How to Get on a Playlist: Your 8 Step Guide
Updated: Apr 18, 2019
There are countless articles on the internet with ‘scribblers’ on how to get on a playlist.
Some artists have the luxury of being handpicked by Spotify, Apple Music or Deezer playlist curators. They get tons of plays overnight. Secondly an answer from the industry Gods- they get a spike in revenue from being heavily streamed. Listeners and music platforms are unpredictable so I’d be lying if I told you there is a guaranteed, quick and easy way to achieve what heavily backed artists are able to do overnight.
Once you release your music, you have to promote it. Simple. If not, it’ll collect digital dust-no one will listen nor playlist it. Evolving algorithms make organic promotion the best because it makes sure you as an artist is releasing great music with genuine feeling.
The way we discover and listen to music has changed. Algorithms are now heavily involved. They’re serving us personalized playlists and breaking artists who have data to back up their success. (You want to know more check out https://medium.com/s/story/spotifys-discover-weekly-how-machine-learning-finds-your-new-music-19a41ab76efe). The human element will never totally disappeared—even from the most data-driven streaming platforms so you as a music creator can sleep better.
All good promotion starts organically, from great music and a real feeling.
So here’s everything you need to know about getting on playlists, how to approach playlisters and how to craft your promotional strategy after releasing. This won’t get you on Spotify’s Fresh Finds tomorrow… but it’ll put all the chances on your side to get your music heard.
Get Your Music on Streaming Platforms
The first step to getting your music featured anywhere is… you must release it! It might seem obvious, but many artists don’t know where to start. You might have your music up on Bandcamp or SoundCloud. And you’re wondering “How do I get my music on Spotify and Apple Music?”
Social media is becoming the almighty influencer so it’s a great time for DIY music creation. You don’t need to be signed to get your music distributed anymore. Independent artists can do it too now.
2. How to Get Verified
You’ve released your music-good but now the work begins. The next step is taking control of your artist accounts and show that you’re legit.
In a land far far away you needed to get 250 followers to earn the little blue verification check mark on your profile. Luckily, Spotify has opened verification to all artists.
Go to Spotify for Artists and click ‘Get Access.’
It takes a little while (a few days, or a week) but once they verify who you are, you get access to your artist profile. It lets you edit your photos, check your stats and more.
Go to iTunes Connect to link your iTunes account and claim your artist profile.
Click on the plus and add ‘Artists’. Search your name (your music has to be on there already. If not go back to step 1!).
It takes up to a week or so to get the verified status.
3. Build An Audience
Your music is up on all the right platforms with blue check marks—now what? It’s important to build a network of supporters both online and in person. Here’s how:
In real life get involved with people face to face. It’s still key. No matter how many algorithms govern our lives, fans and journalists are human beings first. Establish a genuine relationship (Musiclobal has tools to help you achieve this) to give yourself a better shot at a sustainable (once again, Musiclobal has tools for sustainability in music) and successful journey for your music. Your first supporters are the ones who get you off the ground: your friends, family and internet pals (like that one Twitter or Instagram friend who likes all your posts…I know you have one).
Remember: to get fans, you gotta be a fan! Exchanging music and compliments with other fellow musicians you admire is a fantastic way to build your network!
Cross-promote with everyone in your network and build a community and following organically. On an everyday basis music creators don’t like to give to get-look at your last few posts and look at the comments. The more you give the more value you will get back from your fellow musicians. Always think of 51/49… thank you Gary Vee.
Getting and using the right social media profiles is important whether you like social media or not. Get a few that you can manage and keep them updated: Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, SoundCloud or Bandcamp.
Make a good artist website and artist bio
Get your friends to follow your Facebook fan page by clicking "Invite Friends"
Link all your profiles together. Put all your social media links on Facebook, SoundCloud and on your website. These are the spaces that keep your momentum up if you maintain them. Share your story and your process, it all counts. But don’t be spammy. The best rule-of-thumb is to treat your fans like your close friends—if you’d be excited to share it with your friends, then share it with your fans. You wouldn’t spam your friends 5 times a day with a “check out my Soundcloud” post. So don’t do it to your fans either.
