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, as well as how to tell the legit promotion services apart from the dodgy ones, and why you should avoid the shady operators.
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.
How does Spotify promotion work?
Broadly speaking, “Spotify promotion” refers to a set of practices that enable artists to gain more listeners and streams for their content on Spotify. 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. The are PR-services, often run by music-industry-insiders, who already have a well-established rapport with hundreds of playlist curators.
The good ones are also staffed by submission specialists who have a lot of experience with categorizing music — to use our own example, 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.
Genuine playlist promotion services will never “guarantee” placements, because curators of high-quality playlists may or may not accept a submission. That said, a professional provider will also not charge you unless they actually deliver results. At De Novo, we manually preview every single track before pitching them to curators, and if we fail to secure a placement, 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.
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.
As you can see from the table above, there are quite a few options out there for Spotify promotion with real, organic streams, but very few providers guarantee 100% verifiable Spotify data, and fewer still offer a money-back guarantee if they don’t deliver.
Obviously, we might be a little biased, but we believe that De Novo Agency’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 consultation call is designed to help you use your Spotify data meaningfully, unlocking powerful insights to drive future marketing and audience targeting choices.