The Truth About Spotify Playlists

by Dj RootsQueen

There are many steps to take before hiring a PR firm to get you on Spotify Playlists.

1. Educating yourself on the very nature of Spotify playlists.

The majority of Spotify is owned by major labels. They dominate what is on the most-followed playlists. It’s not a level playing field for indie artists. According to The Secret Lives of Playlists

“Not all Spotify playlists are created equally… On other playlists, you’ll occasionally notice different logos: the thick cursive word Filtr, the all-caps logo for Topsify, or simple rounded text reading Digster. These are the playlisting brands owned by the major labels: Filtr by Sony, Topsify by Warner, and Digster by Universal. Very rarely you might see an independent label or brand logo. That majors own their own playlisting companies servicing Spotify, and that these major-owned playlists have prominent placement within the platform, should come as no major surprise: Spotify is largely a collaboration with all three major labels. But for me personally, as I itched to learn more about industry insider backdoors to Spotify playlists, learning about Filtr, Digster, and Topsify was illuminating; the beginning of my journey attempting to unpack this mystified world. As it turns out, these privately owned brands barely scratch the surface of what’s at play.”

“Outside of the Spotify staff-curated playlists, those curated by Filtr, Digster and Topsify have more visibility on the Browse pages than any other playlisting brands, individuals or labels. With these playlists, employees of Filtr, Digster and Topsify can simply log in and add tracks… the majors effectively use these playlists to pump their artists into Spotify-owned algorithmic playlists.”

Liz Pelly

The good new is that Spotify has algorithms and rewards artists who spend time on their platform. Spotify built an algorithm that is derived from the footprint of an artist. Start learning how to use it at a pro-level before trying to get on Spotify playlists. 

Remember that it’s not always about playlist placement. How many people follow you and your playlists on Spotify and consistent streams are what’s important. The number of saves a song or album gets is just as important as stream counts and follows. The platform values engagement and interaction with the music or artist over casual consumption.  Some artists perform well and do not have any major playlist placement. It gets into people’s weekly suggestions, they stream it, and it grows on its own organically in the Spotify ecosystem. This is the new music economy.

2. Don’t focus only on Spotify and Spotify playlists.

You have to have a plan in place to build your audience. You must build meaningful engagement in order to succeed on Spotify. An overall marketing plan is needed. This includes:

  • Social Media
  • Brand Tone
  • Public Relations
  • Fanbase Building
  • Live Shows
  • Releases
  • Merchandise

3. Finding your narrative.

Create your signature story with a recognizable brand, tone, and content strategy that fits your narrative and brand archetype on social media. When you buy playlist placements and you skip these steps, you may get a spike in streams, but it falls flat because you are unable to take advantage of the momentum that was created.

4. Social media interaction is key.

Focus on engaging with real fans and build your audience authentically. Fake numbers will work against you when your engagement numbers are low compared to your follower count. Your audience must be built prior to releasing music. The only list that an artist without a fanbase should be worried about is a mailing list.

5. Music Blog and PR is fundamental.

Many Spotify playlists are curated by influential music bloggers. In order to get considered for these playlists, you need to be featured on key music blogs. PR is an essential part of your music strategy. Steps 2-4 must be taken before music bloggers will take you seriously.

6. Building your own playlists.

Start creating and sharing Spotify playlists that include your music. Create playlists of your own music and things you love. Your objectives are to create, reach, and influence streaming. Ask yourself: “What is my unique point of view? Try curating a journey of how you put together playlists. Having a DJ help you do this will create a better result than just putting 20 songs on a playlist.

How to create your own playlist:

  1. Within the Spotify app, click “(+) New Playlist”
  2. Give your playlist a name and description. Be sure to use rich keywords that mention the style of music, specific artists within the playlist, or other organizing principles for the songs contained within.
  3. Upload a custom image for your playlist.
  4. Add a URL to the “insert link” field linking to a pre-order page or music store. (Be considerate and don’t link to a competing streaming service.)
  5. Click “Create.”
  6. Add songs! You can do this by searching for the song on Spotify and dragging it into your playlist in the left-hand sidebar, or by clicking the ellipses next to any track and selecting “Add to Playlist.”.

Playlist best-practices for Spotify:

There are millions of playlists on Spotify. Every user has the ability to create multiple playlists. So understandably, Spotify doesn’t want EVERY single playlist on their platform to be publicly searchable. In order for your playlist to grow as much as possible, you’re going to want to show up in a search on Spotify to ensure your reach extends beyond your existing fanbase. Here’s how to make a search-friendly playlist.

  1. Build playlists around your interests: If you’re enthusiastic about your playlist, you’ll make it awesome. If not, you’ll lose steam and neglect it.
  2. Update your playlists on a regular schedule: To make a playlist that’s worth following, it should be dynamic and change over time. Otherwise a user can just listen once and be done with it. Choose a day to make updates each week and keep it consistent to build expectation among followers.
  3. Seed your own songs: Nestle your song perfectly among a bunch of great tunes by other artists. But remember: just one song per playlist, unless it’s a playlist organized around your music alone.
  4. Playlists should have between 20-60 songs: Spotify’s algorithm favors playlists with more than 20 songs and less than 60. Aim for 25-30 when you first create the list, and then add more songs on a regular basis. Once you’re approaching 60 songs, shuffle the oldest tracks off the list. (You can even create an archive playlist to house all the songs that have been moved off the primary playlist).
  5. Cover artwork: It’s not make-or-break, but seeing one of those default playlist covers with the four smaller images is a little disappointing. You’re curating a musical experience; why not also provide a custom visual that helps listeners enter your world?
  6. Use smart keywords in your description: You should describe your playlist using words, phrases, genre descriptions, and artist names that listeners will be searching for.
  7. Promote your playlists: Share the playlists you create with your fans on social, email, etc. Ask them to follow your playlists, and ask for their suggestions for songs or artists you can add to your playlists in the future. The more followers your playlist has, the more likely it will be served up in a search on Spotify.
  8. Embed your playlist: Spotify also favors playlists that are shared outside of the their platform. Embed the playlist on your own website and ask your fans and friends to do the same. The wider your reach is online, the better you look in the eyes of the Spotify algorithm.

