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Curious about the Different Types of Spotify Playlists?
Networking and music certainly go hand in hand.
In the past it was those face to face interactions that were vital to your success, and though they still are, it’s the online networking aspect that is becoming more powerful and it’s important to learn how to leverage these online platforms to your advantage.
Remember the days of aspiring to have your music heard on the radio…
Well those aspirations are still understandable, and radio is still important, but when thinking about your music distribution strategy, you have to consider how your target audience consumes music on a regular basis.
Having a strong marketing plan in place can help you to identify the right opportunities to capitalize on to get your music heard and shared. Let’s just say spamming your rap demo to that country station isn’t exactly a strategic move or a good use of your time.
I, for example, was so caught up on the idea of Soundcloud and thought it was the key place for promoting my music online. However, I was bombarded by friends asking when my music would be available on Spotify which I was under utilizing at the time.
I had to rethink my distribution strategy and consider where my fans actually consume music and if it isn’t on Soundcloud then I better adjust. Not to mention, the monetization benefits provided by Spotify as opposed to Soundcloud, it would have been silly not to reconsider my approach.
With the advent of streaming platforms like Spotify, in today’s market it’s much easier for artists to get in front of their target audience and get placements that can help grow their music career.
Although these streaming platforms make it easier for artists to reach their audience they come with a considerable amount of work to get noticed.
There are more people than ever making music and uploading to these platforms so you need to make sure your product is unique.
Your song needs to have a niche in the world, this will help your music get added to a playlist. One key aspect of Spotify that artists must utilize is Spotify Playlists.
Your goal should be to get placements on playlists that primarily suit your style of music but there are also playlists suited for moods such as grief or happiness and playlists catered for themes such as getting ready, long drives, partying etc.
These playlists often showcase a mixture of genres so if you have a song that would fit these moods or themes search them out also.
Below we outline the different types of playlists out there and how you can work to leverage them within your distribution strategy. The more playlists you can get on the more you’ll get noticed.
1. Curated Spotify playlists
Curated playlists are the most sought after playlists from an artist’s perspective and usually the “Go To” playlists we turn to as music fans in search of the hottest music.
These playlists are run by curators who work for Spotify and tend to be a lot harder for an indie artist to get onto due to a number of factors. If you were to ask one of these curators what the secret is to getting your song on their list, the resounding answer seems to be “We will find you”.
Essentially what they are saying is “Of course we will have you on our playlist” IF you are already creating a buzz. As your streams increase the chances of being added to these playlists increases.The factors these curators are looking at when selecting songs for these playlists are:
Do you have a good following?
Is there buzz being generated around your single/album/artist page?
Are tastemakers and other playlists aware of you and including you on their playlists?
These are a few of the things curators are looking at but let’s be honest; these playlists are largely filled with well established and label supported artists.
By no means is it impossible for you to land a spot on these playlists but it will take some work and more often than not it comes down to who you know in connection with the hype being generated around you and your music.
If you want to get onto one of these playlists, simple outreach may not do the trick.
You will certainly have to grow your organic following, induce engagement among your fan base and get on to a number of other different types of Spotify playlists to be discussed below.
These other playlists are a lot easier to obtain and will provide you with the stream and buzz increase that the curated playlists are looking for.
With that said, be honest with yourself and where you are at in your music career. It’s important to have realistic expectations and focus on growth while staying motivated.
If you are just starting out and don’t have a large following do not spend all your time and energy reaching out to these large curated playlists.
Keep in mind everyone is striving to be featured on these playlists so the amount of submissions they receive is quite high.
Hence why the whole mantra of “we will find you” seems to resonate throughout the curator world.
If you are a more established artist or feel you can crack one of these playlists, be sure to check out how you can find their contact info with these easy and actionable steps.
2. Algorithmic Playlists
Next on the list are two more playlists that are controlled by Spotify, Discover Weekly and Release Radar. These are heavily based on the tastes and habits of listeners and if you can get your songs on them you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Both of these lists are very important to your success on Spotify for the mere fact that users are falling in love with these playlists and look forward to receiving them with sheer anticipation.
