How To Get Followers On Spotify My Way

Todd McCartyMusic28 Comments

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How To Get Followers On Spotify In 2021

Recently, music streaming officially surpassed MP3 revenue and streaming is now king. My readers frequently ask me how to get followers on Spotify and how to get on Spotify playlists? What follows is the approach that I use for promoting music on Spotify and my best tips. I’ve been doing music sales for record labels and artists for 15 years, and it has been my responsibility to get placement on Spotify, Apple Music, Amazon, and others. I’ve taken notice of how artists are promoting on Spotify and if you do what is mentioned in this post, you’ll be way ahead of other bands and musicians.

What Are The Goals Of Spotify Promotion?

It’s important to know specifically what I am trying to achieve when I formulate a plan for artists, tracks, or albums. My overall goal is to get in the Spotify Viral Chart which is open to artists of all sizes. There is the Global Viral 50 chart  and each country has their own. Next, I want to always serve the algorithm. Spotify uses a mix of human curation and a computer generated algorithm to suggest music that users might like.

The algorithm is a complex math equation that attempts to guess your interest, tastes, and emotions based on information it knows about a listener. It tracks what you listen to, what you search, like, share, follow, etc. I make no claims to know exactly how this algorithm works, and it is constantly changing. Only the folks at Spotify truly know how it works. I’ve learned from close observation, Spotify presentations, and academic studies.

Finally, and most importantly, I want to get the music in users collections.


  • Get in the Spotify Viral Charts
  • Serve the algorithm
  • Get in users collections
  • Get on curated playlists

Spotify Is Your Record Collection

Visualize a stack of vinyl records on a shelf. Think of this record collection. I want to get your music into as many virtual collections on Spotify as possible. Because once it’s there, it’s always there. The collection on Spotify is called “Your Music” and it can be found on the left navigation bar (see image below). You want listeners to come back to their collection time and time again. You also want them to follow (or “heart”) you and put a track in a mix/playlist. Most plays are coming from users collections, not Spotify curated playlists. So collections surpass playlists as a goal.

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Familiarize Yourself With Your Artist Page

Whenever you are doing promotion on Spotify, I recommend you use the desktop app on your laptop or computer. Don’t use the browser version or mobile version. You don’t get all the features needed on the mobile app or browser-based version of Spotify.

Notice the check marks to the left of certain Head North song titles on the image below. I clicked the + mark and added them to my collection. When you click those, it automatically puts it in your “Songs” collection, “Artists” collection, “Recently Played”, and tells the algorithm I want to hear more music from this artist. So on release date, the single for Head North will almost surely show up in my “Your Daily Mix” playlist. It will also show up in my “Discover Weekly” and “Release Radar” playlist which can be found by clicking “Made For You” on the left side menu.

If you look through this “Made For You” section you will see all the other recommendations the algorithm is making for you. This is even more pronounced on the mobile version of Spotify.

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Playlists Are Not a Plan

Most artists and labels put 95% of their focus on getting their tracks on playlists. This is where they fall short. I’ll repeat what I mentioned above. Most streams are coming from users collections and the algorithm. It’s true, a lot of music found in a users collection was discovered in a playlist, but it’s less than half.

You also need a balanced plan that includes showing Spotify you are popular (outside of Spotify). So coverage in media, blogs, YouTube, etc. You want a complete plan that goes beyond the playlist. However I do have tips for getting on Spotify playlists.

Like what you’re learning so far? I teach my full Spotify marketing strategy inside Band Builder Academy. You’ll never have to pay for playlists again. CLICK HERE to Learn More.

What Else Do You Suggest We Focus On?

Think about how fans use Spotify and engage with music on Spotify. Put yourself in their shoes. They don’t always start in Spotify either. So you have to reach them “off platform” too. Once they are “on” Spotify, think about their collection, and how you can work your way into it. Getting in somebody’s personal collection for life is the ultimate goal. All the work you do now, will pay off for years to come, not just a quick blitz.

