Playlists have become the holy grail of artist placement. While there’s still a ton of value in everything from blog placements to radio to TV, there’s no doubt that right now playlists are just about the #1 thing on most artists’ minds. With artists’ careers seemingly changing overnight with inclusion on just the right playlist, it’s really no wonder that it’s become so desirable. But how do you actually get that coveted playlist spot? How can you increase your chances of being picked for a specific playlist?
Be open to smaller playlists
Most artists will recognize that there are a wealth of playlists out there, many curated by blogs, radio stations, influencers, and the like, and it’s important to recognize that while some are inevitably larger than others with more eyes (and ears!) on them, that’s no reason to discount the smaller ones. In fact, for a musician that’s still growing their fanbase, those smaller playlists are almost certainly going to be the best fit.
Think about it for a second. If you’re still growing your career and fanbase, it might be tempting to want to get on a huge playlist so you can instantly get in front of tons of new fans, feel that surge of validation, and in theory, skip all the difficult parts of building your career and just start getting attention. The only problem with that? It’s not how it works.
Now I’m not saying that as a growing artist you can’t or won’t get a major placement—it does happen and it can be career changing. But even if you get that larger placement (and that’s a big if) you’re not necessarily standing out or getting the same individual attention that you might had it been on a smaller playlist, with a diehard fan base for that specific blog/influencer. Try to remember that having a lot of ears on a playlist doesn’t always mean a lot of ears on you.
Also, on the topic of smaller playlists there is a lot of value in racking up song plays on them. It’ll serve you in the long run, especially if your goal is to get on larger playlists, to not only be on a lot of smaller ones and show that there truly is an interest in your music, but those smaller playlist spins will add up, and the higher your stream number, the more likely you are to attract more eyes, and opportunities.
Make your own
If you’re having trouble getting on someone else’s playlist, or even if you just want a creative way to build relationships, start your own! It’s an excellent way to build up your network and forge connections, while getting more song plays and learning about the industry and the dynamics of playlist creation, curation, and promotion.
You can make the playlist anything you want, or even make multiple ones. It’s also totally ok to come up with an idea around the song you want to promote. For instance, if it’s a wicked summer jam then create a summer playlist and add in other local bands you either already have a relationship with, or want to forge one with, and be sure to send it to them and ask them to kindly share it around.
Or, you can get a lot more niche, which can actually really increase your chances of getting your song seen. For instance if your song mentions your home city of Detroit, you could make a playlist that features only songs that mention Detroit, or Michigan, or songs that mention cities.
Get creative and have fun with this—it’s a great gateway to bigger opportunities, and in the meantime, you’re creating SO many valuable connections.
Go outside the industry
Being so immersed in the music industry can mean it’s easy to forget that there are people who actually exist outside of it—and they’re making playlists too. It’s awesome to get on music industry specific playlists, but don’t forget to also think about the thousands of playlists that exist outside of that, that are run by authors or activists or bloggers in other niches, or just regular people who happen to love a very specific kind of music. Think about all the niche things your song relates to (if it mentions a city or product or the theme of it or the genre etc—just like you’d think of all this if you were looking to license it) and look for playlists that cater to that. A quick look around the platforms should inspire a few ideas.
Since there’s no specific benchmark to getting verified on streaming platforms, there’s really no reason not to do it. Doing so will mean you’re taken a lot more seriously, and it also opens new opportunities for connection.
Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.