Meaning that you’re being heard by new audiences and an audience who is receptive to what Spotify is suggesting they will like. Essentially free promotion from Spotify!
Unfortunately knocking on doors and trying to force your way on to these playlists is nothing more than a pipe dream because they’re auto-generated by an algorithm. The ironic thing is that these playlists are the ones you need to be shooting for more so than those flashy curated playlists we just discussed.
Why is that you ask?
Inclusion on these playlists means that you have been doing the proper legwork of getting people to follow you and your music, you’re generating buzz and getting other playlist placements. In doing so you are giving Spotify a reason to promote you to an audience who would be a great fit for your music.
So if you are not sending hints to Spotify that your music is noteworthy (follows, buzz, placements, etc) then you are not giving them a reason to promote you further.
So what do these two playlists represent?
Release Radar is a Spotify playlist that users are sent every Friday. The list comes updated with two hours of fresh new songs and relevant tracks from artists that you have shown interest in as a Spotify user.
So if someone has been continually coming back to your music recently you can bet Spotify will be including one of your tracks on their playlist. The way to get your music on Release Radar is having fans follow you on Spotify.
Discover weekly on the other hand is slightly different as this is sent to users every Monday and is chosen based on the users listening history as well as other Spotify users with similar taste profiles in music.
It’s like a music subscription box metaphorically speaking. You don’t know what you are getting but chances are you will like it based on your taste in music.
The more followers you have, the more fans who’ll never miss out on your new tunes. The more people who enjoy a new release early on, the more Spotify will serve that music up on more algorithmic playlists. So put in the work required and this could very well be a possibility for you.
3. Branded playlists
Branded Playlists are third party playlists that are not generated by Spotify but by bigger entities such as top blogs, record labels, music magazines,managers, agents, etc. These playlists are quickly becoming modern day “radio stations.”
These playlists have striking similarities with Spotify Curated playlists for a couple of reasons.
For one they have brand recognition and with that comes an immense popularity and again that grand thought of “if only I can land a placement on this playlist, how great things will be.”
Yet the harsh reality again is that it’s every artist’s goal to be added to these playlists and this creates a bottleneck of submissions to these playlists and makes it challenging to get added. This is why you want to strive to increase your followers and make sure your product stands out.
Let’s face it these entities are about leverage and how they can further their agendas, so unless you have something to bring to the table, usually in the form of a strong following or marketing dollars, then it will be harder for your music to be considered.
Now by no means am I telling you to not submit your music to these platforms but be advised as to what you are stacked up against. Addition heavily depends on where you are in your career and if you are less established this will certainly be a lot more difficult but by no means is it impossible.
One caveat to this however is that some of these playlists want to be seen as tastemakers meaning that they have an ear to what is growing in popularity and on the rise.
In order for a tastemaker to maintain this image they can’t just focus on established artists so these types of playlists will be more open to hearing out artists they may not have heard of yet or who are not as established in their careers.
What I would suggest is to focus on playlists that are lesser known or on the rise. For example an up and coming record label with only a few acts under their belt that has a decent playlist or a promotion company in a similar position.
Your strategy should focus on being realistic and focus on what is going to get you the most gain for your effort.
4. Your Own Playlists
Now this feature on Spotify is something you definitely need to be taking advantage of. It is essentially cutting out the middleman and creating your own platform to showcase your music in front of an attentive audience.
It’s actually quite interesting how we will do whatever it takes to piggyback off of other peoples success instead of creating our own path.
In my opinion I sort of agree with the curators that say “we will find you”. It’s funny how we talk about taking back the power from the labels but yet here we are forming our own barriers to entry when we don’t have to.
We in a way are treating these playlist as a label and we so desperately feel that getting on to one will change our lives.
It might but in the same glance it might not. So why not use the resources available to you and eliminate that mindset of someone needing to do something for you in order for you to succeed.
With Spotify’s feature to create your own playlists you have the ability to create a platform that will provide you with the very audience you are trying to obtain. Will it be easy? No but if you put the time in you essentially will have created an asset that nobody can take away from you.