  • Create a Track Development Plan  (I’ve made one available for download here)
  • Simply ask fans to add your music to their collection by hitting the “+” mark next to the track or dragging it into one of their playlists. This works best on a Facebook Live chat, or with street teams.
  • Ask fans to hit the “Follow” or “Heart” button below your artist name on your profile page. Desktop app users “Heart” and mobile users “Follow” (this featured changed in June 2018).
  • Have your fans “Share” your music from Spotify on social media by using the “… more” button that appears when you roll over a track. I have to believe this really factors into the algorithm for the Viral charts.
  • Use contests and incentives to get more participation.
  • Countdowns, Share for a Track promotions, Make Playlists
  • Advertise, free and paid.
  • Use Spotify For Artists to get data and track progress. Link here

Spotify Has Put Everything Out There For You Already.

Take advice directly from the source. Spotify have gone into great detail on how artists can and should utilize the service. It’s totally worth spending several hours searching around the Spotify website artist section. Get access to your stats through Spotify For Artists. Check out their Guide, FAQs, and best practices. Spotify has done much more than other large music services to educate and build a relationship with artists. Think about that. These are real people with a passion for music. Get to know them, and build a relationship with them. Your Spotify business is only as good as your relationship with them.

OK, So How Do We Get Followers On Spotify and Increase Our Streams?

Above, I briefly mentioned various activities other than playlists that I include in my Spotify marketing plans. Let’s get into the details. Here are some best practices that I use:

Track Development Plans

Spotify is heavily focused on tracks, not albums. Most artists have an album marketing plan, but a track development plan is equally essential. Once a track is in a users collection, the algorithm will recognize it and serve more tracks from the artist. So build an entire plan around your track. That includes advertising. Sounds crazy right? It’s not. A large portion of my advertising dollars have been pointed at track streams and track downloads. I still recommend advertising albums and album pre-orders, but increasingly the emphasis is on the focus track. Buy Facebook and Instagram advertising to boost your Spotify track streams. I teach this strategy inside Band Builder Academy. There is much more to it than advertising.

With this in mind, I created a PDF with the Track Development Plan that I personally developed and use. Click Here to get your free download.

Get More Monthly Listeners

The statistic listed in the top right of your artist page “Monthly Listeners” is a metric that measures your popularity over a rolling 28 days. The number changes every day based on the last 28 day period, and the listeners don’t accumulate. If you have Spotify For Artists, you can also see your daily and weekly listeners, but the public can’t. Industry A&R look at your monthly listeners and plays.

I’ll clarify listeners versus plays. Listeners are different people listening to your tracks, and plays are how many times your tracks are actually played and they accumulate. Play accumulate, listeners do not.  I recommend you track your monthly listeners like you track social media followers, track sales, and total streams.

Get More Traffic

Traffic and engagement is a great way to positively affect the algorithm. Think about traffic as anybody searching for something and being directed over to Spotify. Most fans use the search engines below to learn more about your band. Make sure to have an easy to find link to Spotify in all of these places when a potential fan encounters them.

  • Google search results (top 5 results)
  • Artist website traffic
  • Facebook
  • Instagram
  • TikTok
  • YouTube
  • Twitter

Tips on Playlisting

Since playlists are at least half the plan, make sure to use the right approach. The Spotify editorial team is 100% responsible for determining which music is playlisted on their official playlists and algorithm based playlists (Discover Weekly, Release Radar, etc.).

User playlists can be created by you (the artist), or you can contact the creator of a user playlist and pitch your song for inclusion. It’s up to you to utilize Spotify like a search engine and discover which user playlists best fit your music and have enough followers to justify your time tracking them down.


Three Types of Playlists

  • Official Spotify curated playlists
  • Algorithmically curated playlists
  • User Playlists (or “Listener” playlists)

Tip On Reaching Out To Playlist Curators

If you reach out to Spotify or another playlist curator keep it simple. “Hello, thanks for taking a few minutes to check out our track”. Don’t be long winded. Keep it less than 200 words. Call attention to the moods and genres of the song, and a couple big talking points for your group (the biggest achievements to date).

