Advice for Moving Up and Not Sliding Off a Popular Playlist
With over two billion editorial and user-generated playlists on Spotify alone — and two million more added every single day — curated collections are a hot commodity for artists trying to get their music heard and shared. Landing on a major playlist can help create awareness and engagement around tracks. Previously, we’ve talked about the best tips to get added to a playlist… but what happens after that? Is there a way to help your tracks rise and stay on a playlist longer?
“Tracks move up or down on playlists depending on their performance,” says Amelie Bonvalot, AWAL’s Senior Director, UK/Rest of World (ROW) Digital Sales & Account Management, “because [editors and curators] see that people are more likely to listen to something that is doing well.”
While artists, labels, and companies have no control where a song lands on a playlist initially — those decisions are all made by the individual playlist’s curators and are based on everything from the buzz around a track to their vision for the playlist’s flow — there are a few things you can do to try and improve your chances of either moving up on or staying on a playlist.
It’s important to note that there’s no surefire, one-size-fits-all solution to either landing on or staying on a playlist, but the following tips are meant as best practices that can help shape your playlist strategy.
1. Share the news
When your song is added to a playlist, says Bonvalot, the test is to not only see how well the track performs on its own but within the playlist itself. It’s crucial that you spread the word via social media, your newsletter, or any other channels to let your followers know about the add.
If your song is added to several playlists at once, spread out your posts and announcements according to how timely the add is. For example, New Music Friday playlists are revamped every week, so you’ll want to let your followers know about your add as soon as possible. Other playlists are more evergreen — like genre-based playlists, for example — so there’s more time to shout about those additions.
2. Encourage fans to stream the track
An increased amount of streams for a song is great all the way around, but the key here is to direct followers to listen to the track on the actual playlist. “The more you get your fans to engage with your music on-platform,” says Nicki Shamel, AWAL’s Senior Director, Digital Sales & Account Management for North America “the greater chance of increased exposure you'll have.”
Beyond merely streaming the track within the playlist, it’s also a great idea to encourage fans to add the song to their own collections and playlists. “If there is an add to a collection or a save from that playlist, that's going to contribute to the performance of the track within the playlist,” says Bonvalot.
3. Craft a great message
According to Bonvalot, the way artists message their fans about their playlist adds has a major impact on performance and encouraging fans to stream the track. Beyond fans, calling out the DSP that added the track to a playlist is a great way to show appreciation for the support and demonstrate that you’re driving your fans back to those platforms.
One example of a social post that would tick all the boxes is along the lines of, “Amazing! Thanks, @Spotify, for adding my track “XXX” to New Music Friday! Stream it now using the link below.” Include either a direct link to the playlist or the song within the playlist (now possible on Apple Music) and/or an image of the playlist cover depending on which platform you’re using.
4. Keep building buzz around your track
In our previous article, we talked about “marketing drivers” that help show playlist editors that you, as the artist, are doing your part to build hype around the track. These initiatives can include growing your social following, any press write-ups or reviews, even performing or touring. And while these elements are important for that initial playlist add, you should continue to build on them to show that awareness of your song and music is spreading.
“Any kind of pickup that you see on blogs, magazines, and any other media outlets is definitely going to contribute to the awareness of the track,” says Bonvalot, “Showing DSPs that there is something happening off-platform is definitely a way to justify why they should listen to a track.
“Create some recognition. It's almost like working a track as a brand.”
5. Engage on-platform
Along with cultivating those off-platform marketing drivers, make sure you’re engaging and building your profile within the DSPs. This includes creating your own playlists and even choosing your own, personal “Artist’s Pick” to direct listeners to something you’re listening to or your latest track.
“If you're on tour, share a playlist of the songs you’re listening to when you’re on the road,” suggests Shamel. “If there's a list of artists that you find inspirational or artists that have really had an impact on your career, make a playlist to reflect that. Show that you're engaging with the platform, so not only are you bringing people on board to listen to your music, but you’re also getting people to engage with your profile.”
It’s important to remember that, regardless of your efforts, your track may slip down or off of a playlist. If and when that happens, says Bonvalot, “It doesn't mean it's over. Sometimes, after a while, the track can still become viral if something happens around it.” Continue to work on building that awareness around your track — the buzz may end up translating into a synch placement or radio play, which creates a whole new life for a song that might warrant playlist adds.
If there is one core takeaway that every artist can use to boost their chances of getting added and staying on playlists, it’s simply this: “Keep making good music,” says Bonvalot. And if you’ve been added before, it’s important to stick with that quality and momentum “because that track got on a playlist, so you want to make sure that your next track lands on even more playlists.”