So you didn’t get playlisted? Is your music career over? Of course not! Stop being dramatic. Is this release doomed to become one of the 38 million tracks that are never even streamed once? Still no. Don’t let a lack of placements discourage you from the multitude of things you can do all by yourself. Take your career into your own hands. 

First, let me be the first to say that we’re sorry. We know that you put your heart and soul into your music and want the world to hear it. It stinks when that doesn’t happen. But before you give up on music —as the voice of your great aunt Karen telling you to get a “real job” echoes in your head—I want to encourage you by saying there are still things you can do.

Let’s talk about the potential reasons your song may have not been featured:

1. The editor didn’t like your song.

As much as we would like to think that every song is the next “Bohemian Rhapsody” or “Here Comes The Sun,” even those songs have their haters. Most playlists are still curated by real humans with their own personal preferences. And many times, they simply didn’t like your song. There is no fix for this. 

2. The marketing material didn’t do its job.

There are a few items you should have for each release. Having mediocre marketing materials will cost you opportunities.

  • Song Narrative: a short description or brief synopsis of the meaning of the song. 
  • Headshot: a professional photo of the artist. 
  • Biography: a description of accomplishments, achievements, and an artist’s history.

3. There wasn’t enough time.

Can you upload a song for distribution today and have it available at all DSPs by tomorrow? Technically, yes. But outside of freak circumstances, such as a viral smash or the opportunity of a lifetime, it’s not at all recommended. We suggest an eight-week lead time for a proper rollout. Each day after the eight weeks decreases your opportunities considerably. While there may still be some opportunities, typically the other artists who did have that eight-week lead time will be the ones handed the opportunities. This is typically the biggest reason that a song is not selected for a playlist, outside of an editor not liking it.

With the bad news out of the way, let’s look at all the wonderful good news. Buckle up!

1. Identify Your Audience:

Ask yourself: who is listening to this music? Who does this music resonate with? What artist or band does this music sound similar to? Who is engaging with you on social media? Finding answers to these questions will provide key demographic and psychographic information about the people you should be reaching. Once you have identified this information, you can better target the people who might like your music.

2. Utilize Social Media:

We’ve all seen it. Songs like Walker Hayes’ “Fancy Like” blow up all over short-form video sites. Once you identify your target audience, you can find ways to engage them with your music on social media. The key is to utilize the tools available to you that help get your content in front of potential fans. It can be a hashtag, a filter, a challenge, or you can create choreography. Social media is built for you to connect and communicate with people who share similar interests with you.

3. Run Social Media Ads:

Social media platforms offer advertising. You can spend $5 promoting a post on your Facebook or Instagram account and significantly grow your audience if you have done the work to identify those demographics and psychographics in the first step. Bump that advertising budget up to $10 and grow it even more. The most important thing is to have a Call-To-Action (CTA). What you want the viewer to do must be communicated clearly. Want them to stream a song? Tell them, and provide a smartlink. Want them to share the song with a friend? Tell them that and give the link to do so. Want them to save the song to their personal playlist? Tell them!

4. Pitch to Independent Playlist Curators:

A release can only be pitched to official curators at the Digital Service Providers a single time. You have one shot. Manual playlist adds may happen organically if a song is performing well on its own. If you can track down a curator, reach out, connect with them, and see if they are interested in checking out your music. Build a relationship. You will be surprised at the results of doing this over and over and building it up over time.

5. Create Your Own Playlist:

You don’t have to only rely on someone else’s playlists to increase your streams. Why not build your own? Build a playlist that features your own music and music from other artists you pair well with. Find ways to market and promote these playlists to grow its following. Trade spots with other artists you have relationships with who have built their own playlists. Feature their songs on their release date in exchange for them featuring yours on your release date. The sky’s the limit.

6. Use Spotify For Artists Tools:

As an artist, you have access to a Spotify For Artists account. There you’ll find an ever-evolving range of tools that will help reach your audience. 

