being a verified artist on Spotify,
but having that little blue checkmark on your profile will really help you in your
efforts to be taken seriously on the platform and get the attention of Spotify playlist
What do I get once I’m “verified?”
Once you’re verified on Spotify, you can:
• Merge your artist discography page with your user profile
• Share playlists directly with your fans
• Add custom art and descriptions to playlists (including links)
• Update your artist profile image directly from the Spotify for Artists interface
• Access analytics with Spotify for Artists
• And more.
To become a verified artist on Spotify, go HERE
1. Ask your fans on social media to follow you on Spotify, and send them to the Spotify page you
created on your website. This page will have everything they need to take action and engage
with your music on Spotify, while you still control the experience from YOUR website. Be sure to
explain that a “Follow” on Spotify is one of the best ways to show support for the artists they
love on that platform, and that followers are more likely to receive automatic updates whenever
you release new music.
2. Send an email newsletter with a call- to- action asking fans to follow you on Spotify. Again, be
sure to tell them why it’s important,
Tell your fans at shows to get out their phones and follow you on Spotify.
5. Consider digital advertising via Facebook, YouTube, or Google to attract additional followers.
6. Encourage your fans to share playlists containing your music with their friends.
7. Encourage followers of your personal profile to also follow your artist discography page.
Phase 3: Getting in on the ground floor of
Once you’ve become a verified artist and built your initial following on Spotify, it’s
time to start pursuing some smaller playlist opportunities. As your music gets added
(or “seeded”) to playlists, you will be instructing Spotify’s system to take notice and
expect more activity from you.
Ultimately, the idea is that by building your playlist resume, Spotify will eventually
serve up your music in more prominent places. So let’s dive into the nuts and bolts
There are five primary types of playlists on Spotify:
Anyone on Spotify can opt to create a playlist that’s “collaborative,”
meaning any follower of the playlist can alter the list, add or delete songs,
change the song order, etc.
Your own playlists
Just what they sound like: you create them, you promote them, and you
feature them on your artist discography page!
Other peoples’ playlists
Get down with O.P.P.! These could be playlists run by any of Spotify’s
millions of users, including other artists, bloggers, or fans.
Curated Spotify playlists
These are playlists where the music is selected by Spotify’s in-house
editorial team. Because they are Spotify’s most powerful editorial tool,
these playlists get promoted like crazy within the platform.
These are Spotify playlists managed by third parties, such as Pitchfork, or
major-label playlists such as Topsify. Most branded playlists will try to strike
a balance between established artists and emerging artists as a way of
achieving tastemaker st
Playlists can group songs according to:
• Genre or sub-genre
• Your friends’ bands or bands you’ve toured with
• Your influences
• Place of origin: city, state, province, region, nation, continent
• Time, year, decade, era of its release
• Theme: dinner music, dance party, workout mix, Sunday morning reading, etc.
• Lyrical focus
• Set lists
• And much, much more
Create your own playlists
This is an obvious place to start once you’re verified, since you have complete control over the
playlist. Make your own! Playlists give you a great way to connect with fans between album cycles,
and they allow you to repurpose your catalog in countless ways by putting old songs into fresh
How to create a playlist
1. Within the Spotify app, click “(+) New Playlist”
2. Give your playlist a name and description. Be sure to use rich keywords that mention the style of
music, specific artists within the playlist, or other organizing principles for the songs contained
3. Upload a custom image for your playlist.
4. Add a URL to the “insert link” field linking to a pre-order page or music store. (Be considerate
and don’t link to a competing streaming service.)
5. Click “Create.”
6. Add songs! You can do this by searching for the song on Spotify and dragging it into your
playlist in the left-hand sidebar, or by clicking the ellipses next to any track and selecting “Add
Build playlists around your interests.
If you’re enthusiastic about the playlist, you’ll
make it awesome! If not, you’ll lose steam and
neglect it. Which brings us to…
Update your playlists on a regular schedule.
