FEATURE: Succeeding on Spotify: Pushing Up-Stream

FEATURE:

 

Succeeding on Spotify: 

 

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IN THIS PHOTO: Drake is the Most-Streamed Spotify Artist of 2016
 

Pushing Up-Stream

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AFTER chatting with a website designer in London…

ABOUT THIS TRACK: One Dance is the Most-Streamed Song of 2016 (970-million-plus to date)

last week, he mentioned a valid point: not many blogs are concentrating on issues away from the musicians themselves. I’ll sort my grammar out but what I mean is how few writers stray away from music and look at things like streaming services. All musicians want to get their music featured on platforms like Spotify: not only that, they want to be successful and rack big numbers up. It is a good point, really: I am so focused on reviews and interviews, I forget there are people out there who would want to learn more about things like Spotify – and how to build a successful profile. That streaming service is proving popular because of its range of music and reputation. As opposed to somewhere like SoundCloud or YouTube: Spotify houses more music and is being underlined by more musicians – getting a certain amount of Spotify streams is almost as important as creating great music. Before I provide a guide to building a successful Spotify profile – collating advice from music professionals and writers – I wanted to add a little caveat. In writing this piece, I was hoping to interview managers and successful bands about how to get those all-important streaming highs. The trouble is, everyone I approached was suspicious and nervous. Assuming, by revealing their secrets and insights, that would give rival musicians an edge – nearly everyone declined or refused my invitation. I can see how they might be a little wary: you want your act to have success and not encourage others to reap the same rewards. My intention is/was to help new artists build a successful profile and make their music more attractive and fertile on Spotify. Aside from paranoid music managers, I have been researching and have, with some helpful writers/sites mentioned, put together a guide to succeeding on Spotify.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: When We Were Young is from from the Fourth-Most-Streamed Artist of 2016

Before you Start:

Visibility and Variation:

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It is essential to consider (thanks to http://blog.sonicbids.com/6-easy-steps-to-streaming-success-on-spotify for pointers on this one) other platforms aside from Spotify before you start. The temptation is to get your music on there and start campaigns without having any other sites and streaming visibility. Whilst Spotify is, perhaps, the most popular streaming service at the moment; it is essential to embrace and take advantage of the ‘older’ technologies of YouTube, SoundCloud and, yes, BandCamp – a steely stalwart that is much-under-used by many artists. You would not believe how many new artists negate the vital nature of expansion and a bulky portfolio. Look at it this way: if you are writing a business plan, you would not have a few pages and ideas – not unless you want to fail and piss off a lot of backers. I have written a business plan and see music as a business. Making a success of your music requires a savvy strategy and a lot of campaigning. I have reviewed so many acts that keep their music localised to SoundCloud. I will go into the nature of social media and making your websites concise and clear; before I do, it is worth mentioning how easy it is to set up a rudimentary YouTube, SoundCloud and BandCamp platform. You do not need to have lots of original and cover material on these sites: just setting them up and keeping them updated is essential. It does not mean you are spreading yourself too thin, either. What it does is provide listeners and journalists availability and options. Not everyone uses Spotify so, in many ways, you are ensuring people do not pass you by. In an ultra-competitive age, you have to be smart enough to realise there are acts that are prepared and one step ahead – they have already figured this out. You do not need, as I have said, to bust balls and sweat. Get all your music on these platforms and it shows you are serious and aware of the consumer needs. You can monetize your music and will encourage others to subscribe and add YOUR music to THEIR playlists. Then…

ABOUT THIS TRACK: The Weeknd‘s Beauty Behind the Madness is the Fifth-Most-Streamed Album of 2016

Consider Social Media:

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It may seem unconnected but making your Facebook and Twitter profiles complete and updated will help when it comes to Spotify. For a start, mentioning to your followers your music is on Spotify is something many overlooks.  One of the most depressing things about featuring new acts (on my blog) is how little effort is put in. I have had near-arguments with P.R. companies and bands who have, for no good reason, provided a couple of photos on social media. I ask why and I always get the same answers: they want to wait for the right time before putting photos up; they/I want to be mysterious and let the music do the talking. Guess what? If you allow the music to do all the talking you are not going to have a short career. Social media and promotion are as visual-minded as it is audio. The best reviews and interviews I have published have been with artists who have lush, packed profiles with lovely photos and lots of great information. Consider getting shots and information included on social media. It encourages people to investigate more and shows a level of professionalism and hard work that will impress. If you take the trouble to be open and visible to the listener/fan then they will; stick with you and be more inclined to follow your playlists. Another one of the omissions (many acts) are guilty of is not putting their biography and social media links onto Facebook/Twitter. It is bad enough seeing a few crappy photos and nothing else: a number of times I have to Google an artist’s social media links is galling. Create your Facebook page and where it says ‘Info’, put ALL links there. Flip a few lines into biography and say where you are based: it is not being too revealing and means people like me do not have to wade through search engines doing your work for you. It sounds like I am having a rant but music, as a business and market, favours those who put the effort in and appreciate the competitiveness of the industry.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Coldplay are the Fifth-Most-Streamed Male Artists of 2016

