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Spotify Strategy for Rappers and Trap Soul/R&B Artists

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Jay Picxsso

Jay Picxsso

Music Producer, Studio Engineer

The era of the physical CD is gone and I am celebrating it. Victory for streaming. I believe it’s much more beneficial for independent artists because you get paid for every online stream of your song, as apposed to someone buying your CD once and you only get paid once. Plus, it will cost the listener who is streaming your song nothing extra if they already have a Spotify account. 

 

The other great thing is you can upload your songs directly to your fans without having to sign away your master or publishing rights to record labels. You are in full control.

 

  There is a downside to the streaming platform. Anyone can upload a song, matter of fact 48,000 songs are being uploaded to Spotify everyday. So the biggest challenge nowadays is how to get noticed and how do you get listeners to hear your music in a saturated environment.

Releasing songs - The basics

You worked hard to create 10 amazing songs, do not release them all at once as an album or EP (especially if you have a small fan base). You should release multiple singles leading up to your full-length album or EP.

The thing that can help you get more exposure are editorial playlists. If you release a song via Spotify you can submit it to Spotify curators, who will review it and chances are they will add it to a Spotify editorial playlist. If you drop an album, you are only limited to submit 1 song of your album, that’s it. So if you got an album containing 12 songs, releasing them separately, you got 12 shots to get one of your songs on these playlists.

Bare in mind to give the Spotify team a minimum of 11 days to review your song. Like I said earlier, there are 48,000 songs being uploaded everyday.

Any song you release should have a strategy behind it, don’t just drop songs. You must come up with a plan to make some kind of impact. You should invest as much effort as you put in a song, into launching the actual song it self.

If you only release songs on Spotify and that’s it, your missing out on growing a fan base fast. You should upload 1 song, promote the hell out of it and 1 month later release the next one, and so on. Now you will be growing your fan base in between these songs, especially when you get on these playlists. It is critical to have a promotional campaign ready for every song you release. There are a ton of artists out there with the most brilliant music, know body knowing them only because they do not realize how to properly promote them selves.

Let’s paint a picture.

You as a listener, discover a new song and it’s not bad, but also not great. Chances are you move on and never listen to that artist again. But what if the first song you hear of a new artist is amazing and the other 3 songs are just ok. There is a possibility you add this song to one of your playlists or you might even follow this artist. You should never hold on to that best song, release it! To add to that if a song makes it on an editorial playlist, this translates to thousands of streams and thousands of followers. Now you have created a situation where the Spotify’s algorithm will notify your followers when you release your next song. Another advantage is it triggers the Spotify’s Discover Weekly. If your not familiar with it, it’s the auto generated playlist Spotify created for your fans weekly. And every Friday you will have the updated Release Radar Playlist, containing only new releases. This is a customized playlist, shown to your followers or people who have listened to you before.

(more about playlists, Release Radar and Discover Weekly later)

Maybe you got thousands of followers, but you never end up on the Spotify’s Release Radar. You release a new song but you get a small amount of streams. It’s probably because your releasing songs without a good launch campaign or releasing songs with to little time between the two. If you have a small fan base and a well organized plan, chances are you get a lot more streams compared to somebody with a big following with no plan. Plan the releasing of your songs months ahead, do it!

There are so many platforms with an algorithm like, YouTube, Instagram, Facebook etc. I’ve mentioned Spotify also having an algorithm and not a lot of indepent artists are using it in their advantage. It takes the Spotify algorithm system a good four weeks to be picked up by Release Radar and Discover Weekly. After four weeks you release your next track, you kick that Spotify’s algorithm and your streams go back up again. After four weeks your streams start to incline and your ready to release the next song. More about different playlists later.

You might hate me for this:

If you buy your beats online, it’s possible for everybody to have a song ready every four weeks. If you have beats at your disposal, you set your mind to it and can’t put out a song every four weeks, you’d rather stop. 😬 This game might not be for you.

Featuring an Artist on your song - The smart way

But even if you’re struggling with staying consistent, there is a small hack that can help you.