In case you haven’t heard yet, you can submit your music for official Spotify playlists direct. Spotify has the “Upcoming” feature of Spotify For Artists where artists, artist managers, and labels can now submit one“unreleased” track to Spotify directly through the Spotify For Artists portal. Here is the official release from Spotify.

If a curator reaches out to you and asks for more information, then you can talk up your band all you want because now they’re interested. Unless they give you options, don’t suggest which specific playlist you want your music on. Understand that the curators do this for a living and they pride themselves on being knowledgeable about music genres. By telling them where you think it should be placed can come off as an insult. They know what to do with your track.

Where Else Can I Playlist My Tracks?

  • Blogs / Magazines / Newspapers
  • Social Influencers
  • YouTube Vloggers
  • Use the Spotify search bar for keywords like “metalcore, emo, pop punk, metal”
  • Look at Spotify Artist pages on the “About” tab. Scroll to find “Discovered On”
  • Reddit
  • Friends & Other Artists (trade)
  • Do Not use Spotify Playlist Promotion Services – They only get you skips, and negatively affect your algorithm profile on Spotify. In January 2021 Spotify started removing songs from their service that used artificial streaming methods. If you break their terms of service, don’t be surprised when your music is taken off the platform.

Social Sharing, Contests, and Calls to Action

Use Facebook Live to ask all your fans to add your music to their collection real time. While you’re at it you could ask them to “Follow” or “Heart” your profile, and then “Share” your focus track on social media. Social media will be your best bet for affecting the viral algorithm. And that algorithm is what get’s Spotify curators attention, and potentially unlock the coveted Spotify curated playlists with hundreds of thousands of listeners. Come up with other creative ways to promote through social media.

Tip: About Artist Created Playlists

If you don’t have a playlist on your artist page already, make one now. Create a few artist playlists (learn how here). However, my tip is to focus on one playlist and push that playlist through social media. You can always rename and re-theme the playlist and keep your followers. Each time you have a new track you can work it into your playlist, and your followers will get a notification when you update it. I challenge you to come up with your own creative ways to playlist music.

Influencers and Press

Some influencers and media outlets use Spotify as their main playlisting tool. So seek those out, and make them aware of your music for consideration in their playlist. When an artist is being featured in a magazine or blog, I’ll ask if they want the artist to create a Spotify playlist that accompanies a press feature. Include a couple of your tracks amongst the others in the playlist you create. Don’t make them all your tracks.

What I’ve Learned About Spotify Over The Past 14 Years

That’s right, Spotify has been around for 14 years. They launched April 23rd, 2006. It’s become a powerful search engine for discovering and interacting with music. Here are some things I’ve learned so far.


Spotify isn’t something your band or label should dabble in occasionally. The algorithm rewards frequency of use, engagement, and refreshing the content in playlists and collections. You can’t get lazy and take a month off. I’ve been lost in the work week and forgot to update a playlist, or add new music to my collection. Discipline yourself and schedule it into your workload.  

Don’t mistake “frequency” for “release a track every week”, or even every month. Be strategic about your track releases. I discuss How Often You Should Release Music on this blog post.

Also, Spotify rewards quality and tracks that their users “love” much more than they reward frequency. So don’t get carried away.


I sit down and brainstorm creative ways to engage with the platform. Always put yourself in the shoes of the listener. I use mind mapping sessions to come up with ideas. Mind mapping has been the best thing for my creativity. I even use them when creating my blog posts. Learn more here


It feels great after putting time into pitching tracks for playlists, or working hard at my track development plan. But it’s frustrating when no playlists materialize, engagement is low, and it can feel like all your work went unnoticed. You have to remember that an algorithm is in play, and it doesn’t work instantly. The algorithm takes several weeks to collect and gather data and to form conclusions about a track. Unless you are calling out from stage for your fans to take action, you can’t get them all to interact right away. It takes time for word to spread and people to catch on.