Spotify: Cementing a Fanbase

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It might seem like a no-brainer putting your latest single or album over on Spotify. Not only can you gain revenue and find your way onto influential playlists – more on that soon – but there is an excitement about, however tenuously, rubbing shoulders with the mainstream’s best. Spotify is, essentially, a promotional tool and should be treated as such. I have stated how social media and completeness is in regards getting people listening to your music. Once you are set up on Spotify – https://support.spotify.com/us/account_payment_help/account_basics/create-your-spotify-account/ – you have a world of availability and opportunities out there. Spotify allows you to create a bespoke account where you can monetize your music and update your account. It is important, once you are on Spotify, not to stick with it rigidly. Acknowledge the endurance and importance of other streaming services and social media. In the same way it is important to let your followers and fans know about Spotify: transpose that and make people on Spotify aware of your other sites. If you have an official site and social media platforms; get Spotify listeners aware of that. In turn, that will bring new followers to your Spotify profile. Music and social media are so compartmentalised, it can be hard joining all the dots together.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Shape of You Has Over 702-Million Streams So Far

Get the Spotify Followers Up:

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It is, naturally, the main aim of any musician: get those Spotify followers and streaming figures as high as they can. Rather than jump straight into the site and assume people will naturally flock to your music; there are a few tips to bear in mind. It is important, once you set up a playlist, for example – https://support.spotify.com/uk/using_spotify/playlists/save-your-music-with-playlists/ – to consider how you are going to get people invested. One of the most important considerations is following artists you like. It might sound strange but it ensures your fans discover the music you enjoy. It sounds counterintuitive but listeners and followers are interested in what YOU like – it sounds strange but is true! In a business sense, your followers might follow artists you like; in turn, fans of other musicians are likely to go back down the chain and follow YOU. It sounds messy and tangled but, trust me, it works. In the same way building an impressive and layered social media page increases followers and journalists’ interest: making sure your Spotify account, through a few simple tweaks, reveals about your background/tastes can vastly increase your audience.

Creating and Sharing:

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Before you think about getting onto the big and best playlists, it is vital to create your own. I see a lot of people posting various Spotify playlists around. If the weather is warm, they might create their own ‘Summer Jams’ collection, say. Maybe, at Christmas, you get festive-themed lists arriving – you know what I mean. Do not bombard followers but, by curating a few playlists here and there, it shows your tastes in music and attracts people to Spotify. I have often, on Twitter, seen an artist I love post a playlist. In turn, I have gone to check it out on Spotify and, whilst there, discovered new artists and added them to my own playlist. It is surprising who you can discover and how much great music you can find by doing things like that – get playlists out to the people and bring them onto the site. Of course, in a cheeky way, you can include your own songs on playlists – perish the impunity – and that is a good way of sharing them on social media. Renewed thanks to http://blog.sonicbids.com/6-easy-steps-to-streaming-success-on-spotify for guidance and considerations I will bring up.

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Once you have created your own playlists, you need to consider getting it out to the people. Sharing it on social networks is one thing: promoting dialogue and conversation is equally important. Get your followers and fans to pick their favourite tracks and discuss them with other followers. Share tracks and albums you’re vibing with and ask your fans which playlists and acts you should be following. Doing something as simple as adding Spotify links to YouTube and social media means people can easily click and get direct access to your profile/playlists.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: The Beatles are the Most-Streamed Classic Rock Artists of 2016

The ‘Follow’ Button and Verification:

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By adding the Spotify Follow Button to your social media or homepage; it means the fan does not have to leave your site: they have a one-click route to Spotify. It means you have a new subscriber/follower and that is a really easy way of getting the numbers up: that, in turn, means your music will be streamed and heard by more people. If you are struggling to put the button on your website, try the following: To get the button: just right click on the playlist, track or album on Spotify and select ‘Copy Embed Code’. This copies the link to your clipboard. Then, paste the code into your website and the Spotify Play Button will show up on your site.