 

Take the song with your most streams and make a remix of it it. Ask for an artist (or two) to drop a verse on this song. They might hop on it just because you got some buzz on the original song. Another way to stay consistent is to ask a guitar player, some one who plays the keys or even a live drummer to make an acoustic remix. They might be interested if you mention them as a featured “artist”. Try to always be triggering the Spotify algorithm every four weeks. It’s a waste of your energy and probably your money if your not playing the long term planning game.

 

But of course don’t limit yourself only collaborating on remixes. Collaborating in general has so many benefits.

 

  1. It’s a good thing because you got the featured artists fans listening to one of your songs and maybe eventually becoming your fans.
  2. You can both submit the song for the editorial playlist, so your doubling your chances on that.
  3. Collaborating is perfect because you get double the exposure if the both of put it on social media.

 

Your fans and the fans of the collaborating artist will get notified via Release Radar.

 

If your about to collaborate, this might help you:

 

Collaborate with artists with a similar or bigger fan base. If you have around 500 followers, aim collaborating with artists who have 400-1000 followers. I suggest you make a list of people you want to collaborate with. Have multiple songs ready with a verse and hook on it, leave room for one verse and work your list. Artists that are not familiar with your music might not want to work with you. You increase your chances a LOT of working with somebody if you would build some kind of connection first.

 

Example: if a random stranger would ask you for a ride, you probably say no. What if somebody you vibe with or share interests with, asked you for that ride? Would you give him/her a ride?

 

  • First, Follow the person you want to collaborate with on social media and Souncloud. Like and comment on his/her music. It’s even better to DM somebody complimenting someones music, makes it much more personal.
  • Subscribe to his/her YouTube channel and also comment on there.
  • And after a few months, just reach out, send your demo and they might be interested.
  • If the artists are not feeling your songs for whatever reason, try to have some beats ready. Maybe they are in for another song. Don’t be discouraged if they don’t want to collab at all. 😲 Swallow your pride and move on to the next.

Submitting your song to editorial playlists - Step by step

It starts by signing in to your Spotify account. Visit artists.spotify.com or download the

app from the App Store. Now hit the Dashboard and in the upper bar click on “Music.” On this page you should click on the “Upcoming” section.

Now you should see all your songs you´ve uploaded via Distrokid, CDBaby or any other digital distributor. Now, if you click on one of your songs it should say: “Get heard by our Spotify editors.” We have talked about dropping a track every four weeks. It´s best if you schedule it four weeks ahead. That´s because when we submit our song we got to give the editors time to listen to it and accept it to their playlist. 

In the upper right corner you should see “Submit a song.” Click on this and now you will be redirected to the next page. It will show a submission form that you fill out by answering questions about the song, including its genre. Fill it all in and click “Next.”

Filling in this form speaks for itself.

After this step you will see a message saying “Thank you for your submission” with a reminder that you can only submit one song at a time.

Spotify Playlists - The gems

The gems are the playlists and you are wasting your energy if you are not taking advantage of it. You should create and link your Spotify Artists account to your Spotify profile, if you haven’t done this already. Now login to your Artist profile and click “Music” at the top, and then on the “Playlists” tab. This is where you will see the different playlists: algorithmic, editorial, and listener-created.

 

Algorithmic Playlists:

 

Release Radar: this playlist is updated each Friday which is the day of most of new releases (New Music Friday). So, according to your habit of listening, this playlist will deliver to you always the freshest releases on Spotify, usually from artists you are used to listen. If you release a new song it will trigger the Release Radar which will let your followers know you have a new song out.

 

Discover Weekly: based also on your listening habit, this playlist will make you Discover artists you maybe don’t use to listen, but who are similar to those you are used to listen. The songs featured are not especially new releases.

 

Radio: This is a feature that lets Spotify continuously serve you with tracks based on any artist, playlist, album or any song you wish. It keeps updating over time to keep a fresh playlist. If you are not sure what to listen to, select an artists or playlist and let the radio be a continuous radio mix that doesn’t stop.

