20 Spotify Playlist Promotion Tips for 2021

Todd McCartyMusic28 Comments

spotify playlist promotion 2019

Spotify Playlist Promotion

My motto for 2021 is: Get 10,000 followers on Spotify, and it will change your career. Getting followers and Spotify playlist promotion is on everybody’s mind. Just a few years ago most influencers, music promoters, venues, radio stations, and brands wanted to know how many social media followers a band has. Now, they want to know how many streams they have on Spotify, or how many followers on Spotify. 

I don’t want to repeat too much of what I wrote in a previous article How To Get Followers On Spotify. This article will serve as an update to my last article and give you a bunch of new tips on Spotify playlist promotion and how to get more Spotify plays. Also, if you are looking for Instagram promotion tips, go here How To Promote Your Music On Instagram in 2021. And now….

20 Spotify Playlist Promotion Tips for 2021

1. Before You Submit Do This 

Verify and optimize your Spotify profile. Make sure you verify your Spotify profile by getting access to the Spotify For Artists portal.

2. The Right Song

We’ll get into specifics on where to find curators and tips and tricks on how to land them. But let’s start with some basics. Listen to a couple songs on the playlist first to get a feel for the theme. Pitch the right song for each playlist, otherwise your song will get skips. Just because you are a rock band, doesn’t mean that your song fits every rock playlist. Pay attention to the theme and sub-genres featured in the playlist. Don’t submit a hip hop track to an indie rock playlist. Also, don’t submit old music to a playlist that features “new” or “fresh” tracks.   

3. Song Length and Flow

Every artist is fighting a battle for attention. When submitting a track, consider the intro and outro of the song. If it’s too long, it could upset the flow of that playlist and be rejected. Curators like their playlists to flow, and they don’t want to lose listeners on long tracks. If a song takes too long to start, it might not be a good fit for their playlist.

4. Have a Track Development Plan

Don’t be random about your focus tracks. Just because it’s your newest track doesn’t mean it has to be your focus track. Don’t move on from promoting tracks so quickly. Have a track development plan for each release and try to make each new release bigger and better than the last. 

5. Traffic

Why do we love playlists so much? Because it’s an opportunity to expose your music to large amounts of new listeners. Playlists are traffic sources just like radio airplay, media features, film and tv synchs, mentions by influencers, and organic social media traffic. So make a goal to have a steady flow of traffic every day. 

I like to visualize playlist listeners as concert goers. Put pressure on yourself to play in front of a virtual packed house every night – 365 days of the year.  Set a goal to get 500 listeners a day, then 1,000, and so on.  But again, make sure they are the right “target”. 

6. Curator Psychology – Motivation

Understand the motivation for the curator you are pitching to. Some considerations:

  • Pure music experience and listening pleasure. The right music for the right occasion. DJs fit into this category.
  • In the Mood. Mood is a whole new music market. It’s only been recently that new artists have broken out and been discovered from “mood playlists” rather than traditional promotion (airplay, PR, video).
  • They want to be a music influencer. They’re motivated by getting the largest amount of  “Followers” as possible. To increase your position on their playlist or stay in longer, you should encourage your social media followers to “Follow” and “Listen” to the playlist. Then send another thank you email to the curator with examples of how you helped get them followers.
  • They are an established influencer on YouTube, Instagram, or Twitch (the gaming platform, not Twitter), and the playlist is another channel for them to influence their audience.
  • Playlisting companies like Indiemono, Headsick Sounds, and TopPlaylists are trying to get as many followers and listeners so they can either have a platform to launch their own artist content, or charge for a service. (I actually think these playlists are low quality and can be counter-productive – so I don’t recommend submitting for them)
  • Profit. They run some sort of payola scheme where they will put anything on their playlist for a fee. (I would avoid playlist promotion companies – while they get you streams, they also get you skips, and ruin your song score in Spotify’s algorithm).
  • A&R or music supervisors
  • In store play playlists. Like fashion retailers, salons, or other brick and mortar outlets.
  • Fitness influencers
  • Brands (Nike, PlayStation, H&M)
  • Media outlets, press, blogs
  • Independent Labels. Their main goal – have dedicated places to promote their new releases.

7. Do It Yourself

You can do this yourself. You don’t have to pay somebody. Have a new song scheduled to be released on Spotify? In July of 2018 Spotify launched a beta of their Song Pitching Tool 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.

You should also spend time finding independent curators and contact them. Get them to add your songs. If your song reacts positively to the listeners of that playlist and you start to get more and more spins, follows, and shares, Spotify’s algorithm will notice. When the algorithm finds a track that listeners are responding to positively, it will usually be put in algorithm playlists, Discover Weekly & Radio, or into a test playlist like Fresh Finds for a week or two. If it tests well from there, it may get reviewed by several curators for further official Spotify playlist considerations.