4. Make your own playlists
Dive in head first and get to playlisting! Chances are, streaming platforms, playlisters and fans will appreciate it-and, they help to build your story as an artist. Make it thematic (e.g. your influences) or genre-specific (something you know well). Think about how you can naturally fit in 1-2 of your own songs. But don’t make it only about you! Show your taste and how your track fits with other awesome music. Add 30-100 songs by other artists that work well with yours.
If you don’t know how to do it, check out these helpful guides:
And of course, don’t forget to share your playlist on social media and get your fans to follow it! Reach out to the artists you’ve included and mention that you like their stuff. This will encourage some nice cross-promo and the opportunity to reach new audiences with your music. Remember, ORGANIC GROWTH!
5. Know the Right Playlists
Knowing the playlist landscape is essential for promoting your music in the right places. Spotify recently reported that there’s over 2 Billion playlists on Spotify.
That’s a lot of lists… to narrow the scope a smidgen, here’s what you need to know about where to look for listing opportunities.
The Big Guys
But let’s be real: official Playlists are not easy to get on. The playlist editors who make them have their own way of selecting songs—digging on blogs, having industry relationships, keeping an eye on new releases and looking at the data for what gets traction on their platform.
So what’s the solution? Start small. Reach out and submit your tracks to independent blogs (Musiclobal) and playlist curators you follow and trust. Their playlists are often the launchpad to bigger playlists. Do your research and find playlists that fit the genre of your song. Search the major streaming platforms directly or use sites like Playlists.net. Actually listen to their playlists and suggest where your music would fit best before you reach out. Keep it personal.
6. Get Press Coverage
Even in the age of data-driven success stories, it still matters to have press and music journalists on your side. It’s the human seal of approval that gets you noticed by new fans and maybe even those official playlist editors.
When your release is ready and you’re about to distribute it, do some housekeeping:
Update your social media profiles (e.g. Add a line like: New album ‘Let’s Go’ dropping next month!)
Think of approaching blogs (Musiclobal) with an exclusive release
Make an exclusive music video, sample pack, tutorial or mix to go along with your project
Remember journalists are humans. Build relationships with music writers before you want something from them. You have something in common: A love of music. Start a conversation first, suggest your music second.
Blogs To Reach Out To
If it’s your first release, start with smaller local blogs. Trust me, THEY COUNT! A placement on ANY blog (Musiclobal’s blog coverage) is an important asset for your press kit and music bio. There’s no such thing as small peanuts when you’re just starting out.
7. Approach Playlisters
The key with approaching playlist editors is getting your track in the right ears at the right time. When your song is in the hands of someone who loves it, it will be shared! Get Creative When Approaching Playlist Editors. A simple cold email might not work—so get creative. Introduce yourself in person if you can-it’s the best. Festivals often include panels and workshops in addition to performances. Don’t skip them. If an in-person meeting isn’t in the cards, online reach out can work as well, but remember: Aim to start a meaningful and legitimate interaction. A good conversation (about something other than your music on their playlist) goes a long way.
Get In Touch With User Generated Playlist Curators. A playlist is usually associated to the name of the curator, look them up. If you find them, don’t lead with “can you put my track in your playlist.” Work up to it. Say why you are approaching them specifically. Start a real relationship based on your mutual love of
8. Don’t Rely On One Single Platform
Don’t get too focused on one single platform or playlist. Try to hit as many listeners as possible—you’ll have all the more chances to get heard. Put a free preview of your track on SoundCloud and add a ‘Buy or Stream Link.’ Give it to your DJ friends to play in their sets and radio shows. Send it out to online radio stations. Like I said before, every little thing counts.
Keep it Real
It’s great to try and promote yourself online and hit all the playlists big and small.
By putting all the chances on your side—distributing music, getting verified, making your own playlists, reaching out to tastemakers and playlisters—you’ll put yourself one step closer for getting listed. Remember that there’s no perfect recipe. Your music must be good, and luck is an ingredient too-sometime it enters the equation. Face-to-face and real connections by playing shows and participating in the community can push luck further in your favor.
It’s hard work and it doesn’t happen overnight, but it all pays off eventually.