D.I.Y.

5 biggest Spotify mistakes musicians make

You may have been told a million times on how to market and distribute music on Spotify. Well…here’s what NOT to do.

by CHRIS ROBLEY from CD Baby’s DIY Musician blog

If your songs do well on Spotify, it means reach and revenue.

Sending the right signals to Spotify can lead to huge audience growth driven by personalized playlists like Discover Weekly

But sending the wrong signals to Spotify? That can ruin your music’s chances of reaching anyone!

Why Spotify is so important for your music

Doing poorly on Spotify (or getting your music REMOVED altogether) can be devastating to your music career. Because Spotify has established itself as one of the most important forces in music. 

Over the past 12+ years, this one streaming platform replaced:

  • Record stores (with endless digital catalog)
  • Radio (with playlists and other forms of passive listening)
  • Mixtapes (with user-generated playlists)
  • PR-driven discovery (with Spotify editorial and algorithmic recommendation)
  • And artist marketing (with tools like Marquee, Canvas, audio ads, playlist pitching, etc.)

By consolidating all these forms of consumption and discovery onto a single platform, Spotify leadthe way for usability and contextual sharing. 

How to make sure your music does well on Spotify

If you want your songs to get shared, it helps to understand Spotify’s algorithm. 

When you know what Spotify’s algorithm is looking for, you can better position your songs for quality engagement. Quality engagement is what increases your chances of an algorithmic boost. 

So what SHOULD you do? Things that focus on getting the right listeners to your music. But there are also some things you should absolutely AVOID doing on Spotify too.

Don’t do THESE 5 THINGS on Spotify:

1. Send junk traffic

It might sound wise to pump up your numbers by driving tons of unqualified traffic to your music on Spotify. But early on, you want quality engagement over quantity of streams.

If you send 10,000 people in a developing market straight from a Facebook ad to Spotify with no intermediary action required (like an extra click on a squeeze page or smartlink) you might get cheaper traffic, but a less devoted listenership by percentage. Better to have only 1000 listeners with half of them loving it.

If you run a stream-to-unlock contest with a random drawing for a $50 Amazon Gift Card, are people going to Spotify for your music or the prize? 

NOTE: Stream-to-unlock campaigns are great, but not when the incentive you’re offering is misaligned with the goal. 

In either scenario, you risk teaching Spotify the wrong thing: that people arrive on your profile, and then just as happily leave. 

2. Obsess over unhelpful playlists

Passive plays CAN be great, but they can also be blaaaaaaahhhhhhhh.

And blah sends the wrong message. 

Yes, your song might fit just fine on a 90s rock or relaxing acoustic or EDM party mix. People might even stick around and listen to the whole song without skipping. But sitting amidst a mix of artists who are more known and loved than you might show Spotify that while your songs work for passive listening, no one is truly digging in. 

If this happens, the MORE streams you get in a passive context, the more you could prove to Spotify that no one loves you. These are often the kinds of playlists you’ll get on when you do massive streaming promotion or blanket pitching campaigns. 

This isn’t to say that building your playlist resumé through user-generated playlists can’t be effective. Just don’t obsess over it, because there are occasions when you’re putting all your eggs in the wrong basket.

3. Pay for plays or placements

Do NOT enlist bots, click farms, or pay-to-play schemes. Avoid any service that “guarantees” streams or playlist placements. 

BEWARE! Junk playlists aren’t gonna do your music any favors. And fake listens are fraud, because those streams are monetized.

This is the number one reason I hear artists saying “I got kicked off streaming!” You’re lured by a promise. You think it’ll make you look cool(er). But those plays are muddying up the data about who your true fans might be. Worse, you risk your music being removed from Spotify.

And lastly, stop lying to yourself! You know it’s not real activity. If your ego is on the line, put that ambition to work finding actual fans.

4. Ignore the on-platform tools

Despite how easy it is to get verified with Spotify for Artists, there are still a shocking amount of artists whose profiles look like ghost towns.

Technically, I’m not sure if this “mistake” negatively impacts your music’s algorithmic performance or not, but I can say from the perspective of a playlister or potential fan, it’s a bad look. If someone shows up to a party, you don’t want it to look like it ended years ago, or worse — never started.

So get verified. Customize your profile. Use the tools!

Spotify gives you a lot of options:

5. Release music infrequently

You can’t disappear anymore. At least not for a year or two at a time.

In our digital world of attention economics, you can’t afford to go away for too long — because you’ll have to spend a lot more time or money regaining the interest you would’ve otherwise kept by maintaining a frequent release schedule.

In order to not lose algorithmic steam, it helps to do a mix of releases:

  • Two or three singles leading up to an album
  • A few tracks following the album (demos, remixes, etc.)
  • And the occasional cover, live track, or collab

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