There are two questions that every growing musician asks themselves at some point. One, what is the secret to eternal happiness? And two, does Spotify promotion actually work?
The good news is, we’re working out the answer to the first one and we’ll let you know when we figure it out. The better news is we have the definitive answer to the second question. In this post, we’ll walk you through what Spotify promotion is, how it works, the cost of promoting on Spotify, how to identify a (legit) promotion service that’s right for you, and, most importantly, how to monitor if your promotion $$ are getting you returns.
But first things first: what exactly does “Spotify promotion” mean?
Legitimate Spotify promotion services pitch artists’ music to curators of prominent Spotify playlists, providing exposure to real listeners through such placements. This is distinct from bot networks offering fake streams; using these violates Spotify’s TOS and may result in a ban from Spotify.
It’s extremely important to understand the nuances and implications of this, so let’s look at it in detail.
Why Does Promotion on Spotify Matter?
Broadly speaking, “Spotify promotion” refers to a set of practices that enable artists to gain more listeners and streams for their content on Spotify. Why is this important to an up and coming musician?
As you can clearly see from the above graphic, there’s quite a journey between releasing your song on Spotify and generating royalty income from it. The major stages in this journey include:
- Playlist placement
Your track is placed on multiple Spotify playlists created around a genre, mood, social message or other unifying theme. This maximizes exposure to thousands of listeners who could convert to potential fans.
- Growing listens, subscribers, fans
As more listeners discover your music, your track streams grow, leading to more subscribers and fans.
- Algorithmic streaming
Rapid growth in your listenership is detected by the Spotify algorithm, which then begins serving up your track to more and more listeners whose playlist selections overlap hugely with those of your existing listeners.
- Music income
With an expanding fan base and an ever-growing list of subscribers, your music generates income through royalties, tours, merchandise and other avenues.
How Does Spotify Promotion Work?
Like other media platforms (Netflix, YouTube), Spotify works with the objective of maximizing user engagement. The Spotify algorithm is designed to detect and promote music content that keeps listeners engaged on the platform—playing a song, hitting the ‘like’ and ‘repeat’ buttons, browsing an artist’s profile to discover more songs and so on.
But when you have a new track on Spotify, or if you’re an artist with relatively few listeners on the platform, the algorithm has insufficient data to figure out who might enjoy your music. As a result, the algorithm won’t actively push your music to users.
Curated playlists can give your music that much-needed, initial launch-pad. Getting featured on such third-party playlists is a great way to help Spotify’s algorithms gather data on the types of listeners who like your music, which in turn tells Spotify who to recommend your music to.
When your music generates enough interaction through playlist placements, the Spotify algorithm recognizes this activity and is more likely to include your songs in its algorithmic playlists such as Discover Weekly and Release Radar.
Spotify Promotion Methods
At the time of writing, there are at least three distinct methods that are variously described as “promotion”:
- placement on legitimate, third-party-curated playlists on Spotify
- placement on Spotify’s own official playlists
- sketchy third-party networks with pay-per-stream services for fake streams through bots
As we mentioned earlier, getting fake streams goes against Spotify’s terms of service, and Spotify can and does remove content and/or withhold royalties for artists using such tactics. Given that Spotify pays artists royalties based on the number of streams their content receives, they obviously won’t be happy about users trying to game the system by using bots to generate the appearance of thousands of streams.
These types of services are typically offered by shady operators using fake names, often (but not always) on platforms like Fiverr. They’re easy to spot because they claim to deliver thousands of streams for a handful of dollars, and either won’t name the playlists where they’ll get your content placed, or rely on low-quality lists that exclusively feature artists nobody’s ever heard of (real users don’t seek out and listen to playlists like that).
If you’re ever tempted to try out such services, take our advice: DON’T.
Spotify’s algorithm’s are very sophisticated and it isn’t at all difficult for them to detect which streams come from real human listeners, and which ones are coming from bots that are trying to game the system.
Besides, the whole point of promotion is to help more real people discover your music and build real fans. Paying for fake streams completely defeats that goal, so it makes no sense at all.
Spotify also has their own pay-per-stream feature called Marquee, but since this is really more of a pay-per-click advertising product (similar to using Facebook to advertise your music to potential fans), we won’t discuss that here.
This leaves the two other methods of promotion, which we’ll review below.
