Spotify can be a very effective tool for any artist who’s interested in reaching a larger audience. The streaming platform currently has 70 million paying subscribers worldwide and leads the pack amongst similar competitors like Pandora, Tidal and Apple Music.
Spotify is often criticised for the percentages it pays out and the millions of streams you need to see any serious direct income. While this criticism is indeed justified, in this article we’re going to put that aside to focus on some of the real value the platform can offer to you. We’ll look at some of the tools, ideas and creative ways you can use Spotify to help build a sustainable career in music.
Spotify For Artists
First things first, let’s take a look at Spotify’s artist portal. Spotify For Artists is one of the most effective ways to utilize the platform. You can create a profile which will help you get your artist page verified, easily manage your data and learn important things about your fanbase. Spotify for Artists profile gives you a platform to promote new content, share custom playlists, and more.
Once you create your Spotify for Artists profile and it is approved, you’ll receive automatic verification, which will make you more discoverable among other artists and boost your position within Spotify’s algorithms.
You can use Spotify for Artists’ tools to upload a profile photo & add a bio. Personalising your Spotify profile will make you stand out to potential fans and allow them to find out more about you without leaving the app. Try to update it frequently and make sure to highlight any major achievements or announcements.
When choosing an image, try to make it something that is easily recognisable even at small sizes. This is particularly important if there are other artists who have a similar name on the platform.
The bio section allows up to 1,500 characters to tell fans who you are. You can use tags to link to other Spotify content like albums that inspired you, artists you’ve collaborated with, or playlists you’re featured on. Be sure to add your Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, or Wikipedia links here too.
Another massive benefit of a Spotify for Artists profile is the access to a custom analytics dashboard that provides real-time data about how your music is performing. Using this feature, artists can find out which of their songs are performing best, how fans are discovering their music, and which playlists their songs are appearing on. The analytics dashboard also shows key demographics, so artists can learn the gender, age, and locations of their listeners.
Use Artist’s Pick
Artist’s Pick is a tool that enables you to feature music, pinned at the top of your profile. You can make a track, an album, a playlist or even an event the main focus of your profile for up to two weeks. You can also update this at any time. The optional inclusion of a personal message can be a fantastic way to engage with fans and draw their attention to a particular release. You should use this tool often, not just when you have a new release. How about featuring some content from another jazz artist you enjoy listening to?
Plan and Advertise Tours/Shows
Spotify For Artists allows you to see exactly where your listeners are based at the click of a button. This can provide you invaluable information when booking tours or trying to convince a new promoter in another city or country to take a chance on you.
Looking for new venues to play? Why not check out the section on your Spotify profile which shows the other artists your fans are listening to. Then do some research to see where these artists are playing. You’ll probably find some new venues who would be open to booking you for a show.
Another good practice is to advertise the gigs you’ll be playing right on your Spotify profile. The easiest way to do this is to connect your Ticketmaster, Songkick, Eventbrite or AXS profile through the dashboard. The listings on Spotify will be updated automatically every time you announce a new event. Not only will anyone who checks you out on Spotify see them, but followers who are based in the places where you’ll be performing will be notified of your shows.
If you set up a Merchbar page, you can connect it to sell merchandise (CD’s, Vinyl, T-shirts, Mugs etc.) directly from your Spotify page. Giving fans a seamless way to do this could lead to a big increase in sales.
Spotify Codes are a new way to easily advertise your music. Think QR Codes, but a lot more aesthetically pleasing! You can create a code for any piece of music on Spotify, and users can use the app to scan the code and be brought directly to that music. You can add these codes to social media posts, gig posters, emails or press releases.
Playlists have become an important method of music discovery, allowing fans to explore different genres or moods and to find out about artists they might otherwise have missed. Getting on the right Spotify playlist can generate a significant boost to an artist’s career and income.
There are 4 types of playlists on Spotify that you can be featured on. These are:
- Your own playlists
- Other people’s playlists
- Algorithmic Spotify playlists
- Editorial Spotify Playlists
Your own Playlists
Making your own playlists is a great way to connect with your fans and other artists. Playlists can help you to promote your newest releases while supporting other artists and showcasing your sound or influences. Custom playlists add a personal touch to your page by giving your fans an inside look into the music that you love. Why not make a playlist of your favourite jazz songs released in the last year? This has the potential to lead to cross-promotion and possibly new collaboration opportunities.
