How to Get Your Song on Spotify Playlists: 10 Crucial Steps to Follow
Landing that dream record deal with a big label can seem like an impossible mission in 2023. With so much competition and so many new artists making waves online, music industry execs already have their inboxes full. So how can new artists stand out from the crowd and get the attention of both fans and industry professionals?
One route is to go viral on the internet, and cause enough of a stir on YouTube or TikTok that labels will be lining up to sign you, like it happened with artists like The Weeknd or Justin Bieber. But that’s easier said than done, and while you should always try to find ways to grab people’s attention, you really shouldn’t rely solely on luck and online trends to get your music across.
A great option to get your name out there and your music in people’s headphones is to get featured on popular playlists on platforms like Spotify or Apple Music. That’s no easy task, either, but if you produce high-quality work and do a bit of research to find the right playlists and the right strategy, it can be done. This is a great way to boost exposure, build your fanbase, and gain credibility as a true professional. But where do you start? We’ve rounded up our top 10 tips and tricks to get your song on Spotify playlists, so keep reading to learn more.
About Spotify and Apple Music playlists
Getting your song featured on popular playlists is a great way to boost exposure and build a strong fanbase. Nowadays, the most popular music platforms are Spotify and Apple Music, by far, but Spotify is more straightforward and more evolved when it comes to catering to new artists.
Launched in Sweden in 2008, Spotify has grown to have a total of 450 million users and close to $10 billion in revenue. It’s the world’s biggest streaming platform, available in 184 countries worldwide, so it’s no wonder that this is where every aspiring musician wants to be. The platform offers a ‘Spotify for Artists’ option that allows users to create verified artist profiles and submit their own music, free of charge. Artists then have the option to upload their work, promote their music, and get songs featured on editorial or algorithmic playlists.
Apple Music is a little different, and not quite as complex and artist-friendly as Spotify. The platform was launched in 2015 and has around 98 million subscribers. It’s an on-demand service, requiring a monthly subscription, compared to Spotify, which operates on a freemium strategy. The service has editorial and algorithmic playlists, just like Spotify, but there is no option for artists to submit music directly to the editorial team. You can also find user-generated playlists and submit your work to get featured, but you won’t be able to see how many listeners or followers these playlists have. Spotify is much more advanced and transparent in this regard, at least for now.
Besides Spotify and Apple Music, there are also other platforms like Deezer or Tidal, but they are nowhere near as popular as the first two. Submitting your music to the editorial team is not even an option on Tidal, and user-generated playlists don’t have a lot of followers. The same goes for Deezer, for the most part: you can try to submit work to the editorial team, but it’s a painstaking process that might not be ultimately worth it since the platform doesn’t have as many users as Spotify or Apple.
Which are the most popular playlists on Spotify?
Now that we’ve established that Spotify is your safest bet to get your song featured on popular playlists, let’s talk a little bit about how these playlists actually work on the platform.
There are three types of Spotify playlists, namely:
- User-generated, or listener playlists
- Algorithmic, or personalized playlists
- And editorial playlists.
Listener playlists are created by Spotify users themselves, and they’re a good way to explore what people are listening to. Getting featured on these lists is out of your control, but it gives you a chance to see how your music resonates with fans and how your reach is evolving in the community.
Algorithmic playlists are generated by, obviously, Spotify algorithms, based on a user’s preferences and listening history. The algorithm detects what kind of music a user skips, shares, adds to favorites or listens to repeatedly, and then suggests similar music that they might enjoy. There are several popular personalized Spotify playlists, like Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and Daily Mix. There are also genre-focused personalized playlists that feature new music from specific genres; these include RapCaviar, Rock This, Ultimate Indie, and more.
Editorial playlists are the most sought-after playlists for artists on Spotify. These playlists are curated by Spotify music experts and have millions of followers, so this is where you want your music to be. To get featured on these playlists, you have to submit your music for consideration from your Spotify for Artists account. Let’s talk more about how you can make that happen.
10 Ways to get your song on Spotify playlists
Landing your song on a popular Spotify or Apple Music playlist requires some extensive research, a lot of hard work, and a little bit of luck. With so many artists competing for attention, relying on luck is definitely not a strategy you want to stick with, so here are some steps you can take to better your chances of getting your work heard by millions.
1. Create and build your Spotify Artists profile
The first step is to create your Spotify for Artists profile and get verified. This will show that you’re a true professional who is serious about this career path, and that will boost your chances of getting seen and heard on the platform. Fill in all the information you can on your profile, from genres and artwork to contact details and links to your social pages, to further increase your exposure.
2. Have a strong online presence
You surely already know this by now, but having a strong online presence is a must-have for any aspiring artist nowadays. People will look up artists online and look at their music, as well as their social pages, so it’s important to have a professional-looking website and to keep your social profiles up-to-date. Be active, post and promote your work, engage and interact with your followers to build a fanbase. Of course, make sure to link your Spotify profile on every social channel you have, and also on your website, to encourage people to follow you and listen to your music.
3. Do your research
If you want your music to get featured on popular Spotify playlists, you have to do more than just upload your work and keep your fingers crossed. You’ll have to do the work and do your research to see which playlists are a good fit for you, who curates these playlists, when, and how.
Be sure to also follow popular playlists like Daily Mix, which is updated daily, Release Radar, which is released weekly, or Discover Weekly, which is a great way to introduce yourself as a new artist. These are algorithmic playlists generated automatically based on a user’s history, and they can give you an idea of what’s new on the scene and what music listeners connect with. When you release new music, it will show up in the Release Radar playlist of everyone who follows you, which is why building a fanbase on Spotify is so important.
