If you're hoping to get your song on a major Spotify playlist, it's important to first cut your teeth on lower-level playlists, until eventually Spotify's algorithm picks up on what's going on down below and elevates your song to the top. One good way of doing this is to build your own playlists.
Guest post by Chris Robley of CD Baby's DIY Musician
You want to land a song on a big Spotify playlist? It (probably) won’t happen overnight.
First you have to build your playlist resume. Once your songs start seeing lots of lower-level playlist activity, Spotify’s algorithm will take notice — and THAT’s when you’re more likely to get the attention of prominent playlist curators.
The more you build a presence for your songs on smaller playlists, the more chance you’ll have of getting a big playlist placement.
Step #1: Create your own playlists
This is an obvious place to start building a playlist presence, since you have complete control over the song selection.
Creating your own playlists gives you a great way to:
- connect with fans between album cycles
- re-purpose your catalog in countless ways by putting old songs into fresh contexts
- highlight the music of your influences, local music scene, new discoveries, etc.
- and much more
But before you put too much effort into playlisting, you’ll first want to become a verified artist on Spotify so you can display and promote your playlists right from your artist page.
Go HERE to find out how to get verified.
How to create a Spotify playlist
- Within the Spotify app, click “(+) New Playlist.”
- Give your playlist a name and description. Be sure to use rich keywords that mention the style of music, specific artists within the playlist, or other organizing principles for the songs contained within.
- Upload a custom image for your playlist.
- Add a URL to the “insert link” field linking to a pre-order page or music store. (Be considerate and don’t link to a competing streaming service.)
- Click “Create.”
- Add songs! You can do this by searching for the song on Spotify and dragging it into your playlist in the left-hand sidebar, or by clicking the ellipses next to any track and selecting “Add to Playlist.”
Playlist best-practices for Spotify
There are millions of playlists on Spotify. Every user has the ability to create multiple playlists. So understandably, Spotify doesn’t want EVERY single playlist on their platform to be publicly searchable. In order for YOUR playlist to grow as much as possible, you’re going to want to show up in a search on Spotify. That way your reach extends beyond your existing fanbase.
There are some recognizable attributes shared by many playlists that Spotify serves up in their search. Might as well emulate what’s working, right? Here’s how to make an effective — and search-friendly — playlist.
Build playlists around your interests.
If you’re enthusiastic about your playlist, you’ll make it awesome! If not, you’ll lose steam and neglect it. Which brings us to…
Update your playlists on a regular schedule.
To make a playlist that’s worth following, it should be dynamic and change over time. Otherwise a user can just listen once and be done with it. Choose a day to make updates each week and keep it consistent to build expectation among followers.
Only ONE song per artist.
Unless a playlist’s sole purpose is to highlight the music of one artist, it’s best to make the song list diverse. Spotify’s algorithm can downgrade a playlist (in search and relevance) that is too heavily weighted towards one artist.
Seed your own songs!
Nestle your song perfectly among a bunch of great tunes by other artists. But remember: just one song per playlist, unless it’s a playlist organized around your music alone.
Playlists should have between 20-60 songs.
Spotify’s algorithm favors playlists with more than 20 songs and less than 60. Aim for 25-30 when you first create the list, and then add more songs on a regular basis. Once you’re approaching 60 songs, shuffle the oldest tracks off the list. (You can even create an archive playlist to house all the songs that have been moved off the primary playlist).
It’s not make-or-break, but seeing one of those default playlist covers with the four smaller images is a little disappointing. You’re curating a musical experience; why not also provide a custom visual that helps listeners enter your world?
Use smart keywords in your description.
You should describe your playlist using words, phrases, genre descriptions, and artist names that listeners will be searching for. Spotify gives you plenty of text space to do it. Optimize!
Your playlist name is SUPER IMPORTANT!
Which do you think is more likely to appear in a search: “Prog-Rock Classics from the 1970’s” or “Brand New Crystal Visions of Dancing Planets Outside of Time?” Choose a playlist name that sets clear expectations.
Promote your playlists.
Share the playlists you create with your fans on social, email, etc. Ask them to follow your playlists, and ask for their suggestions for songs or artists you can add to your playlists in the future. The more followers your playlist has, the more likely it will be served up in a search on Spotify.
Tag, tag, tag.
Whenever you add tracks to the playlist, tag those artists on social (this is the more passive version of notifying the artist directly, which we’ll get to below…)
Ask your fans to save a song from your playlist to their own playlists.
Again, Spotify’s algorithm takes special notice whenever a user is motivated to move a song from a playlist they follow to one of their own playlists. This is the MOST IMPORTANT action a fan can take to support you on Spotify. So provide a link to your playlist and ask your fans to do just that!
Notify other artists who’ve been added to your playlists.
Reach out via Twitter, Facebook, or email. Let them know you love their music, have added a song to your playlist, and ask them to follow the playlist and promote it to their fans.
Embed your playlist.
Spotify also smiles favorably upon playlists that are being shared outside of the their platform. Embed the playlist on your own website, and ask your fans and friends to do the same. The wider your reach online, the better you look in the eyes of that mysterious Spotify algorithm.
To embed a playlist:
- Go to the playlist page on Spotify
- Click on the ellipses
- Scroll down to “Copy embed code”
- Paste that code into website
Here’s one of my playlists, to give you an idea of how it will appear (and to selfishly take my own advice about embedding!):
(Please listen and follow if you enjoy!)
Alright, that’s enough playlist tips for one day. Keep ’em in mind and your playlist will have a good chance of appearing in Spotify’s search. You’ll also be on your way towards building a bigger playlist presence.