6 Types Of Spotify Playlists
Have a strong plan in place can help you to identify the right opportunities to go after to get your music heard and shared. One key aspect of Spotify that artists must utilize is Spotify Playlists. Your goal should be to get placements on playlists that suit your style of music to get your music heard by more and more people. Below we outline the different types of playlists out there and how you as an artist can work to leverage them within your distribution strategy.
1. Curated Spotify Playlists
These are the most sought-after playlists from an artist’s perspective and usually the “Go To” playlists we turn to as music fans in search of the hottest music.
These playlists are run by curators working at Spotify and tend to be a lot harder for an artist to get on depending on a number of factors. If you were to ask one of these curators what the secret is to getting your song on their playlist, the resounding answer seems to be “We will find you”.
Essentially what they are saying is “Of course we will have you on our playlist” IF you are already creating a buzz. The factors these curators are looking at when selecting songs for these playlists are:
Do you have a good following?
Is there buzz being generated around your single/album/artist page?
Are tastemakers and other playlists aware of you and including you on their playlists?
These are a few of the things they are looking at but let’s be honest; these playlists are largely filled with well established artists. By no means is it impossible for you to land a spot on these playlists but it will take some work and more often than not it comes down to who you know mixed with the hype being generated around you.
If you want to get on to one of these playlists, simple outreach may not do the trick. You will certainly have to grow your organic following, induce engagement among your fan base and get on to a number of other different types of Spotify playlists which we describe below. These are a lot easier to obtain and will provide you with the small wins required to obtain the desired placement on a curated playlist.
With that said, be honest with yourself and where you are at in your music career. If you are just starting out and do not have a large following do not spend all your energy reaching out to these large curated playlists. Keep in mind everyone is so focused on these playlists so the amount of submissions they receive could be quite annoying from their perspective. Hence why the whole mantra of “we will find you” seems to resonate throughout the curator world.
2. Algorithmic Playlists
Next on the list are two more playlists that are controlled by Spotify, Discover Weekly and Release Radar. These are heavily based on the tastes and habits of listeners and if you can get your songs on them you certainly won’t be disappointed.
Unfortunately knocking on doors and trying to force your way on to these playlists is nothing more than a pipe dream. The ironic thing is that these playlists are the ones you need to be shooting for more so than those flashy curated playlist we just discussed.
Why is that you ask?
Well placement on these playlists means that you have been doing the proper legwork of getting people to follow you and your music, generating buzz and getting other playlist placements. In doing so you are giving Spotify a reason to promote you to an audience who would be a great fit for your music.
If you are not sending hints to Spotify that your music is noteworthy (follows, buzz, placements, etc.) then you are not giving them a reason to promote you further.
What do these 2 playlists represent?
Release Radar is a Spotify playlist that users are sent every Friday. The list comes updated with two hours of fresh new songs and relevant tracks from artists that you have shown interest in as a Spotify user. If someone has been continually coming back to your music recently you can bet Spotify will be including one of your tracks on their playlist.
Discover Weekly on the other hand is slightly different as this is sent to users every Monday and is chosen based on the users listening history as well as other Spotify users with similar taste profiles in music. It’s like a music subscription box metaphorically speaking. You don’t know what you are getting but chances are you will like it based on your taste in music.
Both of these lists are very important to your success on Spotify for the mere fact that users are falling in love with these playlists and look forward to receiving them with sheer anticipation. Meaning that you’re being heard by new audiences and an audience who is receptive to what Spotify is suggesting they will like. Essentially free promotion from Spotify!
The more followers you have, the more fans who’ll never miss out on your new tunes. The more people who enjoy a new release early on, the more Spotify will serve that music up on more algorithmic playlists. Put in the work required and this could very well be a possibility for you.
3. Branded Playlists
Branded Playlists are third party playlist that are not directly a part of Spotify. These are your top blogs, record labels, managers, agents etc. who have gone out and started their own playlists.
These playlists have striking similarities with Spotify Curated playlists for a couple of reasons.
For one they have brand recognition and with that comes an immense popularity and again that grand thought of “if only I can land a placement on this playlist, how great things will be”. Yet the harsh reality again is that everyone is thinking that and this creates a bottleneck of submissions to these playlist and lowers the chances of you getting through.
Let’s face it these entities are about leverage and how they can further their agendas, so unless you have something to offer and bring to the table, usually in the form of a strong following or marketing dollars, then you may be in tough.
Now by no means am I telling you to not submit your music to these platforms, but I just want you to know what you are stacked up against. Again, this heavily depends on where you are in your career and if you are less established this will certainly be a lot more difficult but by no means is it impossible.
