Just like any other content platform, Spotify is driven by its users, uploading content to the platform. When it comes to the algorithm – it’s not too dissimilar to how Instagram’s works.
All of the content platforms need a way to evaluate the content of its user’s post. Of course, that’s a lot of content getting uploaded every single second. So in order to tackle this, the fabled algorithms were created to handle the evaluation and positioning of content (to place posts in front of the right people).
Every platform’s main goal is to keep users locked in for as long as possible. If they could keep you on Spotify 24/7 – they absolutely would.
While the algorithm is very useful and handpicks content that it learns we like to consume; there have been some negative social and behavioral aspects as a result of it too. I’m sure you’ve all watched The Social Dilemma by now – we won’t go down that route today!
Now that we know the platforms are designed this way, we need to work with the algorithm and cater to its needs. Give it what it wants and benefit from increased visibility and streams in return.
As more and more content gets uploaded every day; the algorithms will become more and more important to understand if you want to work the system in your favor.
Nearly 40,000 new songs are uploaded to Spotify every day. As a result of this, there will be even more algorithm-based playlists so Spotify can cater to each individual user.
While the editorial playlists are run by actual humans, they unfortunately do not have the same work capacity as a robot.
The robot can read all of the metrics: who listens to a song, where, how, what type of other music they listen to, etc.
This all happens lightning fast and on a massive scale. The algorithm scans every user’s behaviors on daily basis. It is consistently discovering new behaviors and creating new playlists to satisfy the vast range of tastes of each user.
While human-curated playlists are limited due to the capacity limitations; algorithm-curated playlists will continue to increase in order to keep up with the demand of its users.
Of course, there will be lots of big playlists continuing to appear but what’s really interesting for upcoming artists is the increase in niche playlists to get featured on.
You will begin to see algorithm-curated playlists based on gender, religion, interest areas, cultures, and many other niches. Go niche or go home!
So with this in mind, it’s crucial that musicians have a good understanding of how the algorithm works. With this knowledge, you can plan your launch strategy strategically and start your campaign with a visibility boost to help get you onto bigger playlists – and start generating some serious streams.
There are a few things that are unique to Spotify that other content platform lacks. Something that if you really understand how to use this properly, you will consistently see organic reach on your music and you will see organic growth.
You can actually start building momentum on your content before it’s live. So you are telling the algorithm that this is going to be a good song – before it’s even live.
And here are a few hacks to do this as well as general Spotify bossing:
- Get A Pre-Save Link
So what’s unique about Spotify is that there are actually a few hacks you can do before your content goes live on the platform. It’s so important that you follow all of this if you really want to build momentum right away, so you can start “trending” on the algorithm.
The work here starts beforehand. It certainly doesn’t work like that on a platform such as Insatgram as you are just directly reliant on the reaction you get the second you post.
So if you use one of the bigger distributors like Distrokid or CDBaby you will have the option of creating this pre-live link. This is important because you can basically have a “line” waiting by the door for when you open you will instantly get streams.
Like with every other content platform, the visibility and momentum you create right after you post/launch/go live matters.
On Instagram the algorithm will measure the interactions and time spent on your content and will push it accordingly. They will also see who viewed it, so they can push it to more of those people.
The same goes for Spotify. As you are an upcoming artist, you may not have a hardcore fanbase/following yet that will instantly check out your music the second it comes out. So the pre-save will help you with this.
Getting people to pre-save your song will then push it to them on the release date and you are right off the bat starting off with traction and visibility on your track.
But how do you get someone to pre-save?
This is done through social media and should be incorporated into your content plan. No, not just promote it – you need to tell your story and make people interested.
You can even get people involved…
For example, give away free merch to one person who pre-saves and run a competition around it to build up hype. The more people you get to pre-save, the better.
Storytelling and getting people involved works as well.
If you have lyrics in your music, you are probably telling stories and sharing value through your lyrics. Extend this before your release so you can start the conversation.
Let’s say you are writing a song about the current situation in America (I feel for you guys), start the conversation on your socials before. Tell them you have written a song about this and share some of the value to get them involved.
This can be a simple video of you introducing it, starting the conversation and telling them to pre-save it at the end to get the continuous story. Start promoting and building hype.
Bonus: you will receive the email addresses of the users pre-saving your track… And email addresses are the gold of marketing (I covered this here – read it if you haven’t already!)
Email campaigns will/should be one of your most important metrics as its one of the most efficient ways to communicate with your fans when you want to convert them over to paying fans.
So getting the emails of the pre-save will be of huge value in the future.
2. Get People to Follow You
When you get people to follow you on Spotify, you have the chance of appearing on their Release Radar playlist. Getting onto your follower’s Release Radar will also boost the immediate traffic you get right away with your music.
Remember, if we can get a boost straight away, the algorithm will help us further.
So by getting people to follow you, you will increase the visibility of your song. However, how do you get people to follow you on Spotify?
You need to give them a reason to do it, right? You need to have a professional presentation of yourself (profile complete), show you are consistent with your music (have a music library)…
If you do not have a library – have other content they can access – such as your own curated playlists.
While you are building your music library now you may need to give them other reasons to follow you. For example, if they go to your profile and see one song that was released last year- why would they follow you?
Many of my students don’t have music yet, so they create weekly or monthly playlists they push to their fanbases on other channels, so they can start moving people over to Spotify and start building up their following.
So give people a reason to follow you, and tell them to follow you as well across your other channels.
3. Submit to Editorial Playlists 4 Weeks in Advance
The work on hacking the algorithm starts when you upload your song through your distributor. Spotify does not work with just any distributor, so make sure you choose one that is a preferred distributor of Spotify:
Distrokid, CDBaby, and The Orchard.