While you should definitely try to get a song on an editorial playlist, you should also find independent curators and try to connect with them to get featured on listener playlists, as well. These curators usually have a huge amount of followers, so getting on their playlists can help you grow your fanbase and increase your chances of getting noticed by the editorial team. Some popular independent curator playlists include Songpickr, IndieMono, Soundplate, and Pop Justice, to name just a few.
4. Build your following
Having your songs on popular Spotify playlists should not be your ultimate end goal, because while it’s a great way to boost your visibility as an artist, you need a long-term strategy. If people don’t follow you and listen to your music, then it’s all for nothing, so do your best to keep growing your fanbase, both offline and online.
Be active on Spotify just as you are on other social profiles; follow artists, curators, and editors, create your own playlists, upload music constantly, and make sure to keep your profile up-to-date. Find independent curators and editors you like and admire and connect with them outside of Spotify, too, on Twitter, LinkedIn, and other platforms. And of course, keep engaging with your fans across channels.
5. Submit one song at a time, and pick the right one
Another crucial tip is to plan ahead and not rush in to submit all of your songs to editorial playlists. We know you want to see your name featured on these playlists, but it’s important to have a strategy. Research the playlists carefully and pick the right song to submit to the Spotify team.
You can test out your music on other channels, like TikTok, YouTube, or SoundCloud, to see which song stands out and has more engagement from your followers. That will show you which of your songs has the best chance to stand out and grab people’s attention. Once you select your song, fine-tune it and polish it to make sure it sounds great, because Spotify editors definitely factor in sound quality as a sign of professionalism and passion for your craft.
6. Get feedback and advice from music industry pros
A lot of artists avoid or put off submitting their music to Spotify editors, because they’re not confident enough that their songs are good enough to make it on popular playlists. Confidence and keeping an objective, unbiased perspective towards your own work can be challenging, especially if you’re new in the game. This is where advice from music industry professionals can make a significant impact, and can even determine the course of your career. But more often than not, reaching these music industry pros is a real challenge — but it’s not impossible.
At Xposure Music, connecting artists to music industry executives and professionals is our bread and butter. Any artist can join the platform, submit their work, and get one-on-one, invaluable advice from execs at Sony, Columbia, or Atlantic. Professionals on our platform set their own fees, and they’re all transparent for everyone to see. If you’re not ready to get individual feedback just yet, you can submit music to the platform for free, but without the guarantee that someone will respond to you.
This is a great way to get unbiased, professional advice from people with decades of experience in the business. So if you’re not sure if your music is good enough or want to know how you can further improve your sound, this is the way to go.
7. Submit your song ahead of time
We’ve already touched on this subject, but planning ahead is crucial if you want to land your song on Spotify playlists. Do all your research, select and refine your song of choice, and make sure to submit it at least a week in advance.
Spotify editors usually pick the songs for editorial playlists a week ahead, so it’s important to submit your music on time. Of course it’s not the end of the world if you miss the timeline, because you can try again, and keep submitting music on a regular basis.
8. Don’t rely on a single platform
Having a solid online presence is something that we can’t stress enough. You already know you need to be on channels like Facebook, YouTube, TikTok, Instagram, and wherever else your fanbase is active. But it’s important to boost your chances of getting your work seen and heard by millions of fans on different streaming platforms, as well. While you submit music to Spotify and wait to get featured on popular playlists there, why not explore additional avenues?
The first logical option after Spotify is, of course, Apple Music. While the platform is not quite as transparent, and submitting work directly to the editorial team is not an option, at least for now, it’s still a platform used by millions of users across the globe. It’s a great opportunity to get your music heard and your name seen, by getting your songs featured on Apple Music playlists. However, you can no longer upload your music directly to the platform yourself; you have to partner with an Apple Music distributor first to be able to do that, or if you already work with a label, they can handle it for you. It’s a complicated process, but if you’re really serious about getting your music on Apple, it can be done.
Other platforms that you can look into include Deezer and Tidal, which are quite popular but have nowhere near as many users as Spotify or Apple Music. Still, featuring your work on these platforms is another good way to build your fanbase and boost your online visibility, so why not explore them a bit?
9. Include as much data as possible
Spotify loves metadata, so it’s crucial to make sure your profile and your submission feature as much detail as possible. Metadata refers to a collection of information related to a song file, and it includes things like the artist name, the producer, writer, release date, track duration, genre, and more.
Having missing or incorrect metadata can impact the way an artist is compensated or recognized for their work, so it’s important to fill it in properly. According to Spotify, ‘the accuracy of a songwriter’s digital revenue directly correlates to the accuracy of the publishing metadata that accompanies his or her work.’ So, take some time whenever you upload a new song to fill in all the data fields with the right information, make sure it’s presented correctly, and you’ll avoid issues down the line.
10. Don’t give up!
Our last piece of advice is to never give up. Even if you submit music and it doesn’t get featured on any playlist, it doesn’t mean that the work is not good enough. Keep trying, keep researching playlists and curators, and keep making and uploading new music. Editors round up new music every week or so, so there is always another chance waiting around the corner.
In the meantime, keep working on polishing your sound and producing high-quality music, keep building your fanbase and growing your network of connections, and you will see results in no time. And, if you’re looking for professional advice to steer you in the right direction, join Xposure Music and get feedback from some of the most influential people in the music industry today.