What Is Spotify Radio? How Radio On Spotify Works (Explained)

By Matthew Vultaggio

August 9, 2021

Do you want to know what Spotify Radio is and how it works? Whether you are a listener who wants better music recommendations or you’re an artist wanting to get your songs on Spotify Radio, I’ve researched this topic and found the answers for you.

Spotify Radio is a series of algorithm playlists that can be based on any artist, album, playlist, or song on Spotify. These playlists update over time and usually contain about 50 tracks.

Spotify Radio playlists are available for both Free and Premium users and are automatically created for any artist, album, playlist, or song that is available on Spotify. Other Spotify algorithm playlists that are similar to Radio include Release Radar, Discover Weekly, and Daily Mix.

To learn more about Spotify Radio including how it and the algorithm work, as well as how you can train the algorithm to send you better songs (or even get free streams for your OWN music), simply keep on reading, my friend. 🙂

How Does Spotify Radio Work?

Spotify Radio works by using the Spotify algorithm’s data to find similar songs based on the artist, album, playlist, or song that you have selected.

The Spotify algorithm will look at your listening habits as well as the listening habits of the users who listen to the artist, album, playlist, or song you have selected to create a Spotify Radio playlist made up of about 50 songs.

To start a Spotify Radio playlist on the desktop app, mobile app, or web browser:

  1. Open the Spotify app or web browser
  2. Go to any song, album, artist or playlist
  3. Select the 3 horizontal or vertical dots
  4. Select ‘Go to song/album/playlist/artist radio’ or ‘Start song/album/playlist/artist radio’

Remember: Depending on where on Spotify you are creating the Radio playlist, the option will either say “Go to” or “Start” and will only mention the type you are selecting (ie: Start playlist radio or Go to song radio)

Here is an example of what it looks like to start a playlist radio:

Here is an example of what it looks like to go to a song radio:

Is Spotify Radio Free Or Do You Need A Premium Account?

Spotify Radio playlists are free to use for all Spotify users and a Premium account is not needed to enjoy any Spotify Radio playlist.

The Spotify Radio Algorithm

The Spotify radio algorithm looks at your listening habits as well as the listening habits of the users who listen to the artist, album, playlist, or song you have selected to create a Spotify Radio playlist made up of about 50 songs.

Spotify has a growing number of algorithmic playlists like Spotify Radio that are customized and personalized for each specific Spotify user.

Because these algorithmic playlists are customized for each user based on their listening habits, they are likely to have some great music in them.

This is an example of how the Spotify algorithm works:

For example, no 2 Radio playlists are the same because no 2 Spotify user’s are the same.

Everyone has unique listening habits and the Spotify algorithm takes that into account to provide the best song recommendations possible for each unique Spotify user.

However, the Spotify algorithm does look at the listening habits of other similar users to provide song recommendations.

For example, let’s assume Spotify User A has similar listening habits (artists, songs, times of listening, etc) to Spotify User B.

If Spotify User A starts listening to a new song, and Spotify User B has not yet listened to that new song. The Algorithm will notice that Spotify User B may enjoy this new song and might add this new song to one of Spotify User B’s algorithmic playlists.

How To Fix The Spotify Algorithm

If you’ve ever tried listening to some music you don’t normally listen to, you may notice that Spotify may start recommending you more of that music even if that is not what you really want to listen to.

Thankfully, you can use your knowledge of Spotify’s streaming rules to fix the Spotify algorithm and get better song recommendations.

Here are the top 6 ways to fix the Spotify algorithm to give you better music:

  1. Listen to more of music in the style of what you want to hear more of
  2. Like songs and playlists (by hitting the heart button) in the style you want to hear more of
  3. Add those songs to your own playlists
  4. Go to the profile of artist’s you like and hitting the follow button
  5. Make sure you listen to the songs you want more of past the 30 second mark
  6. Avoid hitting the “skip” button on style’s you want to hear more of

Follow those tips and you should be able to train the algorithm to give you more of what you want. 🙂

The Spotify Algorithm Explained

The main purpose of the Spotify algorithm is to provide great song recommendations to its users so that those users spend as much time on Spotify as possible.

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

A good comparison to Spotify’s algorithm is the Google and YouTube algorithms.

The purpose of the Google and YouTube algorithms is to give you the most valuable content so that you stay on the platform and spend as much time on that platform as possible.

THIS is how you can get FREE streams from Spotify if you are an artist yourself:

These platforms have their own goals, and by helping THEM achieve THEIR goals, only then will YOU be rewarded.

Whether that reward is YouTube views, Google search results, or Spotify Streams.

In the example of Spotify, Spotify may start to reward you with placements in algorithmic playlists and 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, which then leads to a big increase in your Spotify royalties.

Spotify Algorithm Hack

To hack the Spotify algorithm you need to consistently send real, targeted listeners to your music from multiple sources such as directly from your profile, average user playlists, and more influential Spotify user playlists.

There are a few ways you can do this (social media, playlisting, etc) but this is the most effective way I’ve been able to do this myself:

The way I’ve done this (and got on over 7 Spotify editorial playlists and racked up over 3,000,000 streams) is by leveraging Facebook/Instagram ads to target potential fans who listen to similar artists and drive them to Spotify.

By bringing over listeners who are likely to enjoy your music, you have a higher chance of sending the right signals over to the Spotify algorithm.

You can read about this more in my article on the Spotify algorithm hack.

How To Easily Become An Artist On Spotify

To get access to the Spotify For Artists dashboard and become a Spotify artist, you must first actually have music released on Spotify.

