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.
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:
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
- How many likes the playlist has. More likes means you’ll get more streams
- How many songs the playlist has. The more songs means you’ll get less streams
- Your position in the playlist. The nearer number 1 you get means more streams
- 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
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.
Paying for Spotify playlist promotion does not relate to an increase in followers. Do not use it if this is your goal.
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
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.
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!
If you don’t know FEMM, they had a catchy wee song a few years ago called FXXX Boys Get Money which was loads of fun and featured the band in full-on mannequin mode. New Single ‘Level Up’ sees them ditch this ridiculous shtick (yo!) in favour of something much more normal. Thank god.
Level Up is from FEMM’s EP 404 Not Found, which you can order from our old friends at JPU Records.
Ps when you get to that page ^^^ it’s not a really a 404. Ahahahaha.
You’ll be shocked to learn it was about as much use as an ashtray on a motor cycle and no one clicked through to the full song. Although there was one strange insight where the advert had a higher than normal view retention of 50% (benchmark is 15-40% apparently). I surmised either the Google Ads algorithm is counting views incorrectly or folks hung around for the song but didn’t click through because there was no clear call to action on the advert.
Second Youtube advert
I wanted to run another version of the advert. This time with a button signposting users to the full version of the song on my Bandcamp page.
I also found a way to target the advert a bit better. Google Ads allows you to be a bit more clever with who sees the advert but it does take a bit of digging around the system:
So what happened?
I found out that viewer retention went up and now about 60% were watching 30 seconds or more of my advert:
But how many users actually clicked through to the full song on Bandcamp?
2 people. Out of the 411 views, mostly watching more than 30 seconds of the advert (allegedly), 2 people clicked through to the full song on Bandcamp. I sad.
Users really don’t want to be distracted from the video they want to watch so in-stream adverts did not help me promote my track on Youtube although it may have helped raise brand awareness given the good view retention scores.
Third Youtube advert
Armed with another huge marketing budget of around $15 and some more clue of how Google Ads worked I set off on another epic adventure to promote my soon-to-be-number-one international synthwave EDM hit.
This time I was going to choose a different song and used a different type of advert which was a discovery ad. These show up in the related content bar or search results when you’re watching your favourite EDM hyper banger:
One observation was Google Ads forces you to choose a title and subtitle for your advert, I guess to lure users into clicking it. I think this requires lots of experimentation to get just so, but I chose whatever best came to mind; “New synthwave tune” and “Brand new single”. With hindsight this was probably uber lame.
So what happened?
I would say this approach didn’t not work. I only got around 90 folks clicking through to my song over the 5 days it ran. This represented a click through rate of about 1% which is standard. Of these 90 views clicking the advert and going to my synthwave tune, I got one new Youtube subscriber and 3 likes. This is a small victory.
But it turns out Google Ads behaves in unexpected ways which might seriously trip you up if you try to take out an ad.
The first, is that for reasons between Google Ads and the Dark Lord Satan, it decided to target users unevenly:
I don’t know about you, but music played out of tablets or mobile is sucky. So I had to go away and change that so these devices were excluded.
It also skewed the keywords to synthpop music:
View retention on the third advert
I found out view retention was lame when users did finally click through to the tune:
There are two lines here: the orange line is users coming in from the advert and the blue line is organic users who found the song naturally (I think). The users coming in from the advert lost interest very quickly compared to organic users who tended to hang around (which is nice).
Even if your advert successfully drives traffic to your full song, you still only have a few seconds to capture their attention. Forget promoting your 11 minute EDM banger with a five minute white noise intro.
Here’s my key take aways:
- Google Ads is fiddly and hard to learn
- In stream ads don’t work
- Discovery ads kind of work
- The track you link to must be catchy
But what do you think? Used Google Ads? Like synthwave music? Hook me up in the comments and let me know.