Other people’s playlists
These are any playlists that are created by another user, band or brand. Each playlist will have it’s own varying number of followers, ranging from a few to thousands. You can encourage your fans to add you to their own playlists, or collaborate with another artist to cross promote to each of your audiences.
These are playlists that are automatically created by the Spotify algorithm.
The algorithm gathers data on how many people save your music to their Spotify libraries or playlists, as well as the number of followers you have, and uses this data to decide whether or not to place your songs on one of these playlists:
Songs on this personalised playlist are included based on a user’s listening history and that of other Spotify users with the same taste in music.
Songs on this personalised playlist are included based on the genres preferred by individual listeners — i.e., if they listen to a lot of jazz, Spotify is more likely to include jazz tracks on their Daily Mix playlist.
This playlist is updated every Friday with up to two hours of new or relevant tracks from artists that a user has shown interest in.
These are playlists containing tracks chosen by Spotify’s editorial team — you can recognize these by looking for a little Spotify logo in the top-left corner of the playlist’s cover image. These playlists often have millions of followers and typically cover a genre (e.g “UK Hip-Hop”) or showcase new music (e.g “New Music Friday”).
How to get on playlists
The easiest playlist to get on is your own, so start there. Making a ‘My Greatest Hits’ playlist probably won’t resonate with many people, so try to include your tracks among other artist’s that you love. It could be ‘Favourite Irish Jazz’ or ‘My Influences’. Try to be creative with it.
When you’ve done that, it’s time to promote it. Invite friends and family to follow your playlist, and then share it with your fans. If you have a mailing list, consider sending out a newsletter. Share it out on all of your social networks and embed it into your website.
Getting on other people’s playlists
Curated tastemaker playlists
Much like radio in its hay day, getting your songs on a popular curated ‘tastemaker’ playlist can be hard work. First you need to find your niche, then approach the playlisters working in that niche. It might be tempting to approach curators of massive pop playlists with your jazz single, but realistically you’re wasting your time.
Once you identify the tastemakers making playlists in your niche, it’s time to reach out. Treat this like any PR pitch and don’t forget to follow up. Here’s a freebie. Jazzfuel, the fantastic website run by Matt Fripp, has a streamlined submission process for their playlists which you can access here.
Instead of focusing entirely on ‘tastemakers’, it’s also important to encourage ordinary Spotify listeners to add your music to their lists.
Doing this drastically improves the odds of your song ending up on an algorithmic playlist. The fastest and easiest way to increase the number of people with your songs on playlists is to start with friends, family and peers who will usually be more than happy to add your tracks to their playlists.
When deciding whether or not to add you to an algorithmic playlist, Spotify looks at all of the data associated with your music, including:
- The genre
- How many users are streaming it
- What other music those users like
- How many Spotify followers you have
- How many playlists your music is on
Therefore, to get on to an algorithmic playlist, you’ll need to reach out to your friends, existing fanbase and relevant curators to increase the number of track saves, playlist additions and followers you have on the platform.
Getting on a Spotify Editorial playlist
With Spotify for Artists, you can pitch an upcoming, unreleased song to their playlist editors. As an added bonus, they’ll also add your pitched song to your followers' Release Radar playlists. Here’s how you pitch a song:
- Log in to Spotify for Artists on desktop.
- Use any of these ways to find and pitch unreleased music:
- At the top of the Home tab, select PITCH A SONG.
- In the Music tab, under UPCOMING, select PITCH A SONG next to the relevant release.
- Choose a song and fill out the info. The more info they get, the better chance your song has.
Keep these tips in mind
- Get your music in early to give their editors a chance to listen.
- You can pitch one song per artist profile at a time.
- You can’t pitch compilations.
- You can’t pitch if you’re a featured artist on the song.
- The editors may choose to feature a different song from your release on their playlist.
If your song is selected to be added to one of their playlists, Spotify will send an email to let you know. You can also check the Playlists tab in Spotify for Artists when your release goes live, and explore detailed stats about it.
While you're updating your Spotify, be sure to head over here to submit a track to IMC's own 'This Is Irish Jazz' playlist!