So… how do you get your music on Spotify?

To get your music on Spotify, you need to work with a distributor, or with a record label who already has a distributor. They handle all the licensing and distribution, and pay your streaming royalties.


Once you have your music on Spotify, you can simply claim your artist profile by visiting this page.

However, some distributors (like DistroKid), actually automatically claim your artist profile for you when you distribute music through them.

On top of this, it is actually very easy and surprisingly cheap to do this (I ended up using DistroKid myself because of how easy and cheap it is to use).

For a detailed look into this, check out my article on how to create a Spotify artist account (you’ll even learn how to get that beautiful blue verified checkmark).

However, for the best and easiest way to get your music on Spotify properly, take a closer look at DistroKid and my big fat DistroKid review to learn everything about them.

There is even a handy How To Choose A Distributor Guide and some info on the nice DistroKid discount.

With that said, it is always a good idea to do some of your own research and see what other distributors are out there on the market.

Some other options to check out

Although I personally use, love, and recommend DistroKid, it is always a good idea to see how they compare to the other guys.

Luckily for you, I’ve done just that. 🙂

Check out the comparisons of DK to some other popular music distributors:

However, if you would like to get your music on Spotify for free, there are some catches but, it is completely do-able!

Let’s take a look into how you can get your tunes on Spotify for free, just below. 🙂

How To Check Spotify Streams (For Artists & Listeners)

To check Spotify streams, visit the artist’s Spotify profile and see the songs listed under the “Popular” section. Artists can check their Spotify streams for any of their songs by signing up and logging into Spotify For Artists.

For a more detailed, step-by-step approach to how you can check Spotify streams with both of these methods, check out my article on How To Check Spotify Streams.

How To See Who Liked Your Playlist On Spotify

You can find out how many people follow any Spotify playlist by opening the playlist in Spotify and looking for follower / like count near the playlist’s title and information. Although you can see how many followers you have, you can’t see the individual profiles.

The follower / like count will show up in different areas depending on if you view the playlist in the desktop app, smartphone app, and web browser

To learn more about if this feature will ever come to Spotify, if there are any workarounds, or how you can see the number of Spotify playlist followers in detail, check out my article called How To See Who Liked Your Playlist On Spotify. 🙂

How To Upload To Spotify As An Artist (& Get Paid)?

Want to upgrade from just running a Spotify playlist to actually get your own music on Spotify and becoming an official Spotify artist?

To upload to Spotify as an artist, you need to sign up with one of Spotify’s preferred music distributors and submit your music, artwork, and artist information through that distributor.

Thankfully it’s easy for anyone to upload music to Spotify because a company called DistroKid came along and started offering unlimited song uploads for a small annual fee without taking a percentage of any of your earnings away.

Before DistroKid, it was too expensive and complicated (..you had to pay PER song EVERY year).

To learn more about DistroKid, check out my big fat DistroKid review for everything you will ever need to know about them. There is even a handy How To Choose A Distributor Guide and some info on the nice DistroKid discount.

If you are wondering want to know more details about how to do this yourself, how exactly you can claim your artist profile, and actually make some money by uploading music to Spotify, check out my article called How To Upload To Spotify As An Artist (& Get Paid)

Some of my favorite music marketing tools

Thank you for reading this article, my friend, and I hope you found it helpful as you build your own successful career in music. 🙂

Here is a list of my favorite and most recommended tools and resources that I’ve personally used to get my music streamed over 4,000,000 times on Spotify as an artist.

Any of the paid services or tools listed here are most likely affiliate links, so if you do decide to use any of them, I’ll earn a small commission.

But in all honesty, these are the exact tools that I personally use, love, and recommend to anyone – including my own friends and family.

Music Distribution

To get your music on Spotify on all the other streaming services, I use DistroKid because you get unlimited song uploads for a low annual price.

If you want to learn more about DistroKid and music distribution, check out the in-depth DistroKid review that I’ve put together.

Or, if you want to get started with DistroKid right now, you can save on your first year with the DistroKid discount.

Facebook Ads For Spotify Success

Although Facebook Ads can be a real pain to get working properly, there is no denying that they are incredible for growing Spotify streams and getting your music in front of real fans.

This is why I’ve put together a completely free course that you can check out called Facebook Ads For Musicians’ Spotify Streams. 🙂

Music Publishing Royalties Collection

For collecting all of the publishing, mechanical, and live performance royalties owed to me whenever my music gets streamed or played, my go-to is Songtrust.

Songtrust is a publishing administration company which means that in addition to collecting all of those royalties for me, they do it on a global level.

To learn if Songtrust is right for you, I’d recommend checking out this article on Songtrust vs BMI.

And if you want to get started with Songtrust right now, I’d recommend learning about the Songtrust discount code so that you can get the best price. 🙂

Website & Smart Links

I’m personally not a big fan of the link-in-bio and smart links for music pages like ToneDen and Hyppeddit.

Instead, I prefer having a full-blown WordPress website that allows me to have a full website in addition to unlimited music links.

For getting started with this, I really like Bluehost because it is the cheapest and a theme called Thrive Themes because it is the most flexible and easiest to use.

I’ve actually created a free Smart Links Course that you can take to learn how to get set up and start getting more streams with custom smart links (I’ve even included the templates I am using!).

Want more tools and resources for your music career?

If you’d like to see even more of my favorite marketing tools and resources for musicians and music artists, I’ve created an even larger list on this page: Best Marketing Tools & Resources For Musicians (& Music Artists).

P.S. There are even some free tools and resources included on that page as well! 🙂

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