How to Get Featured in Spotify Playlists
“What I dream of is an art of balance.”
— Henri Matisse
Spotify playlists are the most direct route to big steaming numbers. And yetI hear a story much too often: a producer finishes a new song, they send it to their distributor to go up on Spotify, and on release day, they just don’t get the streams on the track that they think it deserves. It’s tough to not feel a little disappointed. Heck, I know I’ve been there (more than once I'm sure).
The key to getting plays on Spotify isn’t begging your friends to share the track on social media, and it’s definitely not running Instagram ads to get it in front of more people. The key to getting plays on Spotify is getting featured in Spotify playlists. 68% of all plays on Spotify are generated through playlists — simply put, get on playlists, and you’ll get loads more plays.
This article is all about how you can get your music onto more Spotify playlists. I’m breaking down what types of Spotify playlists there 7 essential tips to help you get your music featured on Spotify playlists more often, and my #1 key to getting Spotify playlist features. Let’s dive in…
Types of Spotify Playlists
There are two types of playlists on Spotify: Spotify-Curated Playlists and User-Curated Playlists.
Spotify-Curated Playlists are playlists that are controlled in-house at Spotify. Some of these playlists are created by algorithms, such as Release Radar and Discover Weekly. For others, Spotify employs real-life A&R people to maintain the playlists.
Yes, there is a real person at Spotify who controls what songs go into Mint!
Then there are User-Curated Playlists on Spotify which are created and maintained by users on the platform. These are the playlists that you and I could create right now.
While most of these playlists are extremely small and only have a few followers, some are huge (and bigger than some of the Spotify-curated playlists).
Record labels can run some of these as well. Armada Music (user: armadamusicofficial) maintains dozens of playlists, some with over 100,000 followers. Individual users can have big followings, too: user UOAK has almost 100,000 followers across his set of playlists.
How To Submit To Spotify Playlists
There is a formal process for submitting music to Spotify-Curated playlists. You must submit your track through Spotify For Artists, which is a suite of tools designed for creators on Spotify. The steps you need to follow to submit music through Spotify For Artists are straightforward:
Step 1 – Creating your Spotify for Artists account HERE.
Step 2 – Go to the Music tab, and click "Upcoming". This is where you’ll find all the upcoming music that you’ve uploaded to Spotify. Not sure how to upload music to Spotify? Check out our article about how to do it.
Step 3 – Fill out a questionnaire about the song. You’ll be asked a bunch of questions about the song’s genre, mood, and other characteristics. This helps get the song to the correct A&R people at Spotify.
That’s it! Not too bad...
Submitting To User-Curated Playlists
Submitting your music to user-curated playlists is a bit more… well, manual. This process is quite similar to the process of submitting music to record labels:
Step 1 – First, you need to identify the playlists you want to send your music to. The best practice is to find playlists that feature music similar to yours. As with labels, the bigger the playlist, usually the more difficult it is to get your music featured.
Step 2 – Find the contact information for the playlist curator. Spotify doesn’t have a Direct Message feature, so this typically means looking for the curator’s presence on other social media platforms. Take UOAK, for instance: a quick Google search reveals his Instagram page, where you could send a DM to ask for submission info.
Step 3 – Send your track directly to the curators, with a personal message. Keep it short and sweet: one sentence about you, one sentence about the track, and a polite ask to have the track featured in the playlist.
I have to address an important topic here: pay-for-play services...
Most of us have received an email or an Instagram DM offering to guarantee Spotify plays for a certain amount of money. In the vast majority of cases, I do not recommend using these services — many of them are scams, and most over-promise and under-achieve on results.
If you want to spend money to get more Spotify plays, I recommend investing in building your own playlist. You can then use your playlist to promote your own music and do “spot-swaps” with other playlist curators.
More on this in a little bit…
7 Essential Tips for Getting Playlisted
Now that we know what types of playlists exist on Spotify and how to submit music, let’s go through some tips to help you maximize your chance of getting featured on Spotify playlists.
It’s easy to get verified on Spotify. That beautiful blue check makes your page look professional and legitimate — plus, you need to be verified to submit music to Spotify-curated playlists. HERE is the link to get started. I recommend doing this today!
Cast a Wide Net
Unlike submitting music to record labels, where it is (sort of) a faux pas to submit a track to multiple labels at once, submitting your song to many playlists is a great idea. Maintain a spreadsheet of playlists, curators, and their contact information so you can easily send out your music to lots of playlists with each release. You spend SO much time producing a record, why not spend a few hours per song sending emails and Instagram DMs?
Write Effective Outreach Messages
This is absolutely essential.