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Once you are on Spotify and have an account set up, like Twitter and Facebook, verifying your profile allows you to interact directly with fans. Once you have been verified, you can have your discography, tour dates and biography displayed. Having a verified profile means you can communicate (through Spotify) via Spotify Social and Discover feeds. When you release new content, be that a single or album, your fans get a push notification; every time you add a track to your playlist, all followers of that playlist get notified.

ABOUT THIS SONG: Uptown Funk Has Over 702-Million Streams at Present

Once There:

Quality, Metrics and Professional Presence:

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When creating playlists, make sure they are quality-driven and never empty. As an artist, make sure your account on Spotify is never empty: have playlists and ensure you put all your latest music on there. If you are creating a playlist of your own releases then adding as regularly as possible, obviously, increased traffic and keeps fans attracted. There are short attention-spans out there: new artists come along by the dozen: giving consistent, regular content is likely to keep existing fans and impress the undecided voters. Make sure you are regularly sharing your tracks from Spotify and providing links to followers. As I say, people can wander and remind them your music is on Spotify is a good way of getting streaming numbers high: that, in turn, creates buzz and gains interest from journalists and radio – I shall come onto that next. Something as simple as listening to music through Spotify ensures you appear on the live ticker feed (on the right-hand side of the Spotify client) and you will generate stories via Discover.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Lean On Has Over 961-Million Streams to Date

Sites like Next Big Sound offer you free, up-to-date analytics for artists. Once you log/sign in, you can track your growth in followers and see how effective your social media campaigns are. You can visually detect how successful your promotional attempts are and, by doing so, identify the optimum route for increased streams and followers. (Apply to see your Spotify data here, and read this overview for a full breakdown of how to use Next Big Sound). Thanks to https://www.dittomusic.com/blog/6-tips-for-promoting-your-music-on-spotify for tips on that side of things. You will need 250 followers to get your profile verified so, by doing these simple things, it increases the likelihood of this happening quick. Get the word out to family, followers and fans – always keep on it and never stop marketing your music.

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Now, we come to the issue of selling your music: getting your songs onto a Spotify playlist. I have mentioned how keeping social media full and fresh is a vital tool for success. To ensure the bods and schematic influencers on Spotify lust after your music, make sure your pages are informative and updated. They will look at artists who are professional and keen to interact with your fans. Make sure you have photos and your biography is updated. Make sure you have your music and work across all platforms and streaming services; make things look, without breaking the bank, as engaging and attractive as you can. Once you do get onto a playlist, do not sit back and assume others will do the hard work. Tag the playlist curators and always share your work. Take a look at this link – https://blog.midem.com/2013/06/alison-lamb-how-spotify-apps-can-boost-your-listens-by-over-400/ – but there are websites out there that show you how to increase your followers; get your music spread far and wide.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Rihanna is  the Most-Streamed Female Artist of 2016

Promotion and Reaching the Media:

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Now, I assume you are all set up and verified – or getting near, anyway! You will have your music on there and will be doing your best to keep your social media faithful informed and hooked. That is all well and good but how many plays/streams does that equate to? One assumes a certain number of followers will share your songs and make others aware of your Spotify presence. We cannot always rely on this so it is important to reach the media: getting your music out to radio stations, magazines and important journalists. Do your research and discover the stations/websites that promote music similar to yours. The same way Spotify curators want to keep abreast of the best new tracks: journalists and D.J.s are always seeking those acts who will fill their ears with magic. Reach out on social media to those stations and websites that would be interested in your sounds. Put a link/song onto Twitter and Facebook and make sure you tag those all-important, influential shakers. They might not play your music but it is a good way of reaching their attention. Of course, if they play or share your music from Spotify, that brings more people in and pushes the streaming figures up.  Looking at D.I.Y. Musician and they have great tips for creating collaborative playlists are also a great way to get your fans involved. And you can always team up with other artists to cross-promote your music: you put their songs on your playlist and ask them to include a song of yours on their next playlist. By linking with fans and other artists, and because you are sharing a playlist, you will reach their fans and followers. It is all about promoting yourself and keep pushing the music out there. Sharing links and informing people of your latest movements, means you give yourself a great chance of getting people active and involved.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Fifth Harmony are the Fifth-Most-Streamed Female Artists of 2016

Getting on Prominent Playlists:

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So many people are creating playlists these days. Music bloggers and magazines; political figures and authors: from themed lists to those tailored to special holidays and events – there are so many alternatives and examples out there. It is important doing your research and being aware of the options out there. If your music is perfect for, say, an author’s playlist – because a song mentions a famous novel or writer – you will need to connect with them. You can search on Spotify for those bespoke playlists that would be perfect for your music. It sounds exhausting but you need to cover all the bases. Radio stations, local and international, create playlists; fellow artists do so it is a case of keeping your eyes open and connecting with as many people as possible. At the thick of it, YOUR music is the sounds they need to be aware of. If you do not make them aware of your music they will not be able to find you.