Hear me out for a second… You reach out to 100 playlists and maybe land a couple placements, or you spend $100s of dollars, possibly more, to get placement. That’s great and all and you may get a bit of a boost from your efforts.
However, what happens next month when that playlist decides to take you off their list? Or they stop keeping up with and promoting the playlist?
Or the playlist service you are using shuts down due to legal issues that Spotify deems out of scope with their terms and policies? You can read more about this very incident below with a company called Spotlister who was forced by Spotify to shut down its operations.
All of these things are a reality and there is nothing you can do about it. I suggest stop looking for a quick fix and ensure that you are in control as much as possible.
By creating your own playlists you are in control and the success of that playlist depends on you and the amount of effort you decide to put in to take it where you want it to go. These playlist become like your songs and albums and should be treated as such, as assets to help further your career.
You should build a playlist of your own based on music that relates to the music you are making as a musician and work hard to grow the following of these playlists. From there you have the power to strategically include your songs and still maintain the integrity of your list.
Funny thing is, if done right you will have people knocking at your door trying to get on your list which is a great spot to be in and provides a number of other opportunities for you as an artist.
Read this post on how to develop your own Spotify playlists and this post on how to properly promote and leverage them.
5. User Generated Playlists
Now I personally feel like these playlists get overlooked the most along with the playlists you can create on your own. I say this because I do not think people see the value in these types of playlists for a number of valid reasons.
For one there is no brand recognition, they usually have a really small following and the person behind them is usually just doing it for fun.
The fact of the matter is though, you need these small wins to get you to the big wins. As they say slow money is better than no money and in this case slow growth is better than no growth at all.
These playlists have become an important entry port for indie artists and serve as a great starting out point because they can generate a lot of followers. The challenge is that there are a lot of these playlists around.
The trick is finding the person who made/controls the playlist and getting in touch with them. It’s a lot like cold calling. Search for playlists that have lyrical content that you fit, genres that you fit, moods that you fit etc. Don’t overlook the smaller playlists- they can grow overtime and lead to more and more followers.
If your goal is to get on those curated and algorithmic playlists then you need this traction for a number of reasons that we mentioned above. This will help prove to Spotify that there is engagement around your music and help you to start getting considered for more prominent playlists.
In any case always be polite and use some tact when approaching any playlist for that matter. You want to develop a relationship and not just go in for the kill right away even though that can seem tempting, I caution you to avoid this approach at all costs. I suggest you read this post on how to approach the playlist you want to get on.
6. Collaborative Playlists
These are playlists that are started by others or that you can create but allow anyone to add to the playlist. It is a cool way to create a bit of community and have your songs on a playlist that others are seeing.
No there is no definitive data on how much these types of playlist help you with Spotify’s algorithm but one can be certain it doesn’t hurt to be on them.
I am sure that the ease at which you can just place your music on them can’t hold much weight but it certainly is better to be on them than not.
A variation of this that I believe would be a much stronger strategy is to get a few friends together or other musicians you know of and develop a playlist together.
Granted this won’t be collaborative in the sense that others can openly add to it but at least this way you know all the people adding to the list and have a better chance of monitoring it and having everyone cross promote it.
I have also seen this with collaborative albums where people will create a playlist for music they have worked on together and promote it together.
Final Thoughts On The Different Types of Spotify Playlists
In closing, I strongly suggest that you focus on strategies that provide you with the most control in the end. I personally would focus on building your own playlists and giving them the attention they need so that they become an asset for you down the road.
With that said there is certainly merit in hustling to find potential playlists that you can submit your music to and get an extra boost in your following and engagement.
Just remember that you get what you put in and sometimes the easy way doesn’t always amount to the desired result.
Have a plan and strategy in mind and make sure that you are using your time effectively to arrive at your desired outcome.
If you found this post helpful be sure to share it and let us know in the comments what your experience has been like trying to get on the different types of playlists discussed!
Music With Flavor Staff
Helping You Taste Success In Music