The Power of Digital Music Playlists

 In Artist Management

The Power of Digital Music Playlists

What’s popping? Miss me? I know its been a minute since my last newsletter but I’ve been busy doing a lot of deals and one of the main reasons why is because of the increase in music streaming. Streaming revenues have increased the major record labels’ bottom line and luckily for music attorneys like me, these labels are signing artists with substantial streams to record deals. As a result, I thought an article on getting your music on popular digital music playlists would be super helpful.

As of 2016, digital streaming has rapidly overtaken downloads and physical CD sales as the primary way fans consume music. Today “playlisting” is one of the most vital aspects of an artist’s content release strategy. Songs on a curated playlist on streaming platforms like “Spotify” and “Apple Music” are grouped together to attract specific audiences. With these platforms boasting zillions of subscribers, many playlists generate millions of streams on a weekly basis.

If you own both the rights to your master recordings and the publishing rights to your songs, you will find that these platforms are currently amongst the biggest drivers of song engagement. Placement on a popular playlist on either of these platforms can take your music and career, as Drake would say, “from 0 to 100 n**** real quick!”

Below are some steps and tips that can land your music a spot on a popular playlist.

Phase One: Getting on the Platform

If you are signed to a major record label, your music is already on its way to being listed or placed on Spotify, Apple Music, Google Play Music, etc. But if you’re an independent artist, digital music aggregators such as TuneCore, CD Baby, and Record Union offer to upload your music to these platforms for a small fee or percentage. In addition, these companies handle the licensing and distribution of your music and pay you royalties when fans stream your music. Through these aggregators, you’re free to add your music to as many platforms as you like. In fact, the more platforms your music is featured on, the better your chances to be heard by fans, record labels, digital music aggregators, and even music supervisors. Also keep in mind that distribution agreements with digital music aggregators like TuneCore and CD Baby are nonexclusive, therefore you are free to cancel or switch your membership at any time.

Phase Two: Get Verified

Now that your music is on various platforms, the next step is to have your account verified. Much like Instagram and Twitter, a blue verification check mark boosts your credibility and will help get you one-step closer to “blowing up.” Of course, it is possible to get your music onto playlists without being a verified artist, however, in-house curators are much more likely to feature artists who are verified and have established a following on the platform.


To get verified on Spotify, you’ll first need to get access to “Spotify for Artists.” Once you have access to Spotify for Artists, you’re automatically verified on Spotify. With Spotify for Artists, you have access to statistics about everything from who’s discovering your music to which of your songs are trending on Spotify. You can also update your artist profile image anytime you want, post artist playlists to your profile, and make an artist’s pick which appears at the top of your profile.

Apple Music uses a similar verification process through “Apple Music Connect.” To use Connect, you must first have your music on Apple Music. From here, the next step is to verify your artist profile:

  1. Sign into Apple Music with your Apple ID and password.
  2. Request to manage an Apple Music artist account.
  3. Search for your artist or band name.
  4. Choose your role (either artist, manager, label rep, etc.).

After you’ve completed the above steps, Apple will review your request. Once the wait is over and your account is approved, Connect allows you to directly connect with fans, share media content, and access your stats.

*Tip* “Ask and You Shall Receive!”

Get as many of your fans as possible to follow you on their preferred streaming platform! Don’t be afraid to ask your fans to follow you on these platforms. The more obvious it is that you have fans and a solid following, the more obvious the benefit will be to curators when they consider featuring one of your songs on their playlist.

Phase Three: Build Your Playlist Resume

Now that you’re a verified artist and have built a following, it is time to begin pursuing smaller playlist opportunities. This is perhaps one of the most important steps for an emerging artist. The more your content pops up on smaller playlists, the more likely in-house curators will notice you. Begin this process by searching, following, interacting and reaching out to as many playlists that fit your sound and genre as possible.

There are five primary types of playlists to be aware of:

  • Personal Playlists: You create them, you promote them, and you feature them on your page.
  • Other Peoples’ Playlists (“O.P.P.” – “Get down with O.P.P!” for all you old school hip-hop heads reading this LOL): These could be playlists run by any of the platform’s millions of users, including other artists, bloggers, record labels, or fans.
  • Shared Playlists: Spotify offers a user-friendly option that allows users to create a shared playlist where any follower of the playlist can alter the list, add or delete songs, change the song order, etc. Although Apple Music does not directly offer this option, with apps like SoundShare, you can create playlists, see what your friends are listening to, and comment on their activity.
  • Curated Playlists: These are playlists where the music is selected by in-house experts and influential publications. These playlists are an independent artist’s ultimate goal! They highlight the week’s best music; emerging artists that users should listen to; and are usually very heavily promoted within the platform. If your music reacts and your streaming numbers increase, it will definitely grab the attention of major record labels!

*Tip* “Engage! Engage! Engage!”

Leave comments, compliment, and share playlists (yours and others) on social media. Show the playlist curators that you’re knowledgeable about their music choice(s).

Phase Four: Shoot Your Shot!

Now that you’ve laid your foundation and have established connections with smaller playlists, it’s time to reach out to the curated playlist creators. No matter your genre, once you’ve expressed interest in and knowledge about that playlist’s genre of music, write to the curator and politely (and briefly) suggest one of your songs that’d be perfect for their playlist. Be as specific as possible and include the genre, theme, topic, instrumentation, and/or something noteworthy about your music career. Keep in mind that the top curators are likely very busy people so understand that the decision of whether to check out your music or delete your message can all take place in a matter of seconds, so choose your best song to pitch.

*Tip* “If at first you don’t succeed, dust yourself off and try again!”

If a curator decides not to add your song, don’t unfollow them or give up on the playlist. Be “politely persistent!” Keep working because your next song could very much be the one! If they do decide to add your song, show your appreciation. Share the playlist with everyone you know, your mom and pops, your friends, and all of your social media buddies. Not only are you paid for each stream through your distributor but you will also generate publishing revenue in the form of mechanical and performance royalties for your music.

*Tip* Don’t be a stranger!”

Stay in touch and make sure to engage with the curator each time you release a new track or more content. Work towards building genuine relationships, invite them to your shows whenever you’re in their town, ask for feedback on new material, etc.



Research Contributor: Septembra LeSane

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  • Jazz

    This is awesome!

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