One caveat to this however is that some of these playlists want to be seen as tastemakers meaning that they have an ear to what is growing in popularity and on the rise. In order for a tastemaker to maintain this image they can’t just focus on established artists so these types of playlists will be more open to hearing out artist they may not have heard of yet or who are not as established in their careers.
What I would suggest is to focus on playlists that are lesser known or on the rise. For example, the record label that is on the rise with only a few acts under their belt and has a decent playlist or the promotion company in a similar position.
Again, your strategy here should focus on being realistic and what is going to get you the most gain for your effort. Someone who is more at your level will be more understanding and willing to help out in most cases.
4. Your Own Playlists
Now this feature on Spotify is something you definitely need to be taking advantage of. It is essentially cutting out the middleman and creating your own platform to showcase your music in front of an attentive audience.
It’s actually quite interesting how we will do whatever it takes to piggyback off of other people’s success instead of creating our own path. In my opinion I sort of agree with the curators that say “we will find you”. It’s funny how we talk about taking back the power from the labels but yet here we are forming our own barriers to entry when we don’t have to.
We in a way are treating these playlists as a label and we so desperately feel that getting on to one will change our lives. It might but in the same glance it might not. So why not use the resources available to you and eliminate that mindset of someone needing to do something for you in order for you to succeed.
With Spotify’s feature to create your own playlists you have the ability to create a platform that will provide you with the very audience you are trying to obtain. Will it be easy? No but if you put the time in you essentially will have created an asset that nobody can take away from you.
Hear me out for a second... You reach out to 100 playlists and maybe land a couple placements, or you spend $100s of dollars, possibly more, to get placement. That’s great and all and you may get a bit of a boost from your efforts.
However, what happens next month when that playlist decides to take you off their list? Or they stop keeping up with and promoting the playlist? Or the playlist service you are using shuts down due to legal issues that Spotify deems out of scope with their terms and policies?
All of these things are a reality and there is nothing you can do about it. I suggest stop looking for a quick fix and ensure that you are in control as much as possible.
By creating your own playlists you are in control and the success of that playlist depends on you and the amount of effort you decide to put in to take it where you want it to go. These playlists become like your songs and albums and should be treated as such, as assets to help further your career.
You should build a playlist of your own based on music that relates to the music you are making as a musician and work hard to grow the following of these playlists. From there you have the power to strategically include your songs and still maintain the integrity of your list.
Funny thing is, if done right you will have people knocking at your door trying to get on your list which is a great spot to be in and provides a number of other opportunities for you as an artist.
5. Other Peoples’ Playlists
Now I personally feel like these playlists get overlooked the most along with the playlists you can create on your own. I say this because I do not think people see the value in these types of playlists for a number of valid reasons.
For one there is no brand recognition, they usually have a really small following and the person behind them is usually just doing it for fun.
The fact of the matter is though, you need these small wins to get you to the big wins. As they say slow money is better than no money and, in this case, slow growth is better than no growth at all.
The fact is getting on to these playlists is going to be a lot easier in most cases because most artists are not focusing their attention here. Furthermore, it can be a flattering thing to be approached by an artist wanting to get on your playlist when you don’t see yourself as some huge curator.
If your goal is to get on those curated and algorithmic playlists, then you need this traction for a number of reasons that we mentioned above. This will help prove to Spotify that there is engagement around your music and help you to start getting considered for more prominent playlists.
In any case always be polite and use some tact when approaching any playlist for that matter. You want to develop a relationship and not just go in for the kill right away even though that can seem tempting, I caution you to avoid this approach at all costs.
6. Collaborative Playlists
These are playlists that are started by others or that you can create but allow anyone to add to the playlist. It is a cool way to create a bit of community and have your songs on a playlist that others are seeing.
No there is no definitive data on how much these types of playlist help you with Spotify’s algorithm, but one can be certain it doesn’t hurt to be on them. I am sure that the ease at which you can just place your music on them can’t hold much weight, but it certainly is better to be on them than not.
A variation of this that I believe would be a much stronger strategy is to get a few friends together or other musicians you know of and develop a playlist together. Granted this won’t be collaborative in the sense that others can openly add to it but at least this way you know all the people adding to the list and have a better chance of monitoring it and having everyone cross promote it.
I have also seen this with collaborative albums where people will create a playlist for music they have worked on together and promote it together.
In closing, I strongly suggest that you focus on strategies that provide you with the most control in the end. I personally would focus on building your own playlists and giving them the attention they need so that they become an asset for you down the road.
With that said there is certainly merit in hustling to find potential playlists that you can submit your music to and get an extra boost in your following and engagement. Just remember that you get what you put in and sometimes the easy way doesn’t always amount to the desired result.
Have a plan and strategy in mind and make sure that you are using your time effectively to arrive at your desired outcome.
If you found this post helpful be sure to share it and let us know in the comments what your experience has been like trying to get on the different types of playlists discussed!