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Spotify Playlists: Myth or Powerful Marketing Machine?

Spotify is like an open source content machine in which both Spotify in-house editors and everyday users can curate content. Among the user generated playlists –  some Spotify user playlists that have gone insanely viral and have a massive fan base of hundreds of thousands of users.

As time went by, these user generated playlists have become an excellent way for new music to be heard. Spotify playlisters became influencers and a new eco-system was born.

Along with this great new power that these private curators suddenly had, came also a handful of responsibilities. Playlist curators had to start organizing, branding, bringing in new music, taking out old music and so forth. So this playlisting hobby soon became a full time job, and this means money needs to be made.  

Introducing – Spotify Playlist Placementing! Artists pitch their songs to playlisters and the playlisters give it a listen. Does the music fit in any of their playlists? Did it make an impact? Hey but I paid for this!

Services such as Submithub, Playlist Push, and Indieflow, have a network of playlisters to pitch music to.

The idea is always the same: Artists pay X dollars to get pitched to Y playlists. After a campaign that can take up to a few weeks (depending on the service), you get added to any playlist that liked your stuff. The playlist curators guarantee to listen to the track and if it fits they will place it in the playlist. 

The purpose of this article is to reveal some useful insights about the benefits and the risks of paid submission to playlists. It’s a roller coaster of emotions, so it’s crucial you know what to expect!

 

The Big Trade Off:  Playlist Curators & Musicians

As many of us artists would love to get into these playlists, there is a big debate about
the efficiency of playlist placements. Yes, it can get to a wide audience, yes you can get your song heard by thousands and sometimes even more, however, is this audience loyal to you or to the curator?

The general answer is: the audience is loyal to the curator. However the law of large numbers applies to music as well. Among the thousands of listeners – a small percentage will become your listeners. And in these numbers, a small percentage can be all you need. 
Here are a few pointers to help you base your decision, the next time you consider playlist pitching.

The Listener to Follower Ratio

Your followers are most likely your true fans. These are the people that didn’t only listen to your songs, but who also want to follow your new releases, concerts etc.

Spotify’s algorithm likes this variable and defines the quality or the “hypeness” of an artist through this ratio. Listeners divided by followers. This ratio is an important factor of your quality in the algorithm’s eyes, and paid placement on playlists does not help you much with that.

A playlist curator’s follower base is there to listen to their taste in music. The audience will listen to the track but not in all cases become followers. Most listeners will do add to your listener count without actively following. 

An artist promoting their music on paid placement playlists will likely have a high listener count, but a very low follower count, resulting in…. (drum roll) …. A very low listener follower ratio.  

While this can be a minus – do not be alarmed. Getting your music heard  is just as important as maintaining a high listener to follower ratio. Numbers are not everything.

The Spotify Save Button

Curated playlists allow listeners to click save on a specific song. Once a user has clicked “save” it means they liked your song. YAY!

Listeners like adding newly discovered tracks to their playlists, or just keeping these songs in their library where they sometimes shuffle play. Although this is not a follower – it is someone who clicked save on your music. 

Branding

Releasing a song and getting it in several playlists can get your number of streams peaking. It is definitely fun seeing a new song getting thousands of plays through playlist pitching. But does it give you any meaningful results?

Depends how you look at it. Streams won’t get you anywhere in your music career unless it’s backed up by followers or listeners. It can give you a better look though. If you’ve pitched your hit song, and you want people to listen to this song, most users will go to your top popular songs and give them a listen. Also stream numbers stay there. They don’t change every week or month. You’ve probably experienced a situation where a friend has recommended an artist, or you decided to give someone a listen. When you go into their artist profile, you will probably take a look at whats popular in streams and press play. 

Playlist pitching will give your hit song a good boost in stream numbers- a good way to make this song stand out.

Expectations and Understanding Results of Pitching to Playlisters:

Once you start a playlist campaign, a few things will happen. On average 5-10 percent of playlists pitched to will add your song to their playlist. If you pitch to 20 playlists don’t be surprised you weren’t added to one. If you do pitch to a decent number of playlists, your music will likely get added to at least a few and your listener numbers will rise. YES! 

After the initial rise in numbers you should expect  to see a slow down in listeners which will eventually result in a generated loyal fanbase.

 How do you know if your campaign was worth it? 

Always keep KPIs (key performance indicators) in mind. The most important metrics are: 

  • Followers
  • Saves
  • Listeners
  • Streams

Compare these numbers to your numbers before the launch of the campaign.

Conclusions
Playlist pitching can be a very powerful way to boost your streams. Paying for submissions is not the only way to do this. Spotting the right curators for your music and building relationships with them, is definitely something you can do on your own. Doing this properly is time consuming though, and is a whole topic within itself. In this article we’ve covered the main factors and measurable indicators that you should be aware of when starting a playlist campaign. Even if you had a successful campaign, it doesn’t mean you’re career is going to sky rocket. It’s another step towards building and growing your brand, so remember what to expect when planning your budget for this type of campaign, what to measure and always think long run.