Hello, my friend! 🙂
Congratulations on taking a critical step on your journey to success on Spotify: educating yourself.
These are the 6 steps (we can call them secrets) I went through myself to get on over 7 official Spotify editorial playlists and have my music streamed well over 300,000 times.
Before diving into the 6 secrets with more detail, here they are plainly laid out for you:
- Learn how Spotify (and it’s algorithm) works.
- Learn the strategy needed to “game” the algorithm and succeed on Spotify.
- Decide on a traffic source (aka how you are going to drive people to your music).
- Build the assets needed to run your music marketing campaign.
- Launch and monitor your music marketing campaign.
- Aggressively continue to rinse and repeat the strategy, while learning from your past campaigns.
This free course is built in a step-by-step format. The best way to take advantage of this course is to read through it first to get a good understanding of all the concepts and then go through each step one-by-one as you put them into action and solidify your understanding.
So without further adieu, let’s dive into the 6 secrets for Spotify success, my friend. 🙂
Secret 1: How Spotify & it’s algorithm works
The first step to success on Spotify is to really dig into learning how Spotify works.
After all, if you are trying to get something out of any platform, whether it be Spotify, Facebook, Instagram, or whatever… you need to know how they work and what they are trying to achieve.
These platforms have their own goals, and by helping THEM achieve THEIR goals, only then will YOU be rewarded.
Algorithms, algorithms, algorithms…
The Spotify algorithm’s purpose is very similar to the purpose of the Google and YouTube algorithms.
Looking at those algorithms will show you that the main thing they are trying to do is give you the most valuable content so that you stay on the platform and spend as much time on that platform as possible.
Truly understanding the purpose of the algorithm will put you in the best possible position to “game” the Spotify algorithm.
The Spotify algorithm explained:
The Spotify algorithm in particular is always trying to recommend songs that people want to listen to so that people spend more time inside the Spotify app.
So why is this?
The more time a user spends inside the Spotify app, the more opportunities Spotify has to:
- Sell advertisements
- Keep users happy with paying for the Premium subscription
- Tell investors their numbers are great so that Spotify continues to get external investment money
So, if the Spotify algorithm notices that any song is being listened to more than normal, is actually being saved by its listeners and these listeners are then following the artist then it is in Spotify’s best interests to push that song out to similar people.
Spotify does this by monitoring millions of data points that revolve around user listening habits and compares them with similar user’s listening habits to build personalized playlists and look out for songs that are growing in popularity.
Does genre matter?
The Spotify algorithm simply rewards anyone who gives it what it wants regardless of genre.
As long as it sees ANY group of people listening to ANY song multiple times and saving it to their libraries, it is in Spotify’s best interest to send that to similar people.
The more any platform can increase the amount of time their users spend on their platform, the more money they stand to make. They reward creators who help them achieve that. This is the exact same concept as YouTube search and Google search.
Secret 2: The strategy
Now that we have a good understanding of how Spotify and it’s algorithm works, we can take a look at how we can “game” the algorithm by giving it what it wants so that it gives us what we want: juicy and sweet streams, baby!
In the previous section, we really focused on what Spotify wants without really covering what is in it for us and how we can achieve our goals.
So… how does Spotify reward artists?
Spotify rewards artists by giving them the opportunity to get placed on Spotify’s algorithmic and editorial playlists. Getting your song placed on one of these playlists means your song will get shown to thousands of new listeners who are similar to your current listeners.
Spotify Editorial Playlists: playlists on Spotify that are curated by Spotify’s music experts and genre specialists. Each playlist usually revolves around a theme such as a genre, sub-genre, mood, or even particular activities like working or running.
Spotify Algorithmic Playlists: playlists on Spotify that are automatically created for each user based on Spotify’s algorithms. Spotify monitors user listening habits and compares them with similar user’s listening habits to build a personalized playlist such as Release Radar and Discover Weekly.
The way you can get on any of these playlists is by pitching your music directly to Spotify inside of the Spotify For Artists dashboard.
Here is what you need to know about submitting your music to Spotify:
- You can only pitch 1 song at a time (making EPs and albums useless)
- You should pitch at least 1 week before release day to be considered.
- Submitting 1 week before release day will also guarantee your song gets on the Release Radar of all your Spotify followers.
Sounds great right?
Well, there is a huge catch…
The Spotify editors aren’t going to give a shit about you or your music.
So what is the solution, then you ask, my friend?
You make them give a shit. And here is how:
Play the algorithm game
Previously, I mentioned how the Spotify algorithm works and that it is always looking for ways to recommend great music to its users so that they stay on Spotify longer and help Spotify achieve its business goals.