Placement on Spotify's editorial playlists
The only way to get your music featured on Spotify editorial playlists is to pitch upcoming tracks to their team via your Spotify for Artists dashboard. There is no guarantee that your pitch will be accepted, but here are a few measures you could take to increase your chances:
- Keep your artist profile page fully updated
- Take the effort to shoot or create an attractive, professional cover photo
- Write a bio that impresses your audience and listeners — if you’re not sure how, you can inexpensively hire a copywriter to write this for you
- Add at least 4 to 5 photos to the image gallery
- Add links to your social media handles, and ensure that they are active
Promotion via third-party curated playlists
For serious music lovers — the kind of people who you’d want as your fans — the real joy of Spotify lies in the countless playlists that allow them to discover new, amazing music.
Many of these popular playlists curated by third-party users on Spotify have thousands of followers ("Jazz Covers Popular Songs" by Playlists Kool is one I love). Depending on the playlist, they’re updated on a weekly, monthly, or even daily basis, meaning listeners are highly engaged and keep coming back for more.
The benefits of getting featured on a playlist like that are obvious, but there are a few things to keep in mind:
- Getting the attention of the curators is often difficult — not all of them publish their contact details, and when they do, they’re typically inundated with hundreds or thousands of requests every week.
- Compiling a list of playlist owners takes time and effort. It’s tempting to make a list of the biggest and most popular playlists in your genre, but in reality, when you’re still just a small artist, pitching to the biggest curators out there does not help your odds of success.
- Pitching your music to curators is very time-intensive, as you have to send a personalized email to each individual curator (nobody reads generic, mass-sent emails — and once you’re relegated to spam, you hurt your future chances of ever being seen, so don’t do it!) — and nineteen times out of twenty, you never even hear back.
- Sending emails into the void can be extremely demoralizing and your time is probably much better spent working on your upcoming music or engaging with existing fans.
These are the reasons why Spotify promotion services exist. They are PR-services, often run by music-industry-insiders, who already have a well-established rapport with hundreds of playlist curators.
How to ID Legit Spotify Promotion Services and Choose the Right One
Genuine Spotify promotion service providers will never “guarantee” playlist placements or number of streams. The curators of high-quality playlists may or may not accept a submission. As for Spotify streams, it’s near-impossible to predict how many listeners will find a given track interesting enough to listen to.
Instead, the best Spotify promotion services are typically staffed by submission specialists who have a lot of experience with categorizing music. To use our own example, at De Novo, we manually preview every single track before pitching them to curators.
Over the years, we’ve developed a feel for which curators are most likely to accept certain sorts of tracks, which greatly improves the odds of success. A professional Spotify promotion service provider will not charge you unless they actually deliver results. At the DeNovo Agency, if we fail to secure a playlist placement for your track, we provide a full refund.
A word of advice: There are many providers out there who charge a “submission fee”, expecting you to pay whether or not you get a placement — you’d do well to steer clear of these types of providers. Also, “guaranteed placement” where you pay not for PR services, but for position on a curated list, is called “payola” and it’s actually illegal under the FCC’s rules, so you’d do well to steer clear of providers who claim to guarantee placement on specific playlists.
Factors to consider when choosing a Spotify promotion service
The needs and priorities of musicians while promoting a song are very varied. This means that the goal(s) of a Spotify promotion campaign differ widely across artists and tracks, from having gaining placements in curated, micro-genre playlists, all the way to attracting the attention of record label A&R execs.
That said, here are some important considerations in deciding which Spotify promotion service is right for you:
- Is the service reputed (for example, do they have positive user reviews and testimonials and a high TrustPilot rating)?
- Does the service ensure that each submission is manually evaluated – in other words, do they actually listen to each song you submit?
- Can you expect feedback on your songs from listeners, music bloggers or playlist curators?
- Will the service help you optimize your Spotify profile to attract more listeners?
- What is the estimated time-line of the campaign?
Pro Tip: In promoting a song on Spotify, speed and consistency are both important factors that influence whether the Spotify algorithm begins suggesting your song to listeners with similar tastes. Thus, gaining a few hundred streams a day steadily for a few weeks is more likely to ‘trigger the algorithm’ than a single spike of a thousand streams within 1 or 2 days.