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

8. Influencer Playlists

Don’t just wait for major playlists to come. Increase your chances by seeking out independent curators and influencers, and ask them to add your music. To avoid skips, make sure these are targeting listeners who “should” like your music. Brands like Nike or Starbucks are influencers as well. Some playlists that have “lots of followers” might be falsifying. When observing Spotify playlists, the engagement – the actual number of targeted listeners – is much more important than the number of followers.  Also, if you think the other artists in the playlist don’t fit with your music, that’s probably going to get you more skips than fans – so I would avoid submitting for the playlist.

9. Step By Step – How to Find Playlist Curators

  • Find Playlists. (note: as of 2/7/20 Spotify has removed this listener count feature from some apps. So you may not be able to see this feature any longer. Not to worry. Inside Band Builder Academy I have a tool that will help you find the right playlists). 
    I don’t like to find just any playlist. I like to find targeted playlists that have an “active” audience. By “active” I mean the subscribers are actually listening, rather than subscribing and forgetting about it. You can tell this by looking on an artist’s “About” page on the right side of the Spotify desktop player. There is a “Discovered On” section that gives you the artist’s top  5 playlists, and how many listeners discovered the music through that playlist. Find those and make a list.  spotify playlist promotion discovered on music marketing
  • Contact the Curator. Sometimes the curator will leave an email address or website in the playlist description. If not, click on the username for that playlist. This is the curator. If it shows a photo and a person’s name, there is a good chance you can contact them outside of Spotify. Many Spotify users sign up through Facebook, so their Facebook name and photo is the same as it appears on Spotify. So head over to Facebook and search for that person. You can message them. If you can’t find their name on Facebook, try Instagram, Twitter, or YouTube. In some cases you can find their email address or a link to a website with contact information.
  • If the curator’s Spotify username is not their name, it will be a made up name, company, or number like 04012873. You can try searching for these on Facebook, Google, or elsewhere, but typically these are hard to find. In some cases impossible.
Additional Steps
  • Choose one or two songs to submit. Curators get a lot of requests, so they don’t have an endless supply of time to listen to your submission. At most send them 3 songs to consider. Be grateful if they add one of them.
  • Before submitting to follow their playlist, listen to several of the songs to truly know which of your tracks may be a fit. Then send a simple conversational pitch asking for their consideration and support. In my experience, most curators care about the song more than anything. So short and sweet is just fine.  It’s best not to bombard them with too many accomplishments. You can let the music speak for itself, or add one or two achievements that make you stand out.
  • If you get added to their playlist, share it on social media and encourage your audience to subscribe. Do this as soon as possible. Then follow up and show them you supported.

10. Out Of Date Playlists

When searching for playlists you may find one that has 50,000 followers that looks perfect. Make sure to sort the playlist by Date. Hit the calendar icon near the top right side of the track list. If the curator hasn’t added many tracks in the past few months, it’s probably not worth your effort to track them down and submit.

11. List of Curator Services

Here is a list of the biggest curation services (example: SoundPlate, IndieMono, Listed, etc.)  Actually, as of 1/1/2020, I am not recommending this strategy any longer. You can still click to request the list, but I recommend a different strategy – one that I don’t see anybody using involving Spotify’s internal charts (not public).

12. Spotify Playlist Exchange

Click the genre bubbles to seek out playlists to submit for. Or press the “Start A Topic” button to post your own playlist. Go to the Spotify Playlist Exchange.

13. Reddit

Reddit has a minute-by-minute feed of Playlist action. Or use the Reddit search bar to find specific playlists, or search for curators, submission forms. I find the Google search engine better than the Reddit one.

14. Don’t Buy Fake Spotify Plays

There are shady companies called click centers that sell you packages of fake streams. Don’t do it. It is against Spotify policy and not worth risking your reputation with one of the world’s biggest music streaming services.

15. Spotify Promotions Services

Updated 2/14/20I no longer recommend using so called “Spotify promotion services”. In fact I discourage you from using them. They are getting too many skips from their poor quality playlists. Those skips are preventing artists from getting Official Spotify playlists and official Spotify algorithm play. 
Some guarantee a certain amount of playlist adds or streams. How can they do this? Some actually pitch in the same way I described above. But most aren’t actually pitching your music to curators. They have contacted the original owners of those playlists and purchased the account for cash money. So they now control it and can put tracks from their paying customers.

Very few of these services have direct relationships with official Spotify curators. They also don’t pitch the major label owned playlists Filtr (Sony), Digster (Warner), and Topsify (Universal). These label owned playlists are curated almost exclusively with Sony, Warner, and Universal owned or distributed content.