To make a playlist that’s worth following, it
should be dynamic and change over time.
Otherwise a user can just listen once and be
done with it. Choose a day to make updates
each week and keep it consistent to build
expectation amongst followers.
Only ONE song per artist.
Unless a playlist’s sole purpose is to highlight the
music of one artist, it’s best to make the song
list diverse. Spotify’s algorithm can downgrade a
playlist that is too heavily weighted towards one
Seed your own songs!
Nestle your song perfectly amongst a bunch
of great tunes by other artists. But remember:
just one song per playlist, unless it’s a playlist
organized around your music alone.
Playlists should have between 20-60 songs.
Spotify’s algorithm favors playlists with more than
20 songs and less than 60. Aim for 25-30 when
you first create the list, and then add more songs
on a regular basis. Once you’re approaching 60
songs, shuffle the oldest tracks off the list.
Promote your playlists.
Share the playlists you create with your fans
on social, email, etc. Ask them to follow your
playlists, and ask for their suggestions for songs
or artists you can add to your playlists in the
Ask your fans to save a song from your
playlist to their own playlists.
Again, Spotify’s algorithm takes special notice
whenever a user is motivated to move a song
from a playlist they follow to one of their own
playlists. This is the MOST IMPORTANT action
a fan can take to support you on Spotify. So
provide a link to your playlist and ask your fans
to do just that!
Notify other artists who’ve been added to
Reach out via Twitter, Facebook, or email. Let
them know you love their music, have added a
song to your playlist, and ask them to follow the
playlist and promote it to their fans.
Experiment with some of these other playlist ideas:
Catalog playlist — This is a playlist of your entire catalog, or a selection of your best tracks. Catalog
playlists are also a great tool for releasing a single; instead of linking your fans to just one song, link
them to the playlist where that new single plays first, and then your fans will have something else
to listen to when that song is over (your entire catalog!). Remember to add new tracks as they’re
“What I’m listening to” — Update this kind of playlist regularly with whatever you like from the
infinite world of streaming music. It’s a great way to build a deeper relationship with your audience;
they can get to know you as an artist and as a person who loves other artists’ music, too. It’s also a
great way to promote friends or bands you love.
One tip: when you add new tracks to your playlist, be sure to post a link to the playlist on social media
and tag @Spotify as well as the artists you’re adding to the playlist. Sometimes you can get retweets
from big names!
To see an example of this kind of playlist, click HERE.
Playlist contests — Challenge your fans to make their “dream setlist” or a “Greatest Hits” collection
from your catalog. Offer a prize to the best one, and require they share the playlist on Twitter or
Facebook. It’s a great way to reach friends of your fans that might not otherwise hear your music.
Use the buddy system — You probably have quite a few friends in your music scene who are at
a similar place in terms of growing their Spotify presence. Ask if they’d be interested in “trading”
songs on playlists. You add one of their songs to your playlist. They return the favor.
Phase 4: pitching to curated playlists
Now that you’ve laid the foundation and done as much DIY playlisting as possible,
it’s time to reach out to other playlist creators. But here too, start slow: approach
independently curated playlist creators first. After some success you can work your
way up to the big playlist curators.
Who should you be pitching to?
It’s impossible to recommend specific playlists in a guide like this, since it’d differ dramatically for
every genre. But rest assured that opportunities are out there — hundreds (even thousands) of solid
playlists exist for every genre.
No matter the genre though, the same pitching principles apply:
1. Google is your friend — A good genre playlist (and the contact info for its
creator) isn’t hard to find online. Do a simple search and you’ll be quickly on your
2. Do your research — Browse around. Get lost on Spotify. Ramble from playlist to
playlist. Takes notes on the ones that really leave their mark. What kinds of artists
and songs do they include? Which of your songs might fit best on that playlist?
3. Follow the playlists you want to pitch to — Be a good citizen. Don’t just spam
them. Follow them. You like the music anyway, right?
4. Build a relationship with the playlist creator — Follow them on Twitter or
Facebook if they have a profile. Leave comments on their blog. Communicate.