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Getting to the really big, high-profile playlists takes a bit more grit and work. You will need to pitch and define your music so those decision-makers and curators are invested. They will get thousands of messages from like-minded acts so you need a pitch that stands out. Make things clear and concise; get your fans and followers to jump on Spotify. Popularity and followers are not, necessarily, as important as the quality of the music – showing you have a huge fan base is going to show playlist curators your music has popularity and appeal. Make sure your ask fans to follow you on Spotify and get those numbers rising.  I have talked about getting the digital portfolio ordered and updated: I cannot overestimate how important it is to portray an air of professionalism and quality.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Closer Has Over 943-Million Streams to Date

I run a weekly playlist feature where I include all the new singles and album tracks from that week. I get approached by people (P.R. companies usually) that give me a Spotify link to an artist’s latest piece. Approaching those who run similar lists and features is another important way of getting your song to the masses. If you have a new song out and want to get streams and people listening, you will need to give media and journalists plenty of notice. Give some background information about the single – so they are likely to include it in features and write about it – and as much detail as is possible.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Cheap Thrills is the Fifth-Most Streamed Song of 2016

Finally…

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If you have followed this advice (or most of it) you’ll be equipped to the demands and bustle that is Spotify. It is important, once you have all this in place, to not let the ball drop. Music is exhaustive and can take its toll. It is hard enough producing music let alone doing all the P.R. side of things. Many artists are lucky enough to have people promoting their stuff and doing that side of thing. Even if you are one of those acts, you must ensure you do your part: promote your own stuff and ensure you connect with fans and musicians alike. If you promote other acts’ work then they, one hopes, will push your music to their fans. Leave comments and share others’ Spotify links: by showing compassion and sportsmanship, it makes it much more likely artists will reciprocate. Jørn Haanæs, in a MusicThinkTank article, talks about the importance of maintaining that professional relationship:

“These champions of your music will grow alongside you for years to come. Stay in touch and make sure to engage with them each time you release a new track. Invite these people out to shows when you’re in their market and aim to build genuine relationships with them! Ask them for feedback on new material before it gets released and bring them into your band’s family”.

ABOUT THIS TRACK: Twenty One Pilots are the Third-Most-Streamed Act of 2016

Essentially, do not rush and set unrealistic expectations. It is unlikely, at first anyway, you’ll get onto the list of most-streamed artists on Spotify. Even if your music is better than most out there: the mainstream’s giants have very large, dedicated teams who work solely to get those Spotify streams high. It can seem like an uphill battle getting your music noticed and featured. If you are smart and patient, you will start to see results. Look at this blog, for instance: it is about to be redesigned after nearly six years and one-thousand posts. I should heed my own advice and make my presence more professional and impressive. I understand the only way my blog will get fans and reach bigger audiences if I spent some dosh and time making it look a lot better. I hope my words provide some guidance to those new acts who are trying to crack the Spotify Rubik Cube. Take time and be patient: success will come in time. Just be as visible and proactive as you can, I guess. Let’s hope, by undertaking a few simple steps your music…

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COULD take Spotify by storm.

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9 thoughts on “FEATURE: Succeeding on Spotify: Pushing Up-Stream

  1. Excellent – and extensive – article, with lots of helpful and constructive information for artists. I share your frustration with artists who have few or poor photos and limited bio info on their social media, as it makes our job of writing reviews of their music much more challenging. (It also annoys me when some bloggers review or interview an artist but provide no video, Soundcloud or Spotify link so readers can easily listen to a song.)

  2. Great comprehensive article, you make a brilliant point that playlist research is a must – it’s a side of Spotify marketing that is only just being recognised by artists and managers. Charting your position on these playlists is also a brilliant way to check how you’re doing, and what music resonates with which collection well. Soon, you’ll hopefully see your work on larger and more prominent playlists!

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