To embed a playlist:

  • Go to the playlist page on Spotify
  • Click on the ellipses
  • Scroll down to “Copy embed code”
  • Paste that code into website

7. Creating an artist page on Spotify.

Yes! You can create your own artist page on Spotify. They will ask you a few questions and then review the information you provide to make sure you are worthy of having an artist account and that you are the person who should be granted access to the account. You want to make sure that steps 2-4 are competed so there is a higher likelihood of approval. This can take a few days, but once you are granted access, Spotify will verify your account and give you a blue check mark on your profile.

Why get verified on Spotify?

Spotify verification is the best way to get taken seriously on the platform. Although it’s still possible to get your music on a playlist without verification, verified artists have a better chance of getting the attention of Spotify’s algorithm and playlist curators.

8. Building a Spotify following.

How many followers do you think you can realistically get on Spotify in a short period of time? What’s your timeline for acquiring those followers? Two weeks? Three months? It’ll be different for every artist, but it’s worth setting a goal for yourself so you’ll know how and when to focus your promotion energies on building that Spotify following, as opposed to any of the other messaging that you need to send about tours, videos, or other platforms. You don’t want different messages competing for your fans’ attention, so setting a goal can help you prioritize.

Ask your fans to follow you on Spotify

The most important thing you can do to get more people to follow your music on Spotify is to ask people to follow your music on Spotify.

  1. Message your fans on social media and ask them to follow you on Spotify: Send them to the Spotify page you created on your website. This page will have everything they need to take action and engage with your music on Spotify, while you still control the experience from YOUR website. Be sure to explain how a “Follow” on Spotify is one of the best ways to show support for the artists they love on that platform. Consider creating a special image just for this purpose (you can use it on your website, Facebook, Twitter, Instagram, as an email header, and more).
  2. Send an email newsletter with a call-to-action asking fans to follow you on Spotify: Again, be sure to tell them why it’s important, and then link them to the Spotify page on your website.
  3. After your performance, tell your fans at shows to get out their phones and follow you on Spotify: If they can show you on their phone that they’ve followed you offer a merch discount.
  4. Consider digital advertising: Facebook, Youtube, and Google ads can attract additional followers. If you run a Facebook ad, they don’t love text on the image! So use an image with no text to have maximum effect when promoted through Facebook.
  5. Encourage followers of your personal profile to also follow and share your artist page on Spotify: Be sure to use the audience you already have to help build your fanbase.

9. The biggest mistake in music marketing.

The #1 mistake in modern music marketing right now is directing listeners to a single track on a a single streaming service. If the user isn’t a premium subscriber of that service, they won’t be able to play your song. So artists should not focus on Spotify alone. Be sure to use sites like Soundcloud, Youtube, and Linkfire to create a landing page so fans can choose what service to listen to your music from.

If you need any help on how to build your brand and distribute your music to all streaming platforms using a distribution service, please email me at djrootsqueen@zaytovenbeatz.com

About the author:

Dj RootsQueen spinning at Fortune Nightclub.
Vancouver, Canada 2018
Dj RootsQueen spinning at Fortune Nightclub.
Vancouver, Canada 2018

Dj RootsQueen is an American dj based out of Atlanta, Ga. Originally from Tampa, Florida, she began spinning when she was 17 years old. She found a niche djing fashion shows, artist showcases, club and industry events which put her in place to Dj for Young Jeezy’s Gourmet brand in 2013. Later that year, She launched her award winning radio show, Rude Girl Radio, on Dj Clue’s Desert Storm Radio.

In 2015, she was signed to Zaytoven and subsequently moved her radio show to his radio station Digital Dope Radio. She is now a Zaytoven’s official tour Dj, having performed at such events as “Red Bull Producer Round Table” with Zaytoven, Sonny Digital, and Metro Boomin and “Piano Night’s” with Gucci Mane and Zaytoven. Dj RootsQueen recently appeared on Team Zaytown Global for the Red Bull Music Culture Clash 2018 and the Maxim Big Game Experience with Diplo, Future, Jaimie Fox, and Yo Gotti for Super Bowl 53.

”With over a decade of experience in the music industry, my specialty is music marketing with a focus on project development. As a professional dj, I have an eye for music trends and discovering new talent. Some of the major artists I have helped develop are YFN Lucci, Future, Usher, Young Dolph, and Zaytoven. I create music advertising launches with successful marketing strategies by planning and preparing advertising and promotional materials to increase the sales of products. I dj and host celebrity album launches, multinational company events, concerts, and festivals. I initiate promotions and create successful social media campaigns surrounding these events and album releases. I have extensive experience producing and programming podcasts, radio shows, and live broadcasts for syndicated and internet radio. I produce and engineer high profile, award winning radio shows with celebrity interviews. What I play at live shows and on air is reported to media base and is tracked via BDS. I discover and cultivate famous music artists through project development, picking hit songs, studio session management, music consultation services, social media marketing, and playlist curation. I understand that everyday, new content is being released to consumers at an exponential rate. My promise is to develop appealing music marketing messages that will attract the attention of your target audience. I will help brands build their fan base using my network and audience in a way that increases brand awareness and product sales, whether it be bookings, merchandise, streams, or album sales. “


To learn more about how I can help you succeed with your brand, please email me at djrootsqueen@zaytovenbeatz.com