I paid for Spotify playlist placements so you don’t have to

As part of my ongoing mission to throw money into thin air I decided to promote some of Corserine‘s songs on Spotify.

Objectives: increase monthly streams on my Spotify artist page so I can get picked up by Spotify algorithms better. Which in turn means I get on even bigger playlists which in turn means….er… profit?

Did it work?
Yes, but with massive caveats. I got onto lots of playlists and my monthly Spotify plays went from under 10 to over 2,000. I have yet to be picked up by the big Spotify algorithms though.

Getting your music onto playlists

There are folks on Fiverr who will get your music onto 1934828 playlists for $$$ but I didn’t choose this route as I feared they were crazy high risk.

I used three pitching services: Soundcampaign, Groover and Submithub.

The differences in the pitching services

Groover and Submithub work much the same way: you pay about $2 or $3 to submit to an individual playlist curator. Soundcampaign works very differently: you select a genre(s) and declare a budget and the system comes up with a shortlist of curators for you which it then sends your track. But it’s much more expensive at about $9 per submission. You cannot target individual playlists with Soundcampaign which makes for a ‘lucky dip’ experience (which I actually quite enjoyed truth be told).

A word also needs to be said that Submithub and Groover appear to use the same types of curators as I recognised some names on both platforms. Submithub is incredibly competitive as the number of artists vastly outnumbers curators. This is why approval rates are lower on these types of service.

Relative success on each platform
I submitted the same track 10 times to Submithub, Groover and Soundcampaign:

Results

The cost per stream is my key metric and for that we observe Soundcampaign is the clear winner.

How many streams you get depends on a few things

  1. How many likes the playlist has. More likes means you’ll get more streams
  2. How many songs the playlist has. The more songs means you’ll get less streams
  3. Your position in the playlist. The nearer number 1 you get means more streams
  4. How long you’re on the playlist for. The longer the better. On this note, look out for warning signs your targeted playlist is transient. You’ll see this under the date added column:

This is a red flag. Avoid these playlists.

Some playlists tick all the boxes and some tick none

On Submithub an approval went into a playlist which had over 2000 songs and 44 likes. I went in at position 200+ for only a few days. That playlist referred zero. The caveat here is that some approvals on Submithub are called ‘Shout-outs’ and they are like the curator saying “we really liked your track but we have no more room on our main playlist” or somesuch – a bit like baby Jesus. So you need to watch out for that. All my Submithub approvals were ‘shoutouts’.

On Groover one of the approvals never got added to a playlist. So again, that playlist referred zero.

An approval on Soundcampaign went in at position 50 of a 50 track playlist and was removed a day later. That referred 17 streams.

My best success came with a playlist that had 69k likes and I went in at number 2. This was referring 100 streams per day.

Important update March 14 >>>>>>>>>>>>
I ran another song on Soundcampaign and this time the results are depressingly different:

Launched: Feb 21 2021
Cost: $159
Total streams to date: 290
Cost per stream: $0.55

The reason I’m updating the blog post is because of the 7 playlists the track was accepted, thesong has since been removed from 4. Of the other 3, only one has referred any streams yet (3 Streams FML).

To add hilarity, one playlist not only referred zero streams but has since removed the track too! Utterly fuck all use.

So I’d steer a wide berth round Soundcampaign; you just can’t trust the integrity of the playlisters.

The elephant in the room

For all these streams the end goal is more followers and at the very least some ‘saves’ of your track. I can’t pick apart all the data because I don’t have access to it all on Spotify. What I can say is that the big playlist of 69k likes and 100 streams per day I mentioned earlier has unusually poor user retention (23 saves for another song I was promoting) which complicates things yet further: is this a robot playlist I was added to?


In general I observed the ‘save to listener’ rate at around 5-10% which is what seems to be the consensus.

And the number of followers I picked up? Maybe 10.

Key finding
Paying for Spotify playlist promotion does not relate to an increase in followers. Do not use it if this is your goal.

——

Record labels
During my research I also ran into a few record labels. One playlist curator ran a label and liked my track. This is a contact I will use in future. Through Groover and Submithub I would sometimes pitch to labels. Often times I would get no response but sometimes they expressed an interest in hearing more. If this happens to you, have solid back up tracks to send them. Don’t link to your generic Spotify account like I did. But whatever, these responses are more contacts for you.