 

Your Daily Mix: To get a personalized experience, spotify came up with a way to help fans to get to their taste of music with this playlist, customized specifically for them. You now get to hear the sound you like and once in a while a new song. Spotify creates up to six personalized playlists based on the listeners favorite songs and related music. It’s a great way to get discovered by listeners who are listening to a similar sound, because it’s being updated daily.

 

Editorial Playlists:

 

This is a playlist made up by editorial team of Spotify. You have to submit your song trough there system and hope they pick it up. It’s based on music trends, data, and I now it’s fair, a relationship between the artist and the editorial team. But don’t get discouraged, you got nothing to lose just submitting your song. Everybody wants to be on these lists, and you will get a lot of streams because of this. But the most artists get the most streams coming from Release Radar and Discover Weekly.

 

Listener Playlists:

 

And of course you have the listeners playlist, made by the listener itself. Do not underestimate these and encourage your fans to add it to their playlist. Your beatmaker/producer of the beat you used might have a Spotify account with beats he produced for artists. He might want to add your creation of his beat to it. It all ads up.

Your own playlist to promote your songs

I have mentioned the benefits of collaborating with others artists. You can use this collaboration to create your own playlist. A playlist that people can follow. Let’s say you (artist A) and the collaborating artist (artist B) have three songs together. Maybe two of your songs and one of his songs with you both on it. You could name the list “Artist A x Artist B”. This way you will also get your music heard by his fans.

 

First you got to get your account verified. You can now create a public playlist and the good thing is people can actually follow this playlist. Every time you update this playlist, the followers of this playlist get a notification.

 

I’ll give you another example that could help you getting more plays with a personal playlist. Let’s say your from the United Kingdom and a lot of your songs have a dark trap sound.

  1. Make a playlist and call it something like: UK Dark Underground Trap.
  2. Now find artists with a similar sound as yours.
  3. You put a bunch of tracks in there and here and there a track of yours in between.

 

What if someone searched for: UK Dark Trap, they might end up on your playlist. You realize you just got some free traffic now and maybe a new fan.

Use Spotify’s data in your advantage

Spotify tracks different data to improve the user experience. They want you to stick around longer on their platform. It would not make sense if you would listen to trap soul/r&b music and in the Spotify Radio they would suggest some EDM track. The next data could help you out with this.

 

Skip Rate:

 

If a listener would listen to your entire song, Spotify recognizes this as quality music or music that the listener likes. This makes it more obvious your track being recommend via Release Radar or Discover Weekly. If your track would be played 5% of the total length by most of the listeners you would get a high skip rate status. You guessed it, this would negatively effect your song. Now that you know this you can keep this in mind when making your music. People tend to skip your song faster if you would have a long intro, so keep your intro’s short should be my advice. To add to that. People could listen to your song longer if you would start your song, right after a short intro, with the chorus. Especially if it’s a catchy one. Nowadays the attention spam of an average listener is way shorter compared to 15 years ago. I’m not saying you should always change every structure of your song so it would affect the creative part all the time, but this info could help you make some smart decisions. Another one, and this is all up to you, is to make short tracks. If you would make your songs shorter, chances are people will listen to 50% of your song is 2.45 min, instead of your song being 6+ min. Makes sense right.

 

Shares & Likes:

 

If listeners like your song that’s also good for you, duh. Also when your song is being shared on social media. Spotify tracks where listeners are coming from. If you get your song embedded on a hiphop/r&b website and it get’s people to the Spotify platform, of course Spotify rewards you up the value ladder.

That’s about it! Now make a plan and go hard! 🔥💪🏽

 

Need beats for your Spotify songs, check em out HERE.

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This license comes with high quality tracked out files which are essential for mixing songs professionally. 

We do not recommend this license if you’re looking to create a music video for YouTube. 

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This license is generally purchased by artists that believe their song has the potential to surpass the streaming caps of other licenses. 

We strongly recommend this license to artists that want to create and monetise a music video for YouTube.