Now that radio is increasingly dying and we are having a harder time than ever executing within that framework we need to start reevaluating where the common person is going to discover new music. Sure radio is, and will remain a significant format for years to come. There are millions of Americans who look forward to drive time radio every day and who revel in all that it represents for them. I don’t want to diminish that, but I do wan to turn and focus on the future and that future is playlists. This is where people are increasingly going to get the music they want. For a small monthly fee, or even free on some platforms more and more Americans are just plugging their phone straight into their car with an aux cable, BlueTooth or whatever and listening to the kind of music they want to listen too with minimal breaks or interruptions. Since most Americans still do most of their listening in the car we need to look at what this all means for you.



The thing is, with Spotify playlists your band who have all of their songs capped around a few thousand hits can suddenly get to a point where you have a song with tens of thousands of plays. Not only does this help you to make a little bit more money and get you more exposure but it also makes you look like a badass. The perception of being an artist with 100,000 plays on a single, as many artists who get featured in the hip playlists do, is crucial because it suggests to people that you had a major hit and is going to make them curious to dig into the rest of what you have to offer. Sure that requires conversions from the actual playlist to your artist page, but nevertheless imagine what could happen even if you had a mere 1% conversion rate. A thousand people would go from hearing your song to checking out your page, then if your music is truly good getting them to want to see you live and buy your stuff is just another fairly straightforward leap.

Of course the real struggle is getting placed on these playlists.

If everyone could access them then they probably wouldn’t be as listened too and not as many people would really want to delve into the world they represent. On top of that you have the issue that it’s ridiculously hard to contact a lot of the people who run streaming service playlists. I’ve heard rumors that the folks who curate at Apple Music and Spotify are all getting thousands of emails a minute. I don’t even know how they process all of that! We all know that one of the biggest issues facing musicians in the modern age is all of the noise around their art and the fact that there is just so much stuff out there, so how do you even start to approach the people who get all of the music? Never before has so much of the worlds music listening been controlled by so few people. It’s a weird time and something we all need to step back from to properly understand.

As far as I can tell the best way to hit these mega influencers is almost always going to be through your labels distributor. Now of course, if you don’t have a label or a distributor you might just be screwed. While it’s certainly possible that your track, as a solo artist, will gain enough traction to get the attention you need to get on a playlist that requires these extremely busy people to have your single break through all of the noise out there. This is a pretty goddamn intense task and one that I don’t think you can realistically expect to accomplish. Other times though your track can get picked up because an algorithm tossed it on a mid sized playlist and that ended up catching the attention of someone in power. Algorithms add a measure of randomness to the game which makes it interesting, but even they rely on a few key factors. The point being – you can’t rely on luck, you need to try and find as many direct or indirect connections to playlist makers as possible.



When it comes down to it, what matters more than anything is having new music that can be pitched. I don’t even bother pitching reissues to my friends who do playlists at Spotify and Apple Music because I want to preserve my valuable relationships with them. Furthermore, I know that I am more likely to bend over backwards for bands who will politely reach out and ask me what they can do to make things work. Beyond having new music they also need to have Spotify or Apple Music exclusive content. The more drivers you can find (like tagging streaming services in your advertisements) the more you’re going to be prioritized in the eyes of the people who have the potential to make your song a hit. You need to look at all of their reasons for not wanting to list you and then counteract them, help them make it easy, even if you know that you can’t deal with them directly, making the entire thing so much trickier.

Getting on these playlists is an extremely challenging thing and a lot of people are going to tell you that making it happen is pretty much impossible. In many ways it is, playlists are like radio, they are built around what people like to listen too and what’s already popular. It creates the same recursive feedback loop that has made radio so challenging for so long. Don’t get any high falutin’ thoughts, but also realize that if you want to start getting these placements and pushing for something greater then accessing playlists on streaming services is going to be necessary in order to guide this whole messed up industry forward.










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