I also ran into a few labels on my travels on Submithubs Hot or Not feature. More on that later.

Pitching to blogs
I pitched to a number of blogs on Submithub and got approved by none. I find blogs very competitive and running a blog myself know that the blog has to be a really big hitter for your track to gain some traction. I expect this post to comfortably hit a few thousand views FYI and its these kind of numbers your post needs.

Pitching to Instagram influencers
I pitched to a number of influencers of Submithub. If you’re approved, your track will go up as background music to some post about whatever narcissistic nonsense about makeup or how amazing they are. Or as I found out, it won’t go up at all and the influencer is pulling a fast one. Avoid.

In praise of Submithub and its Hot or Not feature
For all the competitiveness Submithub has a really nice social component to it. A chat feature lets you share salty tears of despair with other artists and a Hot Or Not function is quite a good way of getting objective feedback on your tracks so you can refine them further.

If you use the Hot Or Not function be prepared for a lot of potentially hurtful comments as the feedback is often anonymous (with thanks to the Submithub community for some of these):

This track was OK until Elmo showed up

Really bad, you need to learn basic rules of making music mate 

This track reminds me of Kings of Leon. I hate Kings of Leon

Just horrible

So fair warning. But it’s also a way of forging new contacts since some reviewers let you get in touch with them. I’ve gained a few followers this way.

Another tangential benefit of the Hot or Not function are interactions with labels. Often times you’ll see a label favourably reviewing your track. And sometimes a label will flat out ask you for a track they like (before saying yes, make sure you’re happy with what they offer).

The Hot or Not function also has a chart where the best in the website are listed. I’ve had a track go top 5 before but I wouldn’t hang your coat on it as nothing happened: no labels knocking on my door, no world fame, not even a change in my social media stats. PS don’t try and figure out how the chart is worked out: it’s baffling. All I do know is downvotes kill any chance you have of making the charts.

La fin….

So there you have my somewhat lengthy discussion on more adventures through music promotion. If this has been an interesting read, maybe you can follow Corserine on Spotify and make this experiment a totally 360 degree recursive loop of artist promotional weirdness?

And I want to know what you thought too. Think I should focus more on forging individual contacts rather than frittering away petty cash on pointless exercises? Sure! Tell me that in the comments!

PS – Fellow Submithub member Cowboy Destroy will have the final say with this video about Barbie Dolls, erm, partying. It’s amazing!

20 comments

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  2. Mr.T

    Very interesting article! Cool that you shared.

    Which songs did you promote? I got curious and listened to your songs. 8pm Traffic has been played the most (according to Spotify) but I liked “In the name of childhood” more (added it to my favourites). It’s like a dark but upbeat bladerunneresque mood setter. I also liked Demon Seed. That’s the type of music I like listening to while I work (good for focusing). Did the playlists have any themes? I’m thinking you might get better results of you aimed your marketing efforts towards a specific target audience(?)

    • myfoodeeblog

      I aimed at a particular genre with soundcapaign but I think its still a blunt tool. I think with dedicated research into the exact playlist you need it may work

  3. Pingback: 「Spotifyのプレイリストに自分の曲を追加してもらう」サービスにお金を払ってみた結果とは? - 邪馬台内陸部メディア(yamatocore.com)
    • myfoodeeblog

      No, these playlists are carefully vetted. That was a huge concern before I started. The last thing I want is to undermine our band before it’s gone anywhere.

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  7. myfoodeeblog

    “… why care what playlists you get on? If your [sic] tunes are dope, they should speak for themselves.

    People legit equate popularity with talent now and it’s pretty embarrassing to watch people fumble over themselves to become popular when their tunes are almost assuredly shit. Amazing tunes do the leg work for you, and great producers never have to resort to dumb crap like this. Pushing turds on people is much more exhausting then simply making good tunes to begin with, I promise.

    TLDR; if you think you aren’t getting enough attention because you lack marketing skills, you’re wrong.”

    Comment: a bit binary, but she/he/it has a point: without a good tune you can do all the marketing you want to no avail.

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