Here is the secret to the algorithm…
If the Spotify algorithm notices that ANY song is:
- Being saved by the people who listen to it at a good percentage (40% or higher)
- Is being listened to often (1.8 times on average or higher)
- Is being added to lots of normal listener and higher profile playlists
Then it is in Spotify’s best interests to push that song out to similar people.
Spotify does this by pushing your song onto the algorithmic playlists of Spotify users that aren’t even following you on Spotify.
That’s right… your song can be on the Release Radar and Discover Weekly playlists of thousands of people that aren’t yet fans of your music.
On top of this, if the algorithm sees that people are also following your profile after listening, it is another indicator that they should push this song out and watch out for your next releases as well.
If you can get the Spotify algorithm to work for you in this way, the increase in positive numbers overall will also inevitably catch the attention of Spotify editors, which may lead to lucrative Editorial playlists in the future.
How To Get On Spotify Algorithmic Playlists
To get on algorithmic Spotify playlists, there are only 2 things you need to do:
- Pitch the song to the Spotify editors at least 1 week prior to your release day in the Spotify For Artists dashboard.
- Drive meaningful traffic (aka streams) to your new song within the first 2 to 3 weeks of your song’s release.
The first part is dead simple, so I am going to focus on telling you about how you can drive meaningful traffic (aka streams) to your new release and what meaningful traffic means in the next section.
Secret 3: Traffic
You need to drive people to your Spotify profile so that they can see and stream your latest release and easily follow your profile.
Here are a few ways you can do this:
- Get on other Spotify playlists.
- Create your own Spotify playlists.
- Run ads using Facebook ads, Instagram ads, Google ads, etc.
- Use social media.
In my experience, the only tactic that I am able to control and see positive key metrics is by running Facebook and Instagram ads.
However, you can use any tactic you’d like as long as you can make sure that your song is hitting the key metrics.
The key metrics:
For every new release, the Spotify algorithm is looking for a few key metrics in addition to the number of streams your song is getting, including:
Save Rate – How many of your listeners are actually saving your song.
Listen Rate – How many times (on average) your listeners are listening to your song.
Playlist Adds – How many people are adding your songs to their own playlists.
New Followers – How many people follow your Spotify artist profile during the release of your song.
Each of these things tells the Spotify algorithm that your song is good and should be pushed out to more people and the best way to measure how your song is performing and if it is hitting the key metrics is by using a Spotify Tracker for artists (more on that later).
What are good metrics?
When you are first starting out, a Save Rate of 40% or higher is likely to trigger the algorithm when combined with a Listen Rate of 1.8 or higher and a decent amount of total streams for your song (400+).
If you are seeing these numbers, watch carefully on the upcoming Friday as you have a high potential of triggering the Spotify algorithm and getting pushed into the Release Radar playlists of users that DON’T follow your profile! 🙂
My experience experimenting with social media:
I have experimented with scheduling a bunch of posts on my Instagram, and I essentially get 0 “link in bio” clicks each release (maybe 5 or 6 at most).
However, I have a feeling Spotify listening behavior is different: people may see the post and then look up the song in the app later.
If they aren’t doing that, Instagram is basically where I get people hyped about what I’m doing and involved in my successes, and is not a meaningful way to drive traffic to my Spotify songs (in my experience).
This is what I’ve found with Instagram:
- My posts stop reaching people after like 12 hours.
- I track a separate link in bio URL that gets a few page views per month.
- Friends and fans only share the news about my release MAYBE once at the beginning of your release.
- I did notice that if I start stacking some wins and post about them in my story, my inbox will absolutely explode with positive messages.
Full disclosure: I might just be bitter because I consistently posted 5 new things per week for about 10 months, didn’t see any explosive growth after hitting 1,000 followers, and now only get a handful of tracked page views per month to my dang song!! haha…ugh 🙁
How To Avoid Fake Streams & Scam Playlists
In your journey of trying to become the ultimate artist on Spotify, you will inevitably encounter company after company that is trying to take advantage of you.
A perfect example of this is a playlisting company like Spotify Jedi.
Spotify Jedi was a scam service that offered to get artists streams for a monthly fee. And, at the time of writing this, Spotify Jedi is no longer even active and the internet is even overflowing with negative reviews on the service.
Services like Spotify Jedi are a scam because they offer to put artists on playlists filled with bots, click farm labor, and/or deactivated accounts in exchange for money.
So.. why is this a problem? Streams are streams, right?
Spotify can take away streams if they believe any streams are coming from fraudulent sources.
