5 ways to influence the Spotify algorithm to reach new listeners and convert them to fans
Like so many systems, streaming algorithms can be gamed, and Spotify’s is no different. Here, we look at five techniques for influencing Spotify’ algorithm to reach new listeners and turn them into full on fans.
Guest post by Bree Noble of the Bandzoogle Blog
Spotify provides a massive opportunity to get your music discovered and heard by new potential fans. Spotify for Artists gives you some great tools to help you look professional, draw in new listeners, connect with those casual listeners and hopefully continue the relationship beyond the first discovery.
But with a lot of other artists competing for listeners’ attention, what can you do to stand out? And how can you influence the algorithm so more potential fans discover your music?
Accessing Your Spotify For Artists Tools
If you’ve previously set up your Spotify for Artists account, you may have already used some of the tools to optimize your profile. But I’m guessing you haven’t explored them all. I know I hadn’t and they are adding new ones all the time.
If you haven’t set up your account, you need to do that right now at Artists.Spotify.com. Claim your account on that platform or through your distributor. In my case, I was able to actually do it directly on Spotify for Artists, which was a simple process.
Once you connect your distributor with Spotify for Artists, it may take up to 3 days to become active, although mine was immediately available. Once you have access, you can start updating the sections I mention below to get the most out of the tools they provide artists and use them to influence the algorithm in your favor.
If you’ve worked inside Spotify for Artists before but it’s been awhile, take a look around because they’ve continually added new tools. The first thing to look at is your bio and your profile photo. If you’ve never added a photo, Spotify may have chosen it for you and they may not have made the best choice.
For me, because many of my top songs were from my Christmas album (I have one song on that album that got on a lot of playlists), the album cover was showing up as my profile picture. Obviously, I didn’t want that. So I updated it with a current picture. I also found I was able to add more photos to the bio section and the top cover area for the desktop app.
Don’t forget to update your musician bio. Make sure you include the most recent information about your career including accolades, newest release info and more. When people discover a new artist, the Spotify bio is the first place they look to learn more.
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Be sure to add your social media links and your website link. This is your opportunity to connect with Spotify listeners off-platform so you can nurture that relationship. So make sure the links work and connect to your most current pages.
Link to your Facebook and Twitter (if you have them), but most importantly to Instagram. Spotify users are more likely to be on Instagram and use it as their primary social media platform. Oftentimes, the first thing a listener will do if they like an artist is to follow them on Instagram. Clicking that follow button is a small commitment with little barrier to entry that takes only a second. This allows listeners to keep up with what’s going on with you as the artist and you have the opportunity to nurture that relationship and take them to the next step on the listener-to-fan journey.
And finally, if you have a Wikipedia page, Spotify gives you an option to put that in there too. If you don’t, you can always go create one for yourself. Wikipedia is a go-to source for music lovers to learn about artists and the fact that you have one will make you look more professional.
Your Top 5 Songs
The next thing to look at is your top 5 songs which are what appear under “most popular” when someone accesses your artist profile on the Spotify app. When looking at it on Spotify for artists, you can expand the section to see the top 10. Although you can’t choose these songs yourself or move them around, knowing what is showing up and what is in spots 6-10 can help you strategize on ways to move them up to your top 5.
Why should we care about the top 5 songs?
Other than your newest release, your “popular songs” are the first things people encounter when visiting your profile. Attention spans are short, so you want to put your best foot forward so listeners will continue listening, which means populating those spots with your best, most representative songs.
The algorithm populates these spots mostly based on stream count. Oftentimes, older songs will have higher stream counts because of time on platform or that song being added to a popular playlist. These can be songs as old as 15 years ago. Most artists have evolved and improved since their older tracks. So how can you get your newer tracks to move up into your top 5?
Take note of the songs in spots 6-10. Determine which of those would be a better representation of you as an artist now and target one or two of them to focus on. Then find some third party playlists that would be a good fit for the songs and approach the curators. If you can get some placements on popular playlists, you can boost the stream counts to push them into those top spots.
You can also use a service like SubmitHub that offers low-cost submission opportunities to hundreds of great Spotify playlists. Make sure you’re submitting to playlists that would be a good fit. Members of my Rock Your Next Release Program have been able to get some great placements through SubmitHub for as little as $0.50 to $2. They’ve been able to capitalize on these placements to increase their Spotify stream count and song ranking.
Your Own Playlist
Every artist should have their own “best of” playlist. This is a great way to highlight the songs that you want people to listen to on your profile, especially if you’ve got a lot of music or you aren’t happy with your top 5. As a listener, if I have to scroll down into your singles and EP section and there are rows and rows of them, I feel overwhelmed and don’t have a clue what to start listening to first. A “best of” playlist solves this problem.
Make the playlist public and feature it prominently on your profile. When you’re editing your Spotify for Artists profile, it allows you to create what they call a playlist pick. If you upload an image, it makes a big box on the right-hand side of your Spotify profile that draws attention to that playlist. It will also appear under “artists playlists.”
As a listener, I love listening to these “artist-curated” playlists because they contain the songs the artist wants me to hear. It’s going to give new listeners a good sampling of the best music you’ve created throughout your career.
Fans Also Like
“Fans Also Like” is a tab inside of your Spotify profile visible to everyone. Although we cannot choose which artists show up there because the algorithm does it for us, we can understand what is causing artists to be chosen and try to influence it.
The concept of “shared fans” is the biggest factor in your “fans also like.” The algorithm looks at people who follow you or listen to your music and determines what other artists they follow and listen to. You can’t control people’s behavior of course. What you can do is try to get on playlists with artists that you want to be associated with.
Being on the same playlist will naturally cause listeners to consume both artists’ music and potentially follow both of you. As a consumer, I certainly do that. When I hear a song on a playlist after a song that I’ve already liked, I’m paying more attention and I might also follow that artist. That common consumer behavior is why working to get on playlists that associate you with artists you want to be associated with can help influence the “fans also like” algorithm..
The other approach you can take to influencing “fans also like” is to pursue press whenever you do a release. The algorithm is looking for information about you both on Spotify and off the platform. If you get on blogs or podcasts that highlight artists that are similar to you that you want to be associated with, the Spotify algorithm will take notice.
You can also influence it with how you describe your music. Let’s take something specific. Let’s say that you call your music Americana/Hip Hop. The algorithm is going to look for other artists that also mention that genre and associate you with them. If you want to be seen as associated with a particular artist, research how they describe themselves, how their press is describing them and try to use those words. It doesn’t have to be big press. It can be a music blog, podcast or online news site.
Although we can’t control the Spotify algorithm, we can influence it. Using the 5 strategies mentioned above, you’ll have a much better chance of getting discovered by the right listeners.
The good news is, once you get discovered by listeners, the Spotify algorithm has even more ways to keep them listening. Tools like Release Radar introduce your new tracks to them and your older track get exposure via Discover Weekly. Thanks to the algorithm, you’ll get more chances to connect with new listeners to turn them into lifelong fans.
Bree Noble is a music marketing and business coach at The Profitable Musician, best-selling author of “The Musician’s Profit Path”, recognized speaker, and award-winning podcaster. As founder of both Women of Substance Radio and The Female Entrepreneur Musician, Bree is a champion and go-to resource for Indie artists in all genres. Her most popular offerings are her Female Musician Academy and her Rock Your Next Release program.