The cost of Spotify promotion services
One of the common questions that many early career musicians have – understandably – is whether they should even be paying to promote their songs on Spotify. The simple answer is, “yes, if you want your song to be heard widely”. A more detailed explanation is provided below:
The cost of Spotify promotion is linked to the time and effort invested by a team of music marketing experts in running the campaign, including evaluating the track, pitching it to playlist curators, tracking feedback, placements, streaming and download statistics, and campaign costs and returns.
There is a wide spectrum of pricing for a Spotify promotional campaign, ranging from as low as $70 all the way to price tags of over $1,500. The cost depends on multiple factors, of which the major ones are the following:
- Number of targeted playlist placements for a track
- Source region/ location for playlist targeting (since this influences the value of streams and downloads)
- Number of subscribers per playlist
- Number of streams targeted for the campaign period
- Number of followers/ subscribers targeted for the campaign period
The cost per stream of a song in a Spotify promotional campaign can range from as low as $0.01 (1¢) to as high as $0.85 (85¢), depending on the number and location of playlists targeted, playlist subscriber strength, and targeted number of streams and followers for the campaign period.
Frequently Asked Questions about Spotify Promotion Services
What are fake streams on Spotify?
In the context of Spotify, “fake streams” refers to listens, plays, or streams generated for any track by automated bots rather than by real human listeners. Spotify’s terms of service prohibit the use of bots to generate streams and accounts with such activity may be penalized when detected.
Does Spotify detect bots?
Spotify can and does detect bots that stream content on its platform, as bots behave very differently to real human users. Accounts detected attempting to game performance metrics through the use of bots may face content removal or withheld royalties.
Can you buy Spotify monthly listeners?
While there are pay-per-listen services that generate streams through bots, Spotify forbids and penalizes such practices. Artists should instead use legitimate playlist PR promotion providers (like De Novo Agency) or Spotify’s own pay-per-listen Marquee feature.
Going the DIY Route with Spotify Promotion
For those musicians who feel they can invest the time and effort it takes to tackle the challenges of promoting their song on Spotify all on their own, we’ve put together a set of helpful tips to make the sailing a little smoother. (Still, we won’t kid you… it might not be a cake-walk.)
Spotify promotion tips
Revamp your Spotify profile
Use attractive and interesting photographs and images under the ‘Artist Image’, ‘Banner Art’ as well as ‘Album Art’ sections. Use 3 to 4 images to showcase your track. Experiment with the background colors to choose the ones that best showcase your single and album images.
Craft an interesting description for the ‘Artist Bio’ section that intrigues listeners, turning them into fans. Seek professional help from designers and writers in nailing your perfect Spotify profile.
Pin your best track to the top of your Spotify page
The top of your Spotify page is like a shop window. Having your best track showcased there will not only bump up the streams for that track, it will also ensure that potential listeners landing on your page get the best first impression of your music.
Create your own Spotify playlists
In addition to pitching your track to playlist curators, a great option is to create your own playlist, featuring songs that are similar in genre and artist outlook. Be sure to include your own track, preferably midway down the list, right after a couple of popular songs.
Pro Tip: When choosing songs for your playlist, limit your selection to tracks that have already crossed 10K Spotify streams, to improve the odds of greater playlist streams and better visibility for your own track.
Leverage collabs to generate playlists and host listening parties
Reach out to fellow musicians to create collaborative playlists that can draw the combined listenership of all artists. Use a similar strategy to host collab listening parties for your followers on social media. Keep the ball rolling during listening parties by posting interesting snippets about each song – inspirations, behind-the-scenes moments, related music industry trivia and so on.
Plan social media posts around Spotify releases
Amp up the excitement around your next release on Spotify by creating social media content to pique the interest of your followers. Create Tiktok teaser videos and make use of ‘Reel’ and ‘Story’ features on Instagram and Facebook to attract the maximum attention for your upcoming release.
Musicians today have multiple options when it comes to promoting their music on Spotify. Keep in mind, though, that very few providers guarantee 100% verifiable Spotify data or deliver real, organic streams, and fewer still offer a money-back guarantee if they don’t deliver.
Obviously, we might be a little biased, but we believe that DeNovo’s combination of pricing, verifiable data, and money-back guarantee, makes our Spotify promotion service a great option for up-and-coming artists.
Plus, to ensure that you gain an extra boost out of your promotion campaign, our 100% free, no-strings-attached consultation call is designed to help you use your Spotify data meaningfully, unlocking powerful insights to drive future marketing and audience targeting choices.