So.. why are companies doing scams like this?
As Spotify has grown more popular, bad actors have entered the mix trying to game the system by selling streams and making money off of artists.
Check out my article, Spotify Jedi – Scam Or Legit?, for more information on scam services and how you can spot them.
My experience (and strategy) with running Facebook ads
Hands down, my preferred method is to run Facebook/Instagram ads.
In my experience, this has been the best traffic source that I can control and can help me hit the key metrics that are important to the Spotify algorithm.
Unfortunately, Facebook ads is a massive topic and are very much out of the scope of this free course.
But essentially what I’m doing is running ads to a targeted audience of people who are likely to like my music, sending them to a landing page where I can track the success of my paid campaigns and easily “retarget” my next song to them.
Either way, make sure you pick a solid traffic source as this will be your main way of sending quality traffic over to Spotify that will inevitably trip the algorithm and massively grow your Spotify streams.
Secret 4: Assets
In order to succeed on Spotify, you need to have all the assets needed to run successful music marketing campaigns.
Important assets include:
- Recorded music
- A music distributor to get your music on Spotify
- Access to the Spotify For Artists dashboard
- Videos (for ads and social posts)
- Photos (for ads, social posts and your Spotify profile)
- A professional website
- A song-specific landing page to send your traffic to
- A Spotify tracker to track the performance of your campaigns
Making great music, taking photos, and making videos are all you but I can help you with getting everything else set up.
Get your music on Spotify
To create a Spotify artist account, claim your account by visiting the Spotify For Artists claim page if your music is already on Spotify. If your music is not yet on Spotify, use a music distributor that automatically gives you access.
Music distributors that give you instant access to the Spotify For Artists dashboard and allow you to be a verified Spotify artist include:
- CD Baby
The distributor I prefer to use is DistroKid because the price is fair, they don’t take a percentage of my streaming royalties and they allow me to upload unlimited songs (which is critical to our strategy).
For a comparison of the 2 main DistroKid plans, check out my article: DistroKid Musician vs Musician Plus.
Website & landing pages
When it comes to websites and landing pages, I prefer the method of building your own so that you don’t have to pay monthly fees to companies like ToneDen or Linktree.
Plus, there are a lot more things you can do with a fully functioning website. These include:
- Build your own website with a homepage, contact page, about me page, etc
- Add in a Store page where you can start selling merch
- Start your own blog
- Create fully customizable ToneDen, Hypeddit, LinkTree – style pages
Two solid ways to get started are by creating a Squarespace-based website or a WordPress-based website.
They are both great options, but I personally use and would recommend WordPress.
Here is why:
- There are no monthly fees
- More customization and flexibility because of the endless amount of plugins available
- The option to use pre-made templates already in the style of Linktree, Toneden, Hypeddit, etc.
All you need to do is use a web hosting service like Bluehost that gives you a website domain and completely sets up WordPress on it for you.
This next step is definitely optional if you want to save some cash, but I think it is pretty important for you to be able to easily create webpages that look great and do what you want them to (without having to be a nerd coder hehe).
After getting all set up in the first step, I would then recommend installing a drag-and-drop theme or WordPress plugin like Thrive Architect. A plugin like this actually allows you to visually create beautiful webpages by moving things around instead of coding.
I personally use and recommend Thrive Architect because you can pay upfront (no monthly fees) and they are constantly adding new features for you to use. Seriously: it feels like they are adding some new feature or update every week.
If you go the WordPress + Thrive route, you can click here to download the landing page template I used for Lofi Nights (the song that I got 300,000 streams + added to 7 editorial playlists with).
Spotify Streams Tracker
Tracking the performance of your campaign is incredibly important.
I have a custom spreadsheet (aka the Spotify Tracker) that I will give to you where I input daily Spotify data (streams, the percentages of where streams are coming from, saves and listeners for each day) and ad metrics (view content, landing page view, clicks, and ad spend).
I use the spreadsheet to essentially measure my save rate and listen rate, which, as previously mentioned, are two of the things that the Spotify algorithm is looking for.
More on this tracker and a free download of the Spotify Tracker in the next section, my friend. 🙂
Secret 5: Launch and monitor
The next step is to actually launch your music marketing campaign and monitor the results.
The goal here is to submit your music to Spotify at least 2 – 3 weeks before release day so that you can pitch that song to the Spotify editors at least 1 – 2 weeks before release day.
Before release day, you want to make sure you have decided on a traffic source and have built out all the assets you need to run your music marketing campaign.