Stay on it daily and weekly until you feel you’ve exhausted all possibilities for a track to catch on. I find myself wanting to judge a track or draw conclusions in the first couple weeks. Often times a track can take on a life of its own, usually from uncontrolled sources. An influencer or fan will talk about the track passionately in some corner of the internet. I’ve witnessed an artist work hard for 18 months, give up, go back to working jobs, only to have their tracks catch fire on Spotify after 3 years. The key is sticking with it, even if it’s going slow.


I hope that you’ve learned a few things that you didn’t already know. Spotify is drastically different from transactional sales accounts, and it can’t be viewed through the lens of an Amazon, brick and mortar retailer, or YouTube. The platform is constantly changing and you need to keep up with it. Try new things. Team up with your band mates and focus on a track development plan. We need to constantly visualize listeners discovering and putting music in their record collections.

Leave comments with your feedback.  And please do me a little favor and share this post with others, for there’s a good chance that it will help them with their band.

Like what you’ve learned here?  I teach my full Spotify marketing strategy inside Band Builder Academy. You’ll never have to pay for a playlist again. CLICK HERE to Join Today.

Todd McCarty

28 Comments on “How To Get Followers On Spotify My Way”

  1. Hi Todd,

    As someone who has recently released music on Spotify, I learned a lot from this article. I appreciate you sharing your expertise and I’ll share with others who are looking to establish their presence on the platform.

    The one thing that I’d love to have more insight on is how to professionally reach out to playlist curators. You provided some great advice in the article, but it seems like a nuanced activity with quite a few considerations. I’ve been successful a number of times requesting to be added, but in other cases, I feel like I’m spamming.

    Thanks again!

    1. Thanks for the comment Ian. I’m sure others are wondering the same thing. This article was published in July 2017. I am working on a follow up with fresh new insights for Heat On The Street readers. I will include more detailed advice there. For now, don’t worry about spamming. If you don’t ask, you’ll never get. Keep it short. Let them know you enjoy and subscribe to their playlist, please consider your song with a URL link. Make sure your track is a great fit, and call out other artists they have playlisted that sound similar to you. Thank them for their consideration, and that’s it. short and sweet. Let them know “P.S. if added we’re happy to share with our XXXX amount of social media followers”.

  2. Very good article. I learned a lot and look forward to using this advice and plans in promoting my artists.

    Thanks Todd.

    1. Monthly listeners is on a rolling 28 day basis. So you lost 300 listeners on that 29th day that fell off.
      The number changes every day based on the last 28 day period, and the listeners don’t accumulate. Plays accumulate, but monthly listeners do not. Hope that helps.
      I explain this above in detail under the subheading GET MORE MONTHLY LISTENERS. Thanks for you comment

  3. Very useful information. Hopefully getting curators to listen to your music will be way easier in the future. I guess anything could flourish with patience and persistence, and that’s what we have to stick to right now. Thanks!

  4. This is a great article,thank you.
    My question is – how do you figure out who the curators are in order to email them?
    I see ‘curated by’, but how would I find their individual email address or contact info?

    Thank you

    1. It’s tedious and time consuming to track the curators down, but you just have to put the work in. Some tips: Many of them put a submission form right in the description of the playlist. Some put email addresses in there too. Look at their username on Spotify, then search that same name on Facebook and Twitter. Reach out that way. Google their name or search it on other sites (FB, TW, IG, LinkedIn). With enough digging you can track people down. When you reach out, be respectful, keep it short, and make sure to actually listen and subscribe to their playlist. Make it a genuine effort and if they support you, back them up with social media posts to help spread awareness of their playlist.

  5. Thanks for this article. Spotify has always been a mystery to me; mostly because I’m busy making the music. I’m putting your suggestions to work and now have set aside daily listening and creative maintenance. Thanks again.

  6. Todd,
    I enjoyed your article and did learn a few things I didn’t already know, especially about how saves work. Thank you!