  • Not all are fake. But in my experience, these types of playlists are of low quality because they are curated based on money, not on which tracks flow well or sound good on the same playlist. Consequently, these service owned playlists don’t usually have a good return on investment. You certainly won’t make your money back from streaming royalties. And they will do damage to your algorithm song score. It’s a counterproductive strategy.
Still like what you’re learning here? I teach my full Spotify marketing strategy inside Band Builder Academy. You will never have to purchase Spotify plays again.  CLICK HERE to Learn More.

16. You Got Added to a Playlist. What’s Next?

Once you get in a playlist, make the most of it!  Find a way to contact or reach out to the curator who added your playlist and thank them to show your gratitude. It tells them you appreciate their support, and it might lead to an ongoing relationship for your future releases, or even your old catalogue.

To continue with the venue analogy – Don’t be the band that forgets their email sign-up list at the venue. It’s critical that you make and retain fans. Keep them up to date with an email newsletter. You can’t rely on social media algorithms to communicate and stay in touch with all of your fans. Though there is no direct way to extract an email address from your Spotify listeners, there are many ways to direct them to sign up for your email list. Direct them on your bio section. Think about where they will go next. Most likely Google or YouTube, or maybe Facebook. Make sure you think of all the possibilities of where you can place that sign up link.

It’s important to make it easy for your listeners to become your fans. You can also research how to use “gates”. Gates are forms or widgets that help you capture information or unlock content. There are several options you can research.  Feature.FM, Metablocks, Show.co, and more. 

17. Artist Playlists

Curate a playlist by yourself so you can understand the process and motivation for yourself. Artist Playlists can be a powerful asset to use later on when you have a new track to release. Read more about why here.

18. Social Media Links

Use the Social Media links in your Artist Profile. It’s the easiest way for curators and fans to learn more about you and follow you. These social media links will help steer traffic into your email list.  spotify playlist promotion social media links music marketing

19. Spotify Ad Studio and Marquee

Sign up for Spotify Ad Studio here. While the cost per listener is more than Facebook and YouTube ads, there is the benefit of capturing users while they are “on platform”, and not having to drive the away from social media and click over to Spotify.

Spotify launched a beta version of a new pay-for-play opportunity called Spotify Marquee. Not all artists have access to these advertising options, but it will be rolled out to more artists in 2021.

20. Playlist Tracking

Track your playlists. You can use Spotify For Artists to track your plays and playlist stats. Or, there are subscription services you can pay for that allow you to track what playlists others are on, find playlists, curators (not contacts), and provide you with data analytics that makes it easy for you to find playlists to submit for. Some companies that I like are SpotOnTrack and ChartMetric


Other Spotify Best Practices for 2021

  • Create a bio and add it through your Spotify For Artists portal. 
  • PRO TIP: When working on your artist profile or finding influencer playlists, always use the Spotify desktop app. The web version and mobile app don’t have all the necessary features used in this article.
  • Add photos to your Spotify profile by using your Spotify For Artists portal.
  • Use the Artist Pick feature on your Spotify For Artists portal. This is thought to trigger the algorithm to take notice of this track and make it known to Spotify that this is your “focus” track.
  • Add your social media profiles to your Spotify For Artists portal.
  • It’s crucial to add tour dates on Songkick because it will show up on your Spotify profile.
  • Encourage listeners to “heart” your artist profile or “follow. The heart has replaced the follow button on the desktop app, and the follow button still remains on mobile.
  • SPOTIFY FOLLOW BUTTON – To increase your followers place a Follow Button at the top of your website.  spotify follow button music marketing spotify playlist promotion
  • Pre-Save with gates & widgets  Learn how in this article.
  • Use listener location data (from Spotify For Artists) to plan your tour routings. Also you can target those markets with FB ads to help sell tickets and get more Spotify followers.


So there you have it. The latest Spotify playlist promotion tips for 2021. If you’re a recording artist and want to promote your music on Spotify or submit to playlist curators, this should be a good resource. The media and industry want to know how many streams you have on Spotify. It will open doors to other opportunities. Share it with a friend and bookmark this in your browser. I would love to hear additional tips or questions in the comments below.

Like what you’ve learned here? 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.
Todd McCarty

28 Comments on “20 Spotify Playlist Promotion Tips for 2021”

    1. I think my advice is to be realistic with your playlist promotion. I had much better results going with independent curators than going with PlaylistPush or other such similar services that require $100’s of investment. For example, the best two curators I have worked with, their service was only about $15-20 but they delivered me a decent organic stream rate of a few thousand a month. Anything making bold claims and wanting large sums is never going to end well, go smaller and realistic to get better value for your money.

  1. I liked the way you approach a certain topic, efficient and to the point. Simple. This is very informative. Thank you!

  2. Todd, thank you so much for deciphering this platform for me. I feel empowered with focus and direction, thanks to you!

