Spotify is one of the few music streaming services to accept direct submissions from musicians, artists, and their teams. They have stated publicly that the only way to get on official Spotify playlist is to pitch through the Spotify For Artists dashboard using the “Upcoming” pitch portal.
But is it really true that the only way to get on Spotify editorial playlists is through the Spotify for Artists “Upcoming” pitch portal? What are the other ways?
During my record label career my focus was pitching Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon, and others for features and playlists. And pitching new music is something I did for twenty years as a VP at Sony Music and the GM at rock label Fearless Records. Now that I run an academy and teach this stuff, I constantly hear from musicians who are struggling with getting playlists on Spotify, or social media, or gatekeepers in all areas of the music industry.
Can You Pay to Get Into Spotify Playlists?
After becoming frustrated with not getting official Spotify playlists, most of you have fallen prey to a digital marketer who’s telling you to do “Spotify playlist promotion” “Get on massive playlists”, “we have a network of 10 million listeners”, “we get your track to 7,000 curators”. They might even tell you you’ll get on Spotify editorial playlists.
They know your pain, and they show you what paradise looks like. They’ve got you focused on trading dollars for streams.
OK, let’s say they get you 25,000 streams in two weeks. You feel like your $300 dollars was a good trade for that. But what about the skips? Most of you don’t think about that.
I haven’t heard any playlist promotion company say “We’ll get your 25,000 streams with only 500 skips’. They don’t think about it, and they don’t want you thinking about it either. But I’m here to tell you, that you need to be concerned about skips.
Those of you who have used services like this, know that your streams fall off a cliff as soon as your campaign ends.
You can be sure the reason is they put you on a bad playlist that got you too many skips. And this signals Spotify’s recommendation engine that the track was not well liked, and Spotify stopped showing your music to listeners. So you paid a Spotify promotion company $300 to $1,000 to ruin your long term organic algorithm reach.
How Do I get in Touch With Spotify Playlist Curators
OK, so don’t get skips, don’t use Spotify playlist promotion services. YOU GET IT. So what do we do then? How do I get in touch with Spotify playlist curators?
Don’t worry, I’ve got you.
First I have 6 tips on getting official Spotify playlists. Then I’ll mention a few playlist promotion services that aren’t that bad.
I’m not actually not saying don’t use playlist promotion services. There is a way to use them responsibly. And after you watch this video, I’ve got a separate video that goes into my process for how to get your song on Spotify playlists for free.
6 Tips for Getting On Official Spotify Playlists.
Your overall goal should be to get sustained long term algorithm play and Spotify’s official editorial playlists. There’s lots of paths, but aside from releasing a really really good song…
1. Your branding has to impress Spotify curators.
It’s mostly about music, but don’t overlook your branding. That means the artwork, photos, about section. It all has to impress a Spotify curator.
You have a 1 in 6 chance of landing an official Spotify playlist each time you pitch. With a few hundred thousand tracks being released each week, that’s a lot of playlists being given out.
What I often hear from artists and managers is… I’ve tried that so many times, I never get anything from the Spotify Upcoming portal. They only give you 150 words. And, I find artists just give up, and shift their focus to either paying a playlist promotion service or trying to game the system somehow.
2. Promote your song with a track development plan
Instead of giving up or complaining about it, you should learn how to do a track development plan and have a real music release strategy.
Here is a link to a download my free track development plan. Inside Band Builder Academy I also share my pitch strategies and what to write on your 150 word pitch to Spotifys editorial team or curators.
And don’t sleep on Amazon and Pandora. Those services now accept direct submissions from artists. So use it or lose it!
3. Promote your music outside of Spotify, and this will show that your track is popular.
Spotify doesn’t want to be alone in the market. Their recommendation algorithm scrubs the internet for signals that your music is popular outside of Spotify. So if you only promote your music on Spotify, it will think your music is not popular, and therefore this will negatively impact their algorithm. So have a few launch partners for each song release, and mention those in your pitch. This will increase your chance of getting a Spotify editorial playlist.
Spotify’s editorial team are much more confident about playlisting your song if they see that this-or-that social influencer is helping you launch, or a featured vocalist is on the track, or you’ve partnered with a brand. Or perhaps your song is involved in this community or segment of pop culture and that strikes a chord with the Spotify curators.