  • Promo Cards allow you to create customizable and accessible graphics to share your music with your fans via social media. 
  • Spotify Codes are custom-made QR codes attached to your song on Spotify. This code never changes and will always direct the scanner to your song. 
  • Canvas allows you to add a dynamic looping visual to the song. This can be used to capture attention and add a sense of personality to the music. 
  • Artist Picks allows you to feature a track when customizing your profile. It can be the most recent release, it can be one that is celebrating an anniversary, or it can be a track that coincides with current events or holidays. 
  • Artist Playlist is a playlist that is featured on your Spotify profile separate from the playlists mentioned above. This playlist can feature anything you want, and it lives on your Spotify profile so that anyone who visits your profile can listen. 
  • Marquee is a full-screen, sponsored recommendation of your new release to Spotify Free and Premium listeners who have shown interest in your music and have the potential to listen more. When a listener clicks on a Marquee, they are guided to your new release—and your release alone. This means they can focus solely on your music and discover more of you.
  • Discovery Mode allows artists to boost their track(s) in the algorithm for a decreased royalty rate. While not available for all tracks and is handled differently between every distributor, opted-in songs are served to more algorithmic playlists and occur more frequently in shuffles and recommendations. The decreased royalty rate is only applied to the streams offered by Discovery Mode and does not affect streams from other sources.

7. Use Apple Music For Artists Tools:

Similar to Spotify, you can access marketing tools specific to Apple. 

    • Twitter Audio Cards showcase a 30-second preview of a song with your album cover art that can be used on Twitter to promote a song. 
    • Embeddable Player allows you to embed your music directly into your website. Viewers who are not logged into an Apple Music account will be able to preview the music, and viewers who are logged into an Apple Music account can listen to all of the embedded music without ever leaving your website, boosting your stream count and royalties at Apple Music. 

8. Use Pandora AMP Tools:

Don’t sleep on Pandora! While over 50% of streaming income comes from Spotify and Apple Music, Pandora has some of the best tools for marketing. People are using Pandora who are already your fan, and the tools in Pandora’s Artist Marketing Platform will help you connect better with the established fan and maybe make a few new ones. 

    • Artist Audio Messages are simple 15-second messages from the artist to the listener. They are meant to be a personal connection, similar to old-fashioned radio liners. 
    • A Featured Track is free money. Artists are eligible to feature a track for two months and can select up to six tracks per year. If the song has been released in the last year and has more than 10 plays in the week, then it is eligible to be featured. 
    • The “Promote a Single” feature simply combines Audio Messages and Featured Tracks into one easy place if you intend to use both tools for a song.
    • Promote a Show allows any of your performances that are listed in Songkick or Ticketmaster to be promoted in Pandora. When this is active, any listener in the area of that show who listens to your music will hear a 15-second audio message from you inviting them to the show with a link to learn more about the show.  
    • Pandora took normal playlists and made them just a little bit more personal. With their “Create a Program” function, you can create your own radio show. Fill this playlist with songs you love, and then between songs, fill in your commentary or thoughts. Include interviews with artists you know and love. Make the listening experience more connected and personal with your audience. 

9. Use Amazon Music For Artists Tools:

if you’ve ever found yourself asking Alexa to play your favorite songs, odds are that someone has asked her for yours. Of all streaming platforms, Amazon Music has easy accessibility to a very large group.

    • Intros allow you to add a 15-second message prior to your song being played. Similar to radio liners, this offers the listener a chance to hear your voice and connect with you. 
    • Spotlight allows you to feature a song on your profile with an audio message.
    • Connect a Twitch channel and live stream to build a personal relationship with fans.
    • Connect your merch from to your profile.
    • View analytics from Alexa.

10. Perform Live Shows

The best way to connect with your fans and promote new music is to get out there in the world! Find new audiences, tell your story from the stage or even a virtual one via social media. Live music connects you with the artist in ways that no other marketing tactic can, so get out there and do what you love in front of the people who love you. 

Whew! That was a lot of information! If you’re our client, much of this we do for you, but as always, please feel free to email us with any questions or ideas that you have. If you are not a client of ours, we hope this helps you get your music out to the world!