For a lot of musicians starting out and for small indie label owners, Spotify can be seen as one of those double-edged swords. Whether you see it as, the big corporation with too much control or the revolutionary tech company that has made it easy for artists to get their music to a wide audience across the world, Spotify is here to stay.
We’ve all heard about the small amounts of money that artists & indie labels receive for each stream on Spotify and a lot of people are frustrated by the low level of payment. What’s the point of being on the platform if you are making a percentage of a penny from each stream?. The good news is that things are getting better for artists. As of 31 December 2018, Spotify had 116 million ad-supported users and 96 million subscribers and it had paid out a record £8.8bn (70% of its revenue) to rights holders. So, there is money being made and the traditional split of revenue between the major labels is slowly fragmenting with small indie labels and DIY artists carving out their share of the pie.
For artists and bands starting out, Spotify is not going to pay the bills in the short term but as a promotional tool it is an important one if you want to take your music to the next level. It can be very useful for getting your music in front of new audiences and it can be used as an effective tool as part of your single, E.P or album launch plan (important tip: if you are starting out, only release singles and build a campaign around each release). The reality is, for promoters, festival bookers etc to take you seriously you will need to have a professional Spotify profile.
Similar to our previous blogs on festival applications and submitting your music to music blogs our advice is always to consider Spotify as one element as part of a wider release plan. Your release plan needs to include at its core your best songs. Before you consider putting your music out to the wider world, spend time developing your songwriting, collaborate with a quality producer and invest time in your craft. Be resilient, learn, collaborate and develop.
1. Claim your Spotify profile and upload a high-quality profile picture.
2. Include a brief but engaging bio. A lot of artists starting out do not have PR budgets so print out the bios of other acts that you view as being a few steps ahead of you in your scene. How do they word and structure their bio?. The reality is most of them have written it themselves with a PR advisor or they have a friend who is a good wordsmith. Did they get a review from a local magazine or blog? If so, send your music to that blog or magazine and get a review that you can use on your Spotify profile (refer to last weeks blog for tips on how to prepare your Electronic Press Kit.
3. The next stage is to upload one of your best songs (Don’t rush this stage. Spend time on your craft and only upload music when you have a release plan in place).
1.Reach out to friends & family
If you have little or no followers then you need to proactively work on growing this number. Once you have your new music uploaded this is a good opportunity to reach out to family, friends and social media followers with a link to your new tracks on Spotify. Be frank with them and explain that you are looking to increase your presence on Spotify and that every follower helps. If you are in a band with 4 other musicians, each of you should set a target to get 25 followers in the first few days.
2. Artist playlists and artists picks
The key priority for an artist on Spotify is to keep fans engaged and to encourage them to come back regularly to stream your music. The artist playlist feature displays to followers what you are listening to and the music that has influenced your sound. The playlist is also a good opportunity to show a bit of love to your local music scene. Share the playlist on FB, Twitter, Instagram etc and encourage the artists you tag to share it with their followers. Share this idea with other bands and get them to add you to their playlists. Collaboration is a key part of the music journey.
The artist’s pick is an album, or an individual song which can be pinned to the top of your artist profile playlist. You can use both of these tools to highlight your latest release or to just share with your fans what music has inspired your sound.
3. Gig listings & artist insights
Make sure to list your live shows through SongKick and they will automatically update on your Spotify gig listing. If you have a website, it makes sense to also use SongKick for the event listing here too so it saves you duplicating your listings (Note: The other good listing site is Bandsintown which doesn’t link to Spotify but has a good reach). The Spotify gig listing feature is one of the valuable elements of Spotify as it helps drive awareness to your followers about your upcoming shows.
The artists insights feature links nicely with the gig listing as it as it displays which cities/countries your listeners are coming from. These valuable insights will help you with tour planning.
4. Direct all social & web activity to Spotify – your call-to-action
If you are building up to your debut single, E.P or album release you will need to include your Facebook, Instagram and Twitter followers in the journey. In the weeks coming up to and after your release make sure to include a short url link to your Spotify profile, in all posts, particularly when you post on Facebook and Instagram. If you have a pro website copy the Spotify Followers button code into your site so that the call to action from your site will be for people to follow you on Spotify.