Promote A Song On TikTok
TikTok influencers have a lot of power in your Spotify pitch, because if you can list three.
XyzInfluencer (1.2 million followers)
123influencer (500k).. This is really powerful.
You can find influencers that are promoting your style on TikTok, then send them a message on Instagram and ask if they want to collab or use your music? And ask HOW they work with musicians?
They’ll shoot you back their rates, or put you in touch with their manager. You’d be surprised how many you will find that say they’ll do it for $50 or $100. Some of them are posting 5, 10, or more videos per day. So it can be easy money for them.
There’s also TikTok promotion services that match musicians with influencers and brands.
4. Get a Priority Pitch Through Your Music Distributor
If you do come up with a competitive plan, you might be able to get a “priority pitch” through your digital distributor. Major music distributors still have the ability to pitch directly to Spotify curators and so do indie distributors like Distrokid, Ditto, or CDBaby.
This requires developing a good relationship with your music distributor. If you can’t convince your distributor to get excited about you, in a smaller pool of competition, how can you expect Spotify who has ten times more submissions to get excited?
Which is the best distributor for Spotify?
When it comes to music distribution, the music services will tell you that there is an even playing field. All distributors have the ability to pitch for official Spotify playlists. But, if you don’t give your distributor a competitive plan, they’re not going to pitch your music. Distributors are graded on their submissions. There’s a post-release analysis. When something flops, it hurts their submission score.
Distributors who choose wisely and get good grades, get better editorial and operational support from the music services. Those who don’t, get less.
But like I said, you need to have a relationship with your distributor, and this means putting together a great track development plan that delivers release-week traffic from all directions. And when music services review the performance a couple weeks later, if you delivered on your plan, this builds trust with your distributor and the curators at Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon.
5. Keep your algorithm pure to trigger the Spotify recommendation algorithm.
Don’t get greedy. Once you get some very relevant and targeted playlists, don’t ruin it by trying to get on really general and broad playlists that will get you skips.
If your music is streamed to the end frequently on Spotify, listened to more than twice per listener, gets added to lots of listener playlists, and lots of hearts, then you are going to trigger the Spotify algorithm. And eventually Spotify official curators are going to notice.
6. Artist & Talent Managers, Publishers, Labels, Distributors.
So by now, you’re understanding that the Spotify for Artists “Upcoming” pitch portal is NOT the only way to get official Spotify playlists. But distributors and the Upcoming pitch portal are required to get Spotify editorial playlists.
Getting support from artist managers, publishers, labels, and distributors are ways to help get official playlists. These people have relationships with official curators or their bosses. If they trust that you will make them look good, they might talk you up to their Spotify contacts.
But just understand that even though you have a manager friend that has a direct contact at Spotify, you still need to have your pitch setup on a distributor’s “priority grid” (the best way) or at least through Spotify for Artists “Upcoming” portal. Otherwise when they pull up your artist name or song, it won’t show up in the system for your given release date.
And I’ll reiterate. Your manager friend, your label, they are also being graded. So make sure that your launch plan is competitive and that it actually results in real people showing up to Spotify to stream on release date. Remember what I said about promoting your music outside of Spotify.
Other Ways To Get On Spotify Playlists
I’m going to make this brief, because my next blog post will focus on more in depth ways to get on playlists for free.
- Curate your own playlists.
- Playlist Trading in Facebook or Discord Groups.
- Create your own database of playlist curator contacts for very relevant “listener” playlists in your specific genres or moods. This one is pretty high on my list and will work for everybody. It does require the most work, but I also think it has the biggest long term payoff for your algorithm. I start by finding these on:
- Listener playlists These already have your song on them – they’re found on Spotify For Artists
- Discovered On” Feature on Spotify.
I use two member-only tools inside Band Builder Academy that were developed just for my academy.
Genre Detector Tool
Spotify Algorithm Tool
These Spotify algorithm tools help you find the best playlists that won’t get you skips. And not only will they have similar artists, but you’re looking for what I call “should be fans”. Because if they like all the songs on a playlist, they should like yours too.
I’ll go deeper on how to get on playlists for free in the next blog post. Don’t forget to download of my free track development plan. I’m happy to answer questions in the comments.