'How do I get on a playlist?’ is a question on every artist’s mind when approaching a release in the digital music landscape. Over the last few years, playlists, both editorial & independent, have become the tastemaking source in the industry, giving fans a running list of exactly what they should be listening to. The importance of playlists for an artist can be quite extensive, with high playlist visibility often leading to a growth in streams, engagement, and even new audiences. In this article, we’ll look at two areas - promoting your streaming channels in ways to optimize your opportunity for playlists and promoting your music properly on streaming platforms. Looking at what you can do with your own channels first will help “oil the wheels” when it comes to driving streams, so you can then better promote your releases and land those editorial placements you want.
Optimizing Your Presence
The first step to improving your chances of landing on a playlist is optimizing your presence on the digital services. We’ve outlined some ways you can work to boost engagement on your artist pages, and hopefully, gain the attention of the editors at the services.
- Claim Your Artist Pages: On platforms like Deezer, Amazon Music, Spotify and Apple you can actually take control over your page and customize it in a variety of areas. With the ability to update artist images & bios, you are given control to make your page completely you! Why is this important though?
- Your artist page should be a way for fans to know who you are. With an optimized artist page, fans get a better sense of what you’re about, what to expect from you, and your ‘brand’.
- Some of the digital services now offer promotional tools within their ‘for artist’ platforms. For example, Spotify’s Playlist Tool lives within Spotify for Artists and you won’t be able to access it without claiming your page on Spotify.
- Claiming your page will also give you access to insights, data, and analytics for your releases and page you wouldn’t have access to otherwise. These stats can give you insights into things like territories of highest listenership, highest streaming tracks, and playlists your music is located on.
- Curate Your Own Playlist: A great way to engage not only with fans, but also with other artists, is by putting together a playlist of your own. You can share this playlist across social media platforms and also even pin it to the top of your artist pages on the streaming platforms.
Creating a playlist is a strong way of starting to take some control over your presence on playlists but also can help algorithmically as well. The algorithms on streaming platforms review what types of playlists your tracks are already on, what other artists are on those playlists, and listenership. By creating your own playlist (it should always contain tracks of your own!) you can start giving fans AND the services an idea of who your inspirations are, artists you think you’re similar to, etc.
These playlists will only be useful if you can grab the attention of your fans though, so It’s a good idea to make sure you start off with tracks that are immediate and very much reflect the mood of the playlist as people “jog on” pretty quick if they don’t like the first couple of songs. 20-30 tracks is a great length to get started with, and again, don’t forget to intersperse tracks of your own throughout! Once you’ve finessed your playlist, consider sharing with the artists who you’ve placed on it (especially if they’re in the same local scene as you), but also share across socials to give your fans direction to listen! Also, don’t forget to add your own image to live as the playlist cover and give it a creative, catchy name!
- Consider a Collaboration: To boost your exposure on the digital services and draw a wider audience’s attention to your artist page and music, it’d be worth considering a collaboration. Working with other artists can give you both the opportunity to interact with each others’ audiences and grow accordingly, and also presents the opportunity for wider reach on social media, in press, and more.
If you’re both credited as primary artists (not ‘featured’ or ‘with’) then the release will appear prominently on both your artist pages on the streaming platforms. This means your followers, as well as the followers of the other artist, will be aware of your release. It also means listeners for both of you will combine to add to your pages unique monthly listener counts, a great sign of engagement on digital platforms.
For best results, pick an artist that has something in common with you and/or your sound. Not only will it help you maintain your sound, but also, it's more likely both of your audiences will dig the track.
- Use Social Media: Ahead of releases you should consider using advertising on social media to drive engagement on your artist pages. While ads generally do require a budget, they can be great ways to push your audience to your streaming pages. If resources are limited, focusing ads only on your strongest social platform could be a way of still meeting an audience, without breaking the marketing fund you’ve planned.
While paid ads can show great results, they’re definitely not the only way to use social media to your advantage! Simply using social features like ‘Stories’ or your Timeline can be extremely beneficial for engaging fans and pushing them to your artist pages.
Tip: Don’t forget to use smart links to share your music on live dates, which allow fans to choose from the digital service of their choice to stream on.
Promoting Your Music On Digital Services
So you’ve optimized your presence across the digital services. Now what? Time to work on promoting your music to land the playlist placements you want!
- Pitching Your Music: There are a variety of ways to pitch your release to the editorial teams at the digital services. We’ve outlined some ways to pitch your release in our Knowledge Base article here. To summarize, you can pitch your release through AWAL’s own processes and forms. We utilize the information and market drivers you submit to us to understand more about your release and also to help us create a pitch to present to the services if the time is right.
In addition though, we’d definitely encourage you to work on establishing relationships with some independent tastemakers. These curators have their own playlists and generally can have really large followings who go to them for music recommendations. While these playlists aren’t ‘editorial’ they do help you promote your music to new audiences and also boost your activity on the digital services.
Finally, there are pitching tools within some of the digital services ‘for artist’ platforms. For example, Spotify’s Playlist Tool is available to artists & their teams provided they have access to Spotify for Artists. This tool helps get your release in front of editorial teams, but also drives submissions for Release Radar and other algorithmic playlists. It’s super important you submit via this tool at least 7 days in advance of release day to be eligible for all these opportunities.
Tip: Regardless of the methods you’re using to pitch your music, it’s super important to optimize your marketing drivers. Make sure to present yourself and your release in the best way possible. On-platform points (streaming numbers, monthly listener counts, etc.) are super important of course, but presenting information about your press & radio presence, notable tour dates, and synch placements are also really vital aspects of a campaign that playlist curators consider.
If your track is placed on a playlist, be sure to thank the digital service (or independent curator) on socials to show your appreciation for their support!
Warning: Be sure to do your research when exploring playlist pitching methods. Often times services that require payment for a guaranteed number of playlist placements or streams is something to be wary of and can result in artificial streaming notices from the services. You can read more about that here.
- Engage with Your Followers & Fans: Most digital services pay really close attention not only to your stream counts, off-platform activity, and other playlist adds but also to the overall engagement you have on the service. The editors want to see people engaging with and loving your music, whether that be through saves, adds to user-generated playlists, or streams. Another strong indicator of engagement is your follower count. Not every service has a ‘follow’ button, but on the ones that do, the ‘follow’ count presents as a measure of just how engaged your audience is.
To keep your fans engaged, and help boost your follower count, it may be worth running a ‘follow’ campaign across your social media. You could run pre-saves that request fans not only save your release but also follow your page. Additionally, you could also consider running contests where point of entry is simply fans ‘following’ you on specific digital services.
- Keep in Touch With Us!: We work really closely with our store partners to make sure we always deliver the information they want, when they want it and we do our best to push AWAL member releases where we can. To ensure we can make the most of opportunities for you when they arise please be sure to get in touch with us well in advance of your release day to discuss next steps. It’s super important that you adhere to our upload lead times (4 weeks) which is also a great time frame to keep in mind when getting in touch about pitching.
It’s also helpful to keep us in the loop as you have updates! We love to hear about things like new press support and premieres or synchs you have lined up, even after release day. This helps us stay across your release to the best of our ability and remain aware of the activity you’re receiving.
Playlisting has become the new tastemaking force in the industry and thus can play a huge role in any artist’s career. Hopefully the tips above have given you ideas to start focusing your efforts on for increasing your playlist presence. Optimize your artist pages, maintain a strong presence on the platforms, and pitch that music! Next stop: the playlist placement you’ve been working for.
Article Authors: Phil Loutsis (VP) & Emily Berwald (Manager), Community Support