  3. Thank You so much- this is incredibly helpful since its my very first time releasing a single/Ep for my band JP & The Drag Kings- would you recommend drip releasing singles for first time or Ep all at once?

    Thanks again For what your doing- can’t wait to read the other articles!

    Warm Regards,

    -Jayde P

  4. Todd,
    Thanks again for all info you give us. Is there a way to make a single available in spotify before the ablum release and when the album does release it links to the album as opposed to having two of the same versions of the song on spotify, one linked to the single and one linked to the album?

    1. Hi Drew. Don’t get caught up on having more than one version of the single dirty up the discography page. There is no perfect way to manage stand alone singles and album versions across all digital services. The best thing to do is use the same ISRC for your stand alone single and the album version of that single. As long as you have the same ISRC, all of the algorithm data will be tied to that ISRC.

      If you want to clean up the discography page once the album is released, you can take down the stand alone single. However you risk losing data in the algorithm, and I don’t think it’s worth it. For example: if somebody saved it or hearted it on Spotify, or put it in a playlist, you will lose that positive algorithm event.

      To keep it simple, just ensure you use the same ISRC for that recording. And no matter where and how it’s released, the digital services will perform ideally.

  5. great article Todd!! I have a question, I cannot find any Spotify desktop app on the Apple Store – what do you suggest?

  6. In this huge and foggy beautiful mess which is the music industry for independent artists, your articles are always illuminating, thankyou for all the tips and passion ! With respect, from the Eastern Pyrenees 🙂

  7. Todd,

    This is a fantastic blend of detailed explanation, informed opinion and actionable advice.

    It’s light years ahead of the usual scraped bullet-points found on other blogs, and clearly written by a professional.

    Needless to say I have signed up to your Band Builder Academy and am looking forward to a productive 2020!



  8. Super nice content mate! By the way, i have signed up to your mailing list. I will probably be one of the first person to signup to your baby, when it comes online.

    Are you creating marketing Spotify tools?
    Whitehat that is…
    DIdn’t know they had an API to work with!

    1. Hey Andre, great to hear. Can’t wait. Yes Spotify has a great open API and developer tools for those that know how to use it. (i’m not one of them, haha). But I did hire a developer to build me one tool for Band Builder. It is for members only. Looking forward to seeing you inside Band Builder Academy in January.

  9. As an independent artist , it has been very difficult to find consistent and honest advice on how to do well in this industry.

    Thank you for being so open and helpful! I can’t wait to use all these tips for my next single! I definitely was a tad worried about what direction I wanted to head in especially because my song comes out in 13 days but, not anymore!
    I’m excited to release “Wake Up” now with all these tips !

    Thank you

  10. Hey Todd,

    Thanks for the great and clear content – hard to find in this industry!

    How can you tell which Spotify promotion services are the “good ones” and which are not? Are there a couple of those good companies that you would recommend?

    Thanks for your time and expertise, we will definitely be signing up for your email list!

    1. No problem. Glad you enjoyed it.
      (arm stretch….sigh… sorry get ready for a rant..)

      Honestly, I’m 100% over any company that calls themself a “Spotify promotion” company or service. That means they want to trade you dollars for playlists. A novel idea right? The problem is, this strategy assumes that getting on 3rd party “listener” playlist is a great thing. It’s not. Most of these playlists are poor quality, and get you lots and lots of skips. Which tells Spotify’s algorithm your song isn’t good (in relation to songs that don’t get skipped). Skips are the kiss of death on Spotify.

      Spotify is trying to be nice about this issue (they don’t need any public spats with artists or industry), but they expressly say it’s against their policy for any user to sell a playlist. Does anybody think that Spotify is just sitting back and turning a blind eye to businesses trying to “game the system”, break their rules, or building an unsanctioned business from their platform? The one common thing I see with artists that are trying to use paid playlists services – they don’t have official playlists. It’s no coincidence that Spotify are ignoring artists that use this strategy.

      So the answer to your question – There are NO “good ones”. Their motivation is getting you lots of “listener” playlists and streams for your money. They don’t care that the skips from those playlists hurt you and prevent you from getting official Spotify playlists. They just want you to “feel good” about getting on lots of playlists and having lots of streams in the short term. They ignore the fact that you need to have a balanced “on Spotify” and “off Spotify” strategy to truly succeed on Spotify.

      Plain and simple, these “playlist promotion” companies are doing damage to artists.

      Happy to debate my position and argue it with anybody. I want to protect the artists.

      And if you want to learn a different strategy, and the approach I teach, you can either go to Spotify for Artists website and consume everything Spotify have on the subject (to do it the right way), or you can sign up for my Band Builder course where I teach a very balanced fan building strategy as well as Spotify. It’s one that sustains, and doesn’t require you to pay any playlist promotion company. https://bandbuilderacademy.com


      Todd McCarty

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