• Tom DuPree III

I Spent $1,000 on Spotify Playlist Promotion in 2019. Here’s What I Learned.

Updated: Feb 25, 2020

Working a single is tough, especially as an independent artist. You have to pursue every angle to get your music into the ears of your would-be audience, and one of the most popular methods of late is to submit for Spotify playlists.

Throughout the course of 2019, I spent just over $1k on submitting my music to playlists across several platforms to see what the fuss was about and to learn whether or not the juice was really worth the squeeze.

This is what happened.

First Things First: Which Platforms Did I Use?

It’s no mystery there are a lot of websites out there that claim to give you access to playlists and increased streaming numbers, and I spent a lot of time on the ‘ole Google machine trying to find those with a combination of the best odds for success and the most validity. Here’s what I went with:

Playlist Push - a marketplace that connects you (the artist) with playlists curators who have playlists with a higher number of followers than most other platforms.

  • Pros: access to the most high-volume playlists per-capita and a very specific genre selection process that allows you to accurately target the right playlist options

  • Cons: inability to select which specific playlists you submit for (their algorithm decides for you) and by far the most expensive option on the list; also, the genre selection process can easily work against you if you don’t confidently know the genre of your music (research proved very helpful here)

SubmitHub - a marketplace that connects you with not only playlist curators but with blogs, radio stations, YouTubers, and even record labels.

  • Pros: tons of options to submit your music and very low cost

  • Cons: genre selection is a bit limited, making it difficult to “niche down” if you’re making music that doesn’t fall into one of the more popular genres

SpotiFLY - a single-curator site that allows you to pay a flat fee for submission to a specific set of playlists.

  • Pros: three tiers of pricing that allow you to select your preferred level of investment and the length of your campaign

  • Cons: feels like the playlists have less to do with placing your song alongside other music of the same genre and more like a set of predetermined playlists with a good follower base to simply pad your numbers; also not enough transparency

Soundplate - a free marketplace that allows you to personally submit your music directly to playlist curators.

  • Pros: free, tons of playlist options, and the freedom to select whichever playlists you prefer

  • Cons: labor intensive (you have to submit to each playlist one by one and there are several steps to submitting to any single playlist), lots of playlists with <100 followers, and a cap on the number of submissions you can make within a given period of time (if you go nuts and submit to a lot of playlists in a row, they will pause your ability to submit for a four-hour period so choose wisely)

IndieMono - a website with their own set of playlists, created and curated by them.

  • Pros: free, lots of genres, and the playlist curation seems to be very good

  • Cons: difficult to get added, especially if you are not making music that falls into a popular genre

Klangspot - a single playlist curator with lots of playlist options and an easy-to-use website.

  • Pros: free, lots of playlist options, super-nice guy who seems to be a genuine lover of music

  • Cons: can take a bit of time to get added to a playlist if you make the cut (but worth the wait)

Step Two: The Numbers

Ok, so I spent ~$1,000 over the course of the year (or thereabouts), but where did it all go, how many playlist adds did I get, how many streams did that earn, and, most importantly, did I make my money back? Let’s break it down:

Playlist Push - I ran campaigns for three of the 14 songs I released, and I spent $247.50, $281.00, and $295.31, respectively, for a grand total of $823.81. This resulted in 10 playlist adds across all three songs.

SubmitHub - I spent $118 on credits (SH works on a credit system wherein you buy credits that you can then “spend” to submissions, with three pricing tiers - 1, 2, and 3 credits per submission depending on the curator), which resulted in 7 adds across four songs.

SpotiFLY - I spent $144 on two songs and got 8 playlist adds out of it.

Soundplate - since Soundplate is free, I spent no money and got four songs added to one playlist each, a total of 4 playlist adds.

IndieMono - I spent no money (again, their service is free) but also got added to no playlists. A rather unsuccessful experiment on this one.

Klangspot - I submitted one song to one playlist and got 1 playlist add. And again, this service is free as well.

So, for those keeping track, I spent a total of $1,085.81 on playlist promotion, which resulted in 29 playlist adds.

Still with me? Cool.

Now, for the next part: how many streams did that get me? Unfortunately, there is no way to accurately account for stream-per-dollar-spent, and since all the numbers from Spotify, etc. are reported on a delayed basis, I came up with a formula to extrapolate my streams and earnings through the end of the year based on the data I do have.

I make no apology for my nerdery.

In short, I wracked up 98,870 streams for the year. 59,573 of these were from another artist’s catalogue - a song I cowrote and of which I own 33% - but I am including those numbers because they impact the end-of-year bottom line. And that is as follows:

Those 98,870 streams, based on a per-stream average of $0.0033 (I’ll spare you the math on this one - just know that I did calculate this number based on my data) earned me a total of $195.53.

In short (TL;DR version) I spent $1,085.81 and earned $195.53 in return, for a total LOSS of $890.28.

I know, gross.

Getting your money back immediately from any one of these services should not be the goal.

But What Does It All Mean, Basil?

Well, Playlist Push definitely gave me the best results, but it was also, far and away, the most expensive. Conversely, while SubmitHub didn’t result in as many streams, it did help me to cultivate the most relationships. By my third and fourth submissions, I already had curators I could count on for good feedback and an all-but-guaranteed add because they liked me and my music.

If I could distill the results of this year-long experiment into one sentence, it would be this: playlist promotion is not a one-for-one return on investment, but then again it’s not meant to be. It’s just that, an investment. And it is an investment that should be part of a greater, well-executed release strategy.

Getting your money back immediately from any one of these services should not be the goal.

In fact, as far as playlisting is concerned, it’s not the number of streams you get that matters, it’s how quickly you get them. Because if you can execute a playlisting strategy effectively and garner a bunch of streams all at one time, you can trip the “Discover Weekly” algorithm on Spotify, whereby they will deliver your song into the ears of people who have already shown an interest in similar songs, and that’s when you can really start to build a fan base.

Which leads me to my last point…

The Goal Is To Build a Fanbase

It’s not about the numbers, and it’s not about the revenue, it’s about the fans.

*lights joint* “... and it’s about the music, bro.”

But seriously though, it’s true.

None of this is a get-rich-quick scheme, and none of it works if you’re not out to build actual, tangible relationships with real people who love your music for an extended period of time. That’s the only way to create a return on your investment.

And absolutely nothing will replace interaction on a personal level - shows, live streams, DMs, Twitter threads, etc. You have got to be fan-focused and people-oriented for this to work. The playlisting path can only be in support of that.

So if you have the money, spend it to trip that “Discover Weekly” algorithm, but make sure you double down on that exposure by pursuing growth in other areas at the same time. Create and implement a multi-faceted release strategy and adjust it as you go. Figure out what works and keep refining it.

I wish you the best of luck with your next release.

Want to to try Playlist Push for yourself, use the code: XTXL33Z and get 7.5% off your first campaign. Or you can sign up here.

Are you a playlist curator? Sign up for Playlist Push here and start earning money to review music for your playlist.

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