In many cases, writing a concise, personal message will be the difference between getting playlisted or not. There are four elements to a great outreach message: A brief description of who you are, a brief description of the track, a link to the track, and, a mention of the name of the playlist (so they know you aren’t copying, pasting, and spamming your message to everyone under the sun).
And please folks, proofread your message before sending it...
Reach Out Before, On, Or Immediately After Release Day
Curators want the newest, freshest music. If your song is already over two weeks old, it’s best to start planning for the next release.
By that point, it's likely already old news...
With Spotify-Curated playlists, you want to submit music via Spotify For Artists well ahead of release day — at a minimum, you need to submit your track to Spotify-curated playlists a minimum of 7 days ahead of the release!
As for User-Curated playlists, many curators are inundated with music and might not be able to check out your track for a couple of weeks after you send it. Submitting ahead of time makes sure that the music is still new, even if they don’t check it out until a few weeks after your submission.
Maintain A Great Visual Image
Let’s say a curator likes your track and clicks your profile: what do they see?
Make sure you have a clean, professional banner photo on your Spotify artist page. That, along with clean album art on the track itself, will help the curator know that they are featuring a professional artist.
It's a simple step, but I'm constantly astounded to see how many producers think that all you need is for the music to speak for itself when really the visual aspect plays a significant role in how your music is perceived.
Nobody wants to feature an artist who only pops up once in a blue moon.
Curators want to feature the next big thing: if they playlist you today, they are hoping that next month, you’ll send them another great track. Regularly releasing is helpful for a variety of reasons, but showing curators that you are consistently releasing quality music will only help you get more features.
Network, Network, Network
With the exception of a handful of algorithm playlists in-house at Spotify, the overwhelming majority of playlists are curated by real people. Real people who, like other real people, you can talk to, get to know, and who want to help out their friends….
You know what, this tip is so important that I’m going to finish the article with a whole section just about networking…
The #1 Key to Getting Featured in Spotify Playlists: Networking
Have you heard of Austin Kramer? Austin was the in-house A&R at Spotify who curated ALL Dance/Electronic playlists from 2015-2020.
Every. Single. Electronic. Playlist.
That’s right. He was on the payroll at Spotify, and his job was to maintain all the electronic music playlists. It was an unspoken rule amongst the upper echelon of producers that you HAD to be friends with Austin — if you were, you could DM him your music and he would put it in the playlists. That would get you streams, clout, and ultimately accelerate your career.
If you can pull this off with the in-house Spotify curators, you are golden (Austin has since left Spotify - sorry!).
End of story.
But of course, we can’t all do that. The next best option is networking with the owners of User-Curated playlists. I recommend following these four steps:
- Meet curators online — We’ve talked all about sending personalized email pitches. This is absolutely essential to building online connections. Be sure to actually follow the playlists, and maybe try giving them a couple of shoutouts on your Instagram story before sending in your own music for consideration.
- Meet Curators In-Person — Playlist curators are all around you. Go out to events in your local city to meet other producers and fans of the music — many people have their own playlists. Music conferences like Miami Music Week and Amsterdam Dance Event are hotbeds of playlist curators. Meet people in person, exchange contact information, and keep in touch with new music. Never underestimate the power of in-person connections.
- Build Your Own Playlists — Nobody likes the person who is always asking for something. What can you offer? Well, your own playlist of course!
Start your own playlist that features music in the genre you produce. Update it once a week with new music, and if you can, spend $3 per day on Instagram ads to promote the playlist. With effective ads, you’ll have a couple of thousand followers before you know it — put your own music at the top of the playlist, and offer to swap spots with other playlist curators to help get your releases into more playlists.
Public Thank You Shout-Outs add a personal touch when you finally land some placement. Did you get playlisted? Congrats! Take a screenshot and post it to your Instagram story. Tag the playlist owner in a quick thank you shoutout. This helps get your song more visibility and gives the curator more return on their investment because their playlist appears in front of all your Instagram followers.
Getting playlisted takes some time and effort. But at the end of the day, it’s only a fraction of the time you’re putting into creating a track. Remember, it’s that extra little effort that will get your track the visibility it deserves.
Final Thoughts on How to Get Featured in Spotify Playlists
Spotify is an incredibly powerful platform for growth, and you have to learn to play by its rules if you want to succeed. But the reality of it all is that you won't even have a seat at the table or a fighting chance of getting playlists unless your music is damn incredible.
And Hyperbits Masterclass is there to help you get there.
My entire mission at the Masterclass is to get you sounding as good, if not better than your favorite artists. And if your favorite acts have no trouble getting thousands of plays across dozens of playlists, then you can do it too. All it takes is having a professional in your corner every step of the way, and that's my entire mission.