There are a number of musicians out there – like Perrin Lamb, Helen Austin, and SEAWAVES – that are seeing considerable traction from being featured on curated Spotify playlists.
And we're not talking chump change either. Perrin Lamb actually earned $56,000 from one song on Spotify.
But the power of playlists is further-reaching than that, as getting featured on YouTube and Deezer can also lead to similar results.
In Lamb's case, his song wound up on Your Favorite Coffeehouse playlist created by the Spotify editorial team. It's not something he deliberately went after – his song was hand-picked, and hundreds of thousands of plays quickly turned into millions.
Let's not forget – when you retain ownership of your recordings, the payouts are better than if you were signed to a label or if you had to pay a publisher. This means streaming has the potential to be more beneficial for independent artists than signed artists..
And while not every artist is going to one day wake up to magically find themselves on a popular playlist, you should be starting to get a sense of how powerful a medium it can be. If you can get on the radar of influencers, tastemakers, and maybe even Spotify's own editorial team, you could make some real money from streaming.
Let's take a look at how you can get featured as an artist.
Figure Out Who The Tastemakers & Influencers Are
If you want to be proactive about getting featured, you're going to have to start reaching out to the people responsible for creating these playlists.
Keep in mind that this can be just about anybody, because any Spotify user can create a playlist. This means you're going to have to narrow your prospects a little.
Really think for a minute. Who has a vested interest in creating playlists to promote certain artists?
Labels? Studios? In-house curators? Radio stations and DJs? Magazines and entertainment publications? Music bloggers and reviewers? Publicists? Marketers? Managers? Brands? Fans?
Yes, all of the above, and many others. There might be political candidates that have certain songs picked out for their campaign themes. There might be some bands working together to promote each other's music. Influencers and tastemakers come in a variety of different forms.
At this point, it's worth opening a new spreadsheet to start making a list of leads to reach out to. Maybe some of them have playlists, maybe others don't. Don't worry too much about that right now. Just start plugging URLs and contact information into that spreadsheet. Search Google for independent studios and labels, music reviewers, music magazines, and so on.
But don't reach out just yet, because you need to…
Get Your Online Presence & Music in Order
Let's not jump ahead and start pitching to everyone under the sun. If you have a relaxing acoustic tune, and you're not targeting playlists that feature your kind of music, you're not going to have much luck getting featured. We need to be strategic and specific here.
And part of building that strategy involves cleaning up, polishing, or creating a professional online presence. If you don't look like a professional artist, you aren't going to be taken terribly seriously, right?
So get your website set up, put together an effective cut-and-paste bio, upload some high quality images, and post your upcoming show dates. Get everything looking neat and tidy.
And while you're at it, why not record something new? The better the quality of the music, the better chance you'll have at getting featured. I know, I know, “quality” is a bit subjective, but if you don't have great-sounding music, you're definitely going to diminish your chances of being featured. And while you're at it, make sure you actually have music on the platform you're hoping to get featured on.
Get in Touch with Curators
With the groundwork laid, you're ready to start reaching out to playlist curators. Remember the spreadsheet you created earlier? It's time to start working it.
Now is also a good time to be a little more selective about which influencers you reach out to. If you know they have playlists you would love to be on, then it's worth a try. If they don't have playlists that seem suitable to your particular style of music, then keep looking.
It may be worth sending curators a private link to previews of upcoming tracks, as people tend to like the “exclusive” nature of new releases. This can certainly work in your favor.
Also note: you might have to do quite a bit of research at this stage to find the right people to contact. Maybe you plugged in the right information in an earlier step, maybe you didn't, but the “right person” really depends on the organization or site you're reaching out to, so try to be as exact as you possibly can.
Then, send out a short email introducing yourself (don't forget to say “hi” first) letting them know who you are and what you're trying to do (i.e. get featured). Provide links to your music, and if possible, identify what playlist you think your music would play well on.
Finally, keep following up until you get a “yes” or a “no”. You must be persistent with follow up as people are busy, and even if they see your email, they might not be able to respond right away. Be nice though – don't say something like “I guess you just don't like me”, or “why the hell aren't you making time for me?”. Just send friendly reminders on a weekly basis.
If you do get featured, make sure to promote the playlist like crazy.
For those who noticed what was said earlier about anyone being able to create a Spotify playlist, yes, you can create your own, and that may be worth a try. If you collaborate with other artists and agree to promote each other, you never know what could happen.
For those that are serious about pursuing playlist success, keep in mind that getting featured will take work, and the results of your effort may not be immediately forthcoming. When you're strategizing around how to promote your music, be sure it's something you want to invest your time into, as there are no guarantees. Do your research and take the time to do it right.
Guest post: This post was written by Shaun Letang of Music Industry How To.