By using these services you will get instant benefits on Spotify – such as an artist page you can access. Having an artist page is crucial for the Spotify Algorithm. When you create your artist page, you need to complete your profile properly (I went though this already in this video)
And make sure you get the verification mark.
Having an incomplete profile will really hurt your progress with the algorithm. Finally, make sure you link to all your other socials too.
If your song is not on Spotify yet, you need to push your distributor to upload it onto Spotify.
You need to have your song uploaded to Spotify several weeks before the release date in order to really optmize the algorithm. If you start as early as 4 weeks in advance, you can then submit your song to the Spotify editorial playlists.
When you fill out the submission form, make sure you select the genres and moods for the song.
But more importantly, be strategic in how you write the description. Most musicians just describe the song in music language and get super nerdy here. The description is actually a pitch.
Imagine pitching this song to someone who isn’t necessarily a musician. Include if you have any other playlist placement, press, etc. as this will give you some authority right away.
Also include the story and value of the song – as well as who your audience is. So make sure you have a clear understanding of who your audience is and present them professionally.
Make it easy for the editors to place your song. Almost do their thinking for them by including keywords and niche areas.
You do all of this through your Spotify for Artist page.
If you do not have access to this right now because a label published your music or you haven’t claimed it through Spotify – make sure you get on it.
4. Promote on Social Medias
When somebody follows you on social media, they want to hear more about you in addition to your music. If they just want to listen to your music, they would go directly to Spotify and listen there.
But if somebody follows and engages with you on social media, they are on the way to becoming a fan. By consistently sharing content through your channels and engaging with followers, you can also give some real estate to push traffic to your Spotify and the song you have launched.
You can use social media before your track is out to get people to pre-save – and when it’s live – you can use social media to push traffic over to your Spotify.
As you know, the 80/20 rule needs to be applied here, so if you only use your social media channels to promote, there’s not enough value in what you’re giving out for people to remain interested.
You need to give 80% value, personality, identity – where you don’t ask for anything else in return – but just share and engage with your fans.
While the remaining 20% can be used strategically around your single launches. Start creating some video content where you introduce the song and create some previews so you can start building hype.
You should start building momentum a few weeks before by getting people to pre-save and to get people introduced to the project. You can show some behind the scenes footage of you finishing the track or creative decision you make.
Since you can do limited salesy posts (80/20 rule, remember) a good way to share more content is to use the story function or go live. The more personal you can make it, the better.
If you can move traffic from other channels over to your Spotify; you will then increase the page visits on your profile, streams on your tracks as well as increase your followers.
Just like at the start of successful YouTube videos, people tell viewers to go and subscribe. You should adopt something similar in your approach. I know it’s so salesy and spammy but try to find a way to do it in your own style. Because it works.
It will increase your metrics and more people will follow, etc. The more traffic you receive on your Spotify profile, the better.
Which means people are spending time on your profile and content. This is good for the algorithm. So try to find ways to move people to your Spotify every week, consistently from your channels.
Then you show the algorithm you are getting a steady flow of traffic on your page. This can be as simple as publishing a weekly playlist to your audience so they head over to your profile and spend time there.
5. Use Ads
Every musician should allocate a small budget per single release to setup ads. You can even use ads before you launch to get people to pre-save so you can increase the initial boost on launch day.
If you want to use the Facebook/Instagram Ads to push traffic over to Spotify, you need to go in and create the ads through the Facebook Ads Manager.
Select “Website Traffic” as the goal and start building your ad.
Insert the Spotify URL to the song or pre-save… Then, create a video ad where you might perhaps introduce the value of the song. Either by including the value, story in the caption and just preview the song in a video – or include an intro where you showcase the value – then show a preview – then a call to action to tell them to stream the whole song on Spotify.
Try out different things here and see what works. I recommend you play around with audiences and create 2 different audiences.
The first is your ‘custom audiences’ which are the ones who have already interacted with you, while the other is complete strangers.
The reason you need to separate these when you run ads, is that you will most likely pay a lot less for an interaction from someone who has already interacted with you previously vs. a complete stranger.
So set up firstly, set up a ‘custom audience’ (whoever interacted on your page + website).
Secondly, set up a ‘lookalike audience’ based on the custom audience and use this in targeted geographical locations. For example, you can go into your analytics on Spotify and see which locations your listeners are located – then target those areas with your lookalike.
But you will most likely pay a lot more to get a stranger over to your Spotify vs somebody who has seen you before.
Start with a small budget – even $5 per day gets you tons of visibility.
When you see a recipe that works with your audience, the content you have made – then I would increase the budget and start seriously boosting.
What you will see when you start getting a consistent flow of traffic on your song and profile is that you will then start getting more organic visibility as well.
6. Be Consistent
The biggest hack with any platform is actually to be consistent with sharing content. The platforms all value consistency over frequency.
This has really changed the music industry and how they launch music.
You see lots of big projects scattered over longer time-frames on a continuous basis when acts are launching music. The world has changed and people want things straight away.
People do not wait around for years for new music to be launched. Since the streaming platforms value consistency – musicians are focusing more on distributing less but more often.
If you can schedule a launch every other month – you are good – it leaves enough time to promote before and after.
Then you will start building your music library and when someone lands on your profile – you have a lot of content for them to check out.
When people see consistency in your launches, they see recent dates on your latest tracks.
It makes you relevant. Take a look at the Latin artists right now who are killing it with their content production.
They launch new songs, remixes, and collabs every month. They are giving the platform both frequent content as well as consistency.
The algorithm will be super happy and is giving them the listeners in return.
Like any other content platform/social media – you need to play by the rules – be a star pupil for the algorithm. With just a few adjustments to your approach, you can create some crazy good visibility on your account and reach new fans across the world.