Every morning I sit down to my computer, ready to tackle a full day of to-dos, and you know what I do before anything else? Before I even make my morning caffeinated beverage? I turn on my favorite Spotify playlist.
And you know what I do when that one ends? I turn to my other go-to. And that’s it.
I have about three playlists I rotate through, with only two of them being guaranteed daily listens (one of which I made myself and is literally just my three favorite bands) and that’s it. I do not actively seek out new music unless it is pretty much placed in front of me by someone I trust, the algorithm I can’t control, or some other divine force.
Why am I telling you this?
Because as much as your music might be exactly what I need to hear today, if I don’t even know it exists and there’s no method in place to do that, I’m not hearing it—and neither are most other people.
This is why simply releasing music into the world and hoping the world will do the work for you is not really a viable option. But, you know that; that’s why you’re here!
So if you’re wanting to make sure your next single gets heard and you know the way to do that is through a playlist, here are some creative ways to do it.
Create your own playlists
One of the most foolproof ways to get on a playlist is to simply create it yourself. Now, I don’t want to make this seem like you just slap together a playlist and call it a day, but if you’re a fairly new artist and you’re not having any luck submitting to existing playlists, this is a great way to take things into your own hands.
There are a few ways you can really help yourself stand out.
The first is to use the relationships you already have with existing artists and collaborate with them. If you can put 20 other artists on there that you know will share your playlist regularly, and with some friendly words to say about it (bonus points if they have a decent following), that’ll start you off nicely. The more people share your playlist, the bigger your audience will be.
And the more people you have on that playlist with an existing audience, the higher visibility your playlist will get. But that can also be a double-edged sword, since artists with bigger audiences tend to be on more playlists; hence, competition.
Another thing you want to do to help increase visibility is to create some kind of theme. It can be centered around a mood (workout, party, studying), or a certain instrument, or songs about movies or cities—as long as it all somehow ties together.
And you want it to be searchable. Don’t get cutesy with your titles. When I want to listen to music from Finland I type in “indie music from Finland,” not something ultra quippy but not SEO friendly.
Then, create a compelling cover art (as you’d do with your own music) and be sure to update your playlist regularly with new music (once a week is fine), asking the artists on it to continue sharing. You might have to remind them, that’s okay. Just get it out there, get the streams coming in organically, and the algorithm will do the rest.
They allow you to show your personality
Have fun with this! If a huge part of your image is being party animals, put together a party playlist that you’d be down to jam to and then start making Reels or TikToks to your own music to promote the band’s image!
Not to mention, you can think outside the box here and do things that are completely unique to you and your brand, while standing out. For instance, you can premiere a song on your playlist so that fans will naturally go to listen to the song on that playlist, and discover other similar artists. Or you can hide little easter eggs like b-sides or acoustics that have never been publicly announced or shared.
You could partner with a local coffee shop to make a playlist for them that they’ll play in their cafe. The goal is just to do something to stand out and grab the attention of fans, both future and present.
Grab the listener’s attention straight away
People LOVE playlists. So you have that going for you—you just have to show them why yours is worth listening to and odds are they'll give it a try.
Now, there are a few ways to grab their attention straight away. For instance, make your first song something that’s well known and catchy. Then, make sure the next 5 to 10 songs are all recognizable and catchy as well.
You want to get people excited and keep them listening and that all starts with the hook. Later in the playlist is where you can show your true colors.
Playlists are a gateway to collaborations and partnerships
So far we’ve been talking about the benefits of playlisting for your music reaching new ears right away, but we haven’t covered something equally as important which is the long game. Playlists can be a very strong way to build relationships with other artists, businesses, and industry professionals.
Sure, in the short term the more streams you get the better but think about the opportunities that the right partnerships (with artists, labels, spaces, and brands) can have and how using a playlist can get you there. For instance, offering to work with a business to create a curated playlist specifically for them and their community (that just happens to feature your music on it).
Not to mention the leverage of a playlist that’s performing well. Think about it. As your playlist gains traction, opportunity and visibility will increase with it. It will start to open doors to bigger collaborations, and more introductions and opportunities—all because you put the time into growing this playlist for someone else.
Playlists are a powerful tool. Whether you’re building one to gain a few new fans or cultivate industry partnerships that can help your band take off, your fans are in for a treat. I can’t wait to listen!
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Angela Mastrogiacomo is the founder and CEO of Muddy Paw PR, where her artists have seen placements on Alternative Press, Noisey, Substream, Spotify and more as well as the THRIVE mentorship community—an online community that provides indie artists with affordable year-round mentoring from music industry experts, and much more. She loves baked goods, a good book, and hanging with her dog Sawyer.
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