5. … THEN pitch your music — Once you’ve shown yourself to be interested in
and knowledgeable about the kind of music the playlist features, write to the
curator and politely (and briefly) suggest one of your songs that’d be perfect for
6. Cross your fingers — If they add your song, awesome. If they say no thank you,
don’t unfollow them or get snippy. Your NEXT song might be the winner!
Phase 5: Success!
More playlist activity, more listeners
Once your music begins to perform well through your own branded playlists, collaborative playlists,
and independently curated playlists, the Spotify algorithm may begin to suggest your songs to
Spotify’s in-house editorial team. That’s the real path to getting a song onto a playlist such as “Your
Favorite Coffeehouse” or “Fresh Finds.”
Discover Weekly and Release Radar
Spotify’s Release Radar algorithm might also begin to serve your music automatically to fans
via personalized Discover Weekly playlists, updated every Friday with up to two hours of new
songs and relevant tracks from artists the user has shown interest in.
This is another reason why it’s crucial to get your fans to follow you on Spotify, since your new
releases are automatically added to every follower’s Discover Weekly/Release Radar playlist.
The more followers you have, the more fans who’ll never miss out on your new tunes.
In addition to encouraging your fans to follow you and engage with your music on Spotify, another
way to boost your chances of your songs being seeded to Discover Weekly playlists is to
release music more frequently.
Don’t just think in terms of albums. An album only gives you ONE chance to get your new music
out there (and onto a Discover Weekly playlist). Instead, think about more frequent releases (singles
and EPs) that will put your music onto fans’ radars far more often.
If you release a series of singles that are eventually included on an album, those songs can retain
the same ISRCs (unique identifier codes for individual songs) as long as the sound recording is
identical. That means that the play-counts for the previously released songs on that new album
will automatically carry over.
Money, Money, Money: The streaming license fee, plus publishing royalties
Any of these more prestigious placements should boost your plays AND streaming income
significantly. When that happens, not only will you be paid for each stream through your distributor
(hopefully Sonicology), but — if it’s your original music — you’ll also generate publishing revenue in
the form of mechanical royalties.
This money is owed to you as the songwriter, and it is paid by Spotify to collection societies like
Harry Fox. However, these royalties can be difficult or impossible for you to collect on your
own from those societies without the help of a publishing rights administrator such as
Sonicology (Creator Pro)
Bonus tips to aid your playlisting efforts
Let the outside world in
Spotify isn’t an island unto itself. What you do in the “real world” and elsewhere online matters
to listeners, playlist curators, and Spotify’s team. So be sure to tour, make videos, get your music
reviewed on blogs, or anything else that helps you grow your fanbase outside of the streaming
platform. That momentum and buzz will drive playlist activity and streaming engagement within
Don’t ignore Facebook
A huge number of Spotify users have integrated their Spotify accounts with Facebook to share
their listening habits, favorite playlists, and more. If your Facebook page is a ghost town, and if
your engagement on Facebook is low, that looks bad to not only those listeners, but also Spotify.
The “music industry” cares about your stats
Numbers create an impression, and impressions matter. If you’re looking to attract label attention,
a manager, a booking agent, or a publisher, an impressive play-count on Spotify, along with a
robust history of playlist activity, is one way of demonstrating you’re worth investing in.
What are your Spotify “stats” as of today?
If you’re distributing music through Sonicology, you can view Spotify trending reports and analytics
within your (SIS) account.
This data can be super helpful when it comes to assessing the effectiveness of your Spotify
promotions, online marketing, and playlisting strategy, as well as help you make smarter decisions
when it comes to tour routing, targeted ads, and more.
We hope this guide provides a clear strategy for you to start making an impact on
Spotify through playlisting.
It’s not going to be an overnight win, but with great songs, a clear step-by- step
plan, and the help of your fans, you’ll be able to establish a greater presence on the
most powerful and popular music-streaming platform for years to come.