Getting Playlisted

Back in the day, radio airplay was the key to success in the music business. If you ever hoped to make it to the cover of the Rolling Stone, you first needed to get on radio station playlists. In 2019, the playlists are all online. Spotify, Soundcloud, Tidal, iTunes, Deezer, etc…. they are the new radio.

A primary goal for every indie artist promoting music online is to be added to playlists, big and small. There are countless playlists hosted on all of the major online music streaming services. Getting on the right one can make a career. The most coveted placements are on the ‘Official’ editorial lists, owned and operated by the music services themselves. They have millions of listeners. Spots on those lists are hard to come by, though. If you watch the lists, you’ll notice that nearly all of the ‘indie’ artists on them are actually signed to major record labels, or to smaller subsidiary labels owned by the majors.

That is not accidental of course. Although the music industry has changed dramatically over the past ten years, the majors still have all the money. I used to work in market research and promotion for the music industry, in the early 2000’s. Our clients included the five biggest major labels. Back then, they didn’t get it. They viewed online music as something to fear. They even went so far as to arrest college kids for using Napster. They were prosecuting their customers. It was not a great business model.

The majors finally caught up to the rest of the world. Now they invest millions in online streaming services. Their money carries a lot of weight with online music companies, and they throw that weight around when it comes to song placement. Hence the not-so-indie ‘indie’ playlists.

There are options for the little guy, however. Many of the online services are offering windows of opportunity to independent artists. Spotify, for instance, offers their Spotify for Artists service in which indies can submit new releases for playlist consideration. SoundCloud is offering a similar services to its Premium customers.

Even so, the really big lists remain mostly untouchable. Fortunately they are outnumbered by millions of smaller independent lists, some of which have thousands of listeners. There are services dedicated to connecting artists to these independent curators. Soundplate is a personal favorite. I use it as both an artist and as a curator (see inset). I like their service because it is free for artists, and it encourages communication and collaboration. Soundplate is a neat site. They have some other cool services I use frequently, like their track analyzer.

Submithub is probably the best known playlist and blog submission site. It has a great interface and definitely works. It’s not free, but it is pretty cheap. If you use their search tool properly you can find the right playlist for your music. I’ve had some success their as well, after a bit of trial and error. When I first signed up I blasted every big blog and playlist that even remotely matched my style. My tunes fell on deaf ears. I started getting placements when I looked realistically for the niche lists on which my weird music fit.

Finally, make some friends! I have had a lot of fun getting to know other musicians and fans around the world. In the process we have helped each other out. For instance, Martina is a very nice young lady in Germany who routinely ads my music to here very cool SoundCloud playlists. Check her lists out.

Anyway… that’s where I am at with playlisting. I am by no means an expert and I am definitely open to suggestions. Leave some comments! Maybe we can help each other out.

One option artists have is to start their own playlists. This gives them an opportunity to promote themselves through promoting others. I am a big fan of this sort of cross-pollination. Case in point…

Deep Indie Chill playlist on Spotify
Downtempo, Ambient, Triphop, Chillhop, and otherwise mellow tunes by Indie artists from around the world.

You can submit your music to Deep Indie Chill here

Deep Indie Dive Playlist on Spotify
Indie Rock, Pop, Hip-hop, Folk, Noise, Punk, and anything in between. I find Indie stuff I dig, and I put some of it here.

You can submit your music to Deep Indie Dive here