In my experience it looks like: a couple of hundred streams + a save rate of over 40% + an average listen rate of 1.8+ = Release Radar push.
Over time the amount of streams I personally need to catch fire seems to go down (first time it was 900 streams, then 700, then 500, etc).
Remember: songs can only be pushed to the algorithmic Release Radar playlists in the song’s first 30 days of being released.
If you cant get your song to trip the algorithm within the first 3 weeks of release, I would recommend switching your focus (and marketing dollars) to getting the next song to catch as soon as possible.
Why is that?
Personally, if I can’t get my song to pop off in under 3 weeks, the additional streams from Release Radar aren’t even worth it since I will only be on those playlists for another week or so, so I switch course to the next release.
The Spotify Tracker For Artists
As an artist on Spotify, it is incredibly important to track your streams using a Spotify stream tracker to make sure you are growing your Spotify stats on a regular basis.
A Spotify tracker for artists is a way for Spotify artists to leverage the data available in the Spotify For Artists dashboard to calculate the same stats the Spotify algorithm is looking at and help you grow your Spotify streams.
Although the Spotify For Artists website and app are incredibly useful, there are 2 main things that it can’t do…
- You can’t see how your music performed on a specific day without manually tracking your stats using your own Spotify tracker spreadsheet.
- You can’t easily see the important statistics that the Spotify algorithm tracks: the repeat listen rate and the stream-to-listener ratio.
The solution to this problem is simple: use a Spotify stream tracker, which you can download by clicking right here.
For a full breakdown of how to use the Spotify tracker, I would recommend reading my article: Spotify Tracker For Artists | The Best Way To Track Spotify Stats & Grow Spotify Streams.
For a full breakdown of the Spotify For Artists dashboard (where you will find the stats and data needed for the tracker), I would recommend reading my article: Spotify For Artists – App & Dashboard Guide.
Secret 6: Rinse and repeat
To truly understand how I got over 300,000 streams and landed a song on 7 different Spotify editorial playlists, it is important to note my track record and what lead up to this momentous occasion:
- From January 2020 to April 2020, I released at least one song per month and got very little success with almost every song still not surpassing 1,000 streams to this day.
- In May 2020, I released a song called ‘Orbiting’ and ran Facebook/Instagram ads for the first time to help get a song past the 1,000 stream mark for the first time.
- In June 2020, I released a song called ‘Lilo’ which triggered the algorithm for the first time, landing me on the Release Radar playlist and helping me hit over 5,000+ streams.
- In July 2020, I released a song called ‘Sax Appeal’ which only hit the Release Radar playlist at the tail end of its first month (which ultimately flopped and only got about 2,000+ streams).
- In August 2020, I released a song called ‘Kuebiko’ which hit the Release Radar playlist a little earlier in its first month but was still kind of a flop hitting 3,000+ streams.
- In September 2020, I did a remix of my friend Malory’s song ‘Killer Cut Offs’ that got on Spotify’s ‘Fresh Finds: Basement’ playlist which helped us hit 10,000+ streams.
- In October 2020, I released a weird take on Canada’s national anthem that super flopped and still hasn’t hit 1,000 streams as of the writing of this article.
Then I released ‘Lofi Nights’ and everything blew up (at the time of writing this it has over 400,000 streams).
How you can make and release music faster
As you can see, it is important to keep releasing music so that, you:
- Get more chances to trip the Spotify algorithm
- Get more chances to get the attention of the Spotify editors
- Learn more about your music, your audience, and how you can improve your music marketing efforts
Here are a few quick tips on how you can make and release music faster:
- Look up music production tutorials on YouTube like a freak so that you know your music-making software and instrument(s) inside and out.
- Adopt a “done is better than perfect” mindset. You’ll pump more out and you might even find out that some of the songs you thought sucked are people’s favorite songs of yours.
- Challenge yourself to write and release a full song every single week for 1 year. Not every song will be amazing but you will get wayyyyyyy faster and better at making music. You can then take the best songs and give them a proper release on Spotify.
Be consistent, be persistent, and don’t give up
Your goal should be to release a new song every 4 to 6 weeks and implement a real music marketing campaign behind each and every release.
As you can see, not only did I release music every single month, but I also continued to try to trip the Spotify algorithm. On top of this, I failed several times with a bunch of flops.
Heck.. The song I released right before my big break was relatively the biggest flop of my Spotify career.
It’s my educated opinion that this consistency, combined with strategies like trying to give the Spotify algorithm what it wants and doing a collaboration with an artist at a higher place than me ultimately gave the Spotify editors no other choice than to take a look at what I am doing more seriously.