How To Use Playlists As An Artist

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Since the days of recording the top hits from your radio on to cassette tape, the mixtape has undergone a drastic transformation and is currently the leading format of listening to collections of music.

Do you remember that feeling of when somebody made you a personal mix on CD/tape? I still remember my ex-boyfriends who gave me their compilations of perfect songs. These made a big impression on me and immediately they won my heart. They expressed their feelings through music.

Musician’s have begun to utilize this concept of expressing their feelings through the curation of playlists on streaming platforms such as Spotify and Apple Music. The playlist for a musician is the blog of a writer. It’s a public forum to create feelings and emotions; sharing inspirations and influences. Building loyalty and trust through pulling at emotions with the simplicity of compiling music with a few clicks.

When building your brand as an artist/musician it’s important to find your format to communicate and share your expertise, music. The playlist is definitely more favourable than, say, a blog, as it’s more inline with your profession and allows you to create interest in your work. And since musician’s have spent forever trying to get playlisted by others (mainly radio), with this shift in consumption, you can use your own playlist as a form of sharing your own value. Focus on both methods of playlist placement and curating your own.

Why Now?

It’s likely you’ve been using playlists to brainstorm ideas or prepare a set, and it’s likely these are set to private right now… Now it’s time to experiment and show your audience who your inspirations are, how you listen to music, how you use others music and your own.

Many people lack the imagination and creativity to curate good playlists, even though they’re highly favoured. So lots of people are on the lookout for ready made, pre-packaged, good quality music playlists. The fact they’ve overtaken album sales speaks volumes – which is why most artists now have given up the fight against streaming and are now embracing it by trying to improve their numbers. Now is the time to make use of playlists, for all artists.

Playlist Format

Playlists that have a weekly update, like Gary Vee’s Monday to Monday playlist, are a good way to keep listeners returning. Consistency is key here. Think of it as a weekly radio show that goes out at the same time weekly.

Creating several playlists which individually represent something specific is another option. Again, a consistent flow of regular playlists that are different can really open your tastes and passions to a wider crowd that you currently reach now. DJ Sasha has a great collection here.

Playlist Value

Gone are the days of the top 40 dominating the charts, people are looking for something real specific. DJ Sasha’s playlists each have a different value, such as his quarantine playlist Heads Down, Music Up. By gathering songs he felt were perfect corona-era listening, he’s uplifted, motivated and echoed the situation we’re all going through.

There’s a reason why Barack Obama kept releasing his top songs of the year. There was a hunger for it. People wanted to know his taste in music. 

Your curated playlists should communicate your interests but try to refrain from using the channel to just talk about yourself, again. Give some value that’s not directly linked to you. Sure, use some of your original songs here and there but you’ve got every other channel you use to showcase those. Make the playlist personal without feeling promotional. Let listeners feel the music without being sold anything directly.

You can for example make a playlist of all the songs, artists that inspired your or you sampled in your latest album. That way you are not only  sharing the process of your album, you are sharing your expertise and identity as well. And you get to know the album on a different level. But the playlist is showing others music and not only yours.

Playlists Have Been Made – Now What?

Whenever I’ve finished a blog post, people need to know it’s there, so I have to shout to the world about it. I use Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn and post in forums to spread awareness of my article. The same concept applies to your playlists. Without telling anybody it exists, it’s unlikely to get discovered.

DJ Sasha made a carousel of images with testimonials of what people’s thoughts are on his new playlist Heads Down, Music Up. He shared this on his Instagram with a call to action to click on the bio link to listen to the playlist.So firstly, you’ll need to create some content around your playlist. Create a good cover art for it so when it’s shared on social media the image is pulled through and displays on news feeds with something eye-catching that communicates the value of what you’ve curated.

When posting links on social media you need to give people a reason to want to click on it and check it out. Communicating the value of the playlist, why you made it, what it invokes and how it can make them feel is a very good start.

Consistent & Persistent

Consistency is key with releasing your playlists. Create a plan of how many per month you’ll create and what the value is for each. By doing this over time you’ll begin forming an audience that will come to expect these regular updates. Magazines have regular columns, TVs have regular programming, Radio has regular shows… Your playlist should be as reliable to your audience as these common formats.

Once you’ve got this down, your audience will connect with you on a deeper level. They’ll begin looking forward to your playlist and tell their friends about it too. Of course, this is going to open up your Spotify profile to these visitors, and the discovery of your original music can begin.

Rebecca Smart Bakken

Rebecca Smart Bakken

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About Me


Hi there! I’m Rebecca, a world citizen and digital marketing nomad.

Some of you may have also seen me on HGTV´s show “Beach Around the World”.

Over the years, I’ve made a name for myself in the tech/ startup industry by helping 250+ startups scale with growth hacking strategies.

Now I want to help musicians and artists to promote their music and engage better with fans on social media.

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