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Today, getting your music onto a major playlist can make a monumental change in your career. There are countless examples of artists getting virtually nowhere with their music, then after landing on a major playlist, experiencing 10,000,000+ streams. Quite obviously, this is not an easy task to engineer. Sometimes it happens by chance, however we'll talk about some ideas that can help you get a feature.
If you're going to approach major playlist curators and attempt to get a feature, you need to have all of your music, branding, and online presence in tip top shape. This includes all your website, your social media, your brand, your music, etc. You have to look like a pro, or you won't even be considered. The standard is so high these days, so make sure you meet it. Here's a rough checklist:
All your photos and branding are up to date
All your socials and your website have a cohesive look
You are regularly posting on all socials, especially TikTok
Make sure you are consistently putting out new music
Update your tour schedule and history
Above all, make sure your music is written and produced at the highest level
Someone is making these sought after playlists, and therefore it is your job to find out who they are. You'll have to do research for relevant playlists in your genre, but here are some general places in which you'll find curators:
Bloggers with large followings have the potential to create massive waves online, and those that are making playlists are the ones you need to get to know. Do a Google search to find some relevant bloggers
Look up publications focussed on music and entertainment, especially in your niche
labels are also creating playlists to get their artists out there. A lot of these labels also have a huge online reach, therefore their playlists get lots of movement. Obviously, this is tougher as they are promoting their own artists
This includes the staff at Apple, Spotify, etc. These curators are getting harder and harder to reach these days, unless you have label level distribution (see below)
Stations are doing this now as a way to get more exposure and develop a deeper connection to their listeners
Music fans are creating playlists known as UGP's (User Generated Playlists), and they make up some of the biggest playlists on Spotify. Do your research on those fans that have a large following.
Label distributors have direct access to the staff/curators at all DSPs, including Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon Music, etc.
They usually offer "bespoke" marketing to these DSPs to help you land on playlists. What does that mean? Well, they don't execute your marketing plan directly, but they use it as leverage in their pitch to the DSPs for some playlist adds.
For example, say you're executing a TikTok influencer campaign for your single and directing all consumers of that content to Spotify, the label distributor can then go to Spotify and say, "Hey, this artist is pushing people to your platform with this campaign, can you help them with an editorial playlist?"
These days, you have a significantly higher chance of landing on an editorial playlist such as New Music Friday if you work with a label distributor.
Well as you might imagine, you can't work with a label distributor directly. You have to work with a label type 'entity', which could be a record label, management company, production team, etc. For example, Velveteen Music acts as a label entity and offers label distribution through Believe Music.
If you want to learn more about distributing through Velveteen Music, click here.
Label distribution runs on a revenue sharing model rather than an annual fee. Distributors typically take 10% - 20% off the top, then the entity may take an additional percent off the top, depending on their circumstances.
There are three main label distributors. Note: you can view the distributors on Spotify's Provider Directory under Label Distributors.
You're going to have to start approaching these people, and you'll want to do it in a respectful manner to see results. Don't forget, curators are constantly going through new artists that reach out to them, so you'll have to poke through the crowd somehow. Here's some tips:
Make sure you are kind and courteous. Don't say things like, "I'm going to be a huge star and this good for you". Be polite and understanding.
If you don't get a response, don't be afraid to follow up. Maybe the original message was missed in the mix of emails. Maybe the curator just had a busy week. Regardless, following up is a good way to re-ignite the potential relationship.
Curators are essentially doing you a favour by featuring you on their playlists. Try to give them something in return. This may tough, but hey, you're a creative person, right?
This is potentially an answer to the point above. If you've found a major influencer online that curates playlists, try following them on all social media platforms and sharing all of their posts. By doing so, you're showing the curator that you can go the extra mile to help them in any way you can.
If your a new artist and just released your first record, expecting a Spotify curator to put you on a major playlist is pretty unlikely. I'm not going to say it can't happen, but make sure you're contacting a multitude of curators so that you can actually get some traction.
Yes, create your own playlists! This is an ideal way to get your music out there. Create a killer playlist for your target audience that includes some of your favourite artists. Then put one of your songs in there. Now share it! If you have completed the "Do The Prep Work First" as we talked about above, you'll be able to share this playlist out to all your socials and hopefully start to see some movement
Don't be too "salesy" with this approach however. If your playlists come off as too self-promotional, you're not going to see any movement as no one will be interested. Focus on great content first, as with all web stuff.
Getting on a curator playlist is a difficult undertaking, but as with most things in your career, you just need to continue to build and refine. It will happen.
Velveteen offers full service release campaigns for most types of artists. We help build a release strategy based on your goals as an artist and help you execute them in the most effective manner possible.
We aim to help artists build a long term fanbase, increase their streams and visibility, and set an upward career trajectory towards sustainability.