    In your experience, have you seen noticeable differences in the compounding effect of consecutive releases with respect to the algorithms? For instance, releasing a 4-song EP once every 4 months vs. 4 singles per month for 4 months vs. 4 weekly singles for 4 weeks, etc? On one hand, I’m sure the data accumulated over a longer timeframe would have its advantages, but I wonder what the sweet spot might be.


    1. Here’s (hopefully) a better way to clarify what I’m asking: Say an artist wanted to release 12 new tracks (all good stuff, no filler). In your experience, have you noticed any difference in how the examples below might affect the algorithms differently, in particular for Discover Weekly / Release Radar playlists?

      1 full album of 12 songs

      3 EP’s of 4 songs, released a few months apart

      1 single song per month for 12 months

      1 single song per week for 12 weeks

      …or any other variations

      I’ve made some observations of the trends for my own releases, but my stats are very limited so far.

      Thanks again

      1. Hi Stephen, To answer your question I want to point you to another article I wrote called “Singles Vs Albums” It will answer your questions. Furthermore, I never recommend releasing 1 song per/week. You’ll never get the benefit of the algorithm. It takes weeks for algorithms to fully complete their cycle. I don’t recommend a single a month either. It’s just not a long enough time. I believe in track development plans and having advertising, contests, video, synch, some form of radio, and PR behind each track. Also focusing on a track for at least 2 or 3 months. I’ve seen no examples of success with short term campaigns. Nor do I think it’s the way most consumers want to experience music.

        1. Thanks Todd, I appreciate your insight. I read the other article as well. My current situation is a bit unique, my music is singer-songwriter genre and I’m in the process of re-releasing my back catalog (7 albums + 2 EP’s) and rather than just dump it all in there at one time and say “here’s all the old stuff” I elected to release 1 project per month until I get caught up on the old, so I can then move forward with the new.

          In this process I’m just trying to gain a better understanding of how the algorithms work, if nothing else to help me strategize new releases in the future. Also I’m a nobody indie artist with little funds for advertising, radio (ha!) and PR for each album or track right now, so it’s all pretty much in the can for the time being. Your track development plan looks good though, I’m just having trouble seeing my music fit into that outline.

  7. Hi Todd, you wrote that “Most streams are coming from users collections.”
    This was a surprise for me because in my experience and stats exactly the opposite happens.
    I cannot share here a screenshot but let’s see my Spotify stats for today, 10.10.2018

    Sources of streams

    Your Profile & Catalog: 4%
    Their Own Playlists & Library: 6%
    Other Listener’s Playlists: 70%
    Our Personalized Playlists: 9%
    Our Editorial Playlists: 0% (sigh)
    Other: 11%

    And these figures are consistent since 2016.
    So what is happening? The amount of strems from “other listener’s playlists” It is ten times larger than “their own playlists and library”.

    Don’t get me wrong. I am not negatively critisizing your statement. I am only wondering … am I perhaps missing something fundamental in my current strategy?

    Tangentially, I wonder what is “other”. SInce this is 11%, it would be important (vital) to find out with more detail. Maybe embedded widgets here and there? Where, concretely, is “here and there”? Some idea?


    1. Thanks for your comment – I think it may help other readers, and further illustrate my point. Most streams on Spotify are coming from “user collections”. That could be songs they favorited, saved, or put into a playlist (in their collection). In your case 80% of streams are NOT coming from Spotify editorial playlists or Spotify algorithm based “personalized” playlists. 76% of your plays are from users (6 % – Their Own Playlists & Library, and 70% Other Listener’s (users) Playlists). So you’re not missing anything, and are not different from most artists. One thing I’ll add is that it’s important to have a “balanced” approach. Don’t lean your strategy too heavy on Spotify. Spotify doesn’t want to be “alone” on promoting an artist. If media is talking about it, or Spotify are getting traffic from social media, Wikipedia, or Google search (or Spotify’s own search bar), that proves an artist has outside drivers.

