The Kudos Guide to Playlisting

So, you want to get your track playlisted by the editors at Spotify? We can help! We’ll pitch the track to them and use the information you give us and try to convince them that your track is worthy of a spot in one of their coveted playlists. But there’s a lot you can do to help us before we get to that stage.

Spotify is constantly evolving and changing its processes, what worked for your last release might not work for your next one, but we’ve tried to keep this as up-to-date as possible.

Introduction

Some playlists are curated by human editors, and some are generated by Spotify’s complex algorithms. With a few exceptions, no one editor owns any one playlist, although some editors are more knowledgeable in certain genres than others. We don’t really pitch to specific playlists but we can make suggestions if you have any in mind. More on that later.

The way we pitch to Spotify is by using a form they provide to us specifically for that purpose, but we also follow up with personal emails to our contacts there when there is new activity around a release. Spotify never confirm playlist additions in advance, although we are able to report them to you once they have been added.

Spotify As A Discovery Tool

Spotify is great for discovering new music, but one thing we’re noticing is that this only works on a track by track level – you could pick any number of artists and find their most popular track has hundreds of thousands of streams, but their next most popular is still in the thousands. Users tend to use playlists passively, they’ll put one on and leave it streaming through the day. There doesn’t seem to be a great deal of users who will hear a playlisted track and then dive into an artists back catalogue, although there will be users who do use Spotify in that way. Don’t expect a big playlist addition to result in a huge uplift in streams across your catalogue.

New Music Friday

First off, unless you’re expecting your track to be a big chart hit, it’s probably worth setting your sights lower than New Music Friday. This is Spotify UK’s flagship playlist so you can it’s the one everyone wants to be in and competition for the fifty weekly spots is fierce.

If we’re being honest, New Music Friday isn’t the be all and end all of Spotify playlists, with tracks we have had featured there we often see a large spike on the Friday but no-one really returns to the playlist later in the week, and then you’re out of it a week later. A far better strategy is to aim at some of the playlists that don’t update as often and getting into users ‘Discover Weekly’ playlists, and we’ll look at those below.

Curated Playlists

Spotify’s main playlists tend to be human curated and we pitch for these on a weekly basis, generally 2/3 weeks ahead of release, but we can also pitch later for those last-minute releases. We keep editors up to date with activity once the initial pitch is done, so if you’re getting press and radio support please keep us updated!

As well as the editors individual tastes and the activity updates we provide, Spotify look heavily at listener data around the track and artist. If you’re working an album & single campaign it’s worth getting the single up on Spotify as early as possible to allow them to get some data on it before your main launch date. The editors all have their favourite ways of finding music and many of them look to the blogs, so it’s worth doing a bit of digging online, and seeing if you can find the editors following certain blogs on Twitter and approaching blogs that way. It’s probably not worth approaching editors directly on social media, as they rely on people like Kudos to help them filter out the noise.

If there’s a particular playlist you’re aiming for it’s worth bearing in mind that Spotify tend not to fill their flagship playlists with the very latest tracks- unless it’s from a massive name tracks tend to have to earn their spot at the top by performing well in a smaller playlist. That said, we’re always happy to make suggestions to Spotify editors based on where we think something will fit in.

Algorithmically Generated Playlists

Due to their automatically-generated nature we don’t really have any say in getting on to some playlists – Spotify is a complex beast and they look for tracks that work well together musically, plus a lot of listener data including skip rate. It might be worth considering a ‘radio edit’ of your track that dispenses with a long introduction and kicks in right away. Having a poor skip rate on your track is going to kill it’s chances of getting playlisted. A lot of Spotify’s smaller playlists will be automatically curated, but tracks that perform well will be noticed and considered for the flagship playlists. Sometimes it’s a bit of a waiting game, but that’s part of the beauty of Spotify, a track from your back catalogue that was slept on at the time could become your biggest hit. Some auto-generated playlists like Fresh Finds trawl blogs and social media for influencers and tastemakers mentioning your tracks, so it’s worth pitching to blogs as part of your PR strategy.

Discover Weekly

Discover Weekly is the key playlist for getting users to discover your music – it’s totally curated by algorithm so we can’t pitch for it, but there’s things you can do to help your music get into peoples Discover Weekly playlists. A song will be considered for Discover Weekly around 1-2 weeks after release, it needs to be getting around 80 -100 streams per day during this period to start populating in peoples playlists, so try driving as many listeners as you can to Spotify during this crucial period.

Third Party Playlists

You’ll find many third party playlist curators, from magazines like Resident Advisor & Mixmag to shops in-store playlists (H&M have a popular one), as well as other labels and artists. These are generally handled by PR companies and external agencies, but feel free to approach other artists, DJs and labels who you feel may be up for including your release in their playlists.

The major labels all have their own playlist brands (Filtr, Digster & Topsify) but we tend not to pitch for these as they generally only feature tracks from their parent labels. If you’ve got something with crossover appeal that you think would be a good fit, let us know and we can approach them, but it’s not really a successful strategy.

Your Own Profile

One of the most important things you can do on Spotify is keep your profile and playlists up to date. It’s not worth the effort managing loads and loads of playlists, it’s far better to keep one or two regularly updated (for example, label hits and current favourites). For bigger album campaigns you could look at doing an ‘artists inspirations’ playlist as well. Use Spotify, share tracks from yourself and other artists/labels and be active on the platform and your user engagement will start to improve. Share your playlists on social media and you should begin to see a following, which will all improve your chances of getting playlisted.

For artist profiles you can apply for Spotify for Artists which will give your artists access to a statistics dashboard and the ability to customise their profile. Sadly there isn’t anything for labels yet, but it’s worth setting up a label profile anyway.

If you want some ideas for a Spotify strategy and profile advice, then feel free to drop us a call or an email.

Deezer, Tidal & The Rest…

Whilst Spotify is the dominant streaming service in the UK & US, it’s worth remembering that there are other services that do well too- we already looked at Apple Music elsewhere but Deezer has a strong presence in France and South America and Tidal has a small but dedicated fanbase too, especially for Urban music. Most of what we’ve covered above applies to these services too, but sometimes they deserve a little extra attention. We pitch tracks for all these services plus the smaller streaming players including GooglePlay, KKBox (Korea), Boomplayer (Nigeria), and Line Music (Japan).

If you want us to focus on a particular service in a particular territory be sure to let us know and we will make sure the right people get to hear about your release!

Quick Guide to Playlists – the TL;DR version.

  • Get your track live on Spotify as soon as possible
  • Keep us up to date with any activity around the track
  • Let us know if the track fits any particular mood
  • Don’t expect to go straight into the biggest playlists straight away – perform well in the smaller ones and you’ll move into the big ones
  • Direct your listeners to Spotify – share tracks, set up playlists and be active on the platform
  • Don’t be upset if you’re not in a playlist on release day – Spotify gives you the opportunity to be playlisted at any time, and they like to see some listener data
  • Keep keeping us up to date with activity around the track, even if it’s been out a few weeks!
  • Don’t overlook Deezer & Tidal too – they work well for certain markets & genres
  • Speak to us if you want a chat about Spotify and streaming strategy in general- we’re always happy to help out!
Last updated bykudos
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