  8. Hi, very valuable information appreciate that. You mentioned that you should be persistent with the releases of your releases. I’m currently releasing a song every 2 weeks. For me, personally, it works great because I keep up the workflow increase my overall quality with each song. What is flip side of that marketing strategy, releasing a song every 2 weeks?

    1. It takes a high level of understanding of the algorithm to fully grasp the downside of the “every 2 week” strategy. But here is some quick thoughts. The process for the algorithm to rate a song (and gauge popularity) is longer than 2 weeks. That’s not a fact, but having observed the algorithm over many years, it’s what I believe. Let’s say track A is a priority. You have a music video for it, and you put more budget and attention into this track. After a week or two you can tell that fans and the algorithm are liking Track A – because you’ve received a lot of algorithm playlists, and your save to stream ratio is high. From this point, and then for the next several weeks (maybe 12 weeks) the algorithm rewards the track with more algorithm play. The algorithm is showing this high performing song to very targeted users who it assumes will like it. If you put Track B right behind it, and then Track C and D in the following weeks, I believe the algorithm will pause what it’s doing with the high performing track. It will analyze the brand new track you put out, and decide whether it’s going to shift some of that algorithm support away from your focus track and onto these new “untested” tracks (B, C, D). I wouldn’t want that. If one of my very important focus songs has momentum in the algorithm, I wouldn’t want a track that I didn’t have a video for, or budget for, to disrupt what is going on for my focus track.
      The other issue is; I don’t believe you can pitch a song every 2 weeks to Spotify and have enough time for the human curators to review and make a decision. You can only pitch one song at a time. So on release date of the new song, you could pitch your next song, but that’s not really giving them enough time to make a decision. Sometimes their editorial decisions are based on the performance of the last track. And they haven’t yet had enough time to determine how that’s performed, because you just released Track A the same day you are pitching Track B. If volume and consistency is part of your strategy, I would adjust from 2 weeks to 3 weeks.

  9. Hi, thanks for this. I’m checking out the Academy. I have been doing Facebook ads for about a month with some success. My monthly listener totals jumped from 23 to 333. I happened to know that one of my tracks is very popular in a certain country (it’s a classical tune from my Christmas album.) In the last 28 days it has 225 listeners, 260 streams and 305 saves. I assume that means a bunch of people saved it to their library without even listening to it. But the algorithm hasn’t budged. All the tracks on that album have benefited and I’m getting a lot of saves. But NO NEW FOLLOWERS! I interact with all the commenters on FB and ask them to follow me with an artist link. Nothing, I also did a post to fans om my FB page who are on Spotify asking them to follow me with a link to my profile. 3,000 people liked the post. No new followers!!! What am I doing wrong?

    1. Hey Johnny, Thanks for reading and checking out Band Builder Academy. Overall, just from reading your comment, it sounds like you might have more success “pulling” people into listen to your music, rather than “pushing” them. But it’s not as simple as that either. I hope you’ll join us inside Band Builder and explore this more. – Todd

    1. It’s possible to buy playlist space, but “large community” should not be your focus. Choose quality over quantity. A playlist that gets you 3,000 plays but 2,000 skips is awful for you. It tells the DSPs that your song is not good, and damages your algorithm score.
      There is also the risk of the service knowing you are on a “bought playlist” and that can do you harm. Services are mostly concerned about artificial plays (bots), but they also have a policy that says you cannot pay to be on a playlists. It’s a bit contradictory, because Spotify is also launching their own service/program where you are charged a percentage of your royalties in exchange for streams. My advice is if you pay for a playlist, make sure you are reaching listeners that will not “skip” your song. Also, know that paid playlists go up when you are paying, and your streams drop sharply when you are not paying. This is not a good strategy. Algorithm play is automated and builds up, and Free!
      I go into a lot of detail in Band Builder Academy on how this works, and I even have a tool (for members only) that helps you see your internal chart position in the Spotify algorithm. check it out. Todd

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