How artists succeed on Spotify: 7 actionable steps for independent music creators

Streaming is like a game, and games are based on the intelligence and habits of each gamer: The question remains who is willing to learn and adapt from current trends.

Streaming promises to give artists the opportunity to build their audience. The Spotify catalog is available everywhere, all the time with a constant payout per stream. Once an artist starts making people aware of their art they start building the fundament of their musical career. The question remains if the artists are willing to make the necessary sacrifices towards becoming a full-time musician, however, the opportunity to start a successful journey exists. 

I was always focused on doing the work, and in turn, that attracted the right people.

Nowadays, the streaming game requires playlists on Spotify: they can be seen as the new mixtapes of today, or even the new radio, as they help artists and new emerging talents to get discovered. Furthermore, big Spotify editorial playlists like Rap Caviar generate thousands of streams every single minute. On the other side influencers and brands can create and grow their own playlist structures with proper branding and networking. 

For upcoming artists, the question remains: How can I get added to notable playlists if I do not know any curator? 

1. Grab your listeners attention!

Due to an increased usage of socials media, the human population gets closer to the attention span of a goldfish every single day. Your smartphone is reducing your concentration on tasks like reading this article, consuming media and also influencing your listening behavior. This leads us to the following points a musician should pay attention to:

Impact your audience within the first 20s

  • artists only get paid for the first 30s + streaming
  • the Spotify algorithm goes beyond the simple payment. Your audience listening times and interaction matters.
  • the first impression is key: Curators and streamers need to be convinced 
  • to deliver a unique flow/ do not waste time in the first crucial seconds
  • to avoid long intros/build-ups

2. short singles, long albums 

Drakes albums are filled with a bunch of short tracks and he is not alone. This strategy multiplies the per-stream revenue and leads logically to higher plays. For the independent artists, this tactic gives boosts your streaming metrics around singles, also pushing the likelihood of getting added to bigger editorial playlists curated by Spotify.

3. song lengths today

Since the human attention span keeps shrinking, people constantly being distracted, we also see the general trend of songs getting shorter in order to grab peoples attention fast + reduce the chance of a song skip:
Lil Nas X - ‘Old Town Road’ is just 1:53
Lil Pump - ‘Gucci Gang’ is 2:04 

Kodak Black’s ‘Calling My Spirit’ is 2:32.

4. use your artist tools: Spotify for Artists


The wrong usage of Spotify for Artists decreases the change of getting into the playlist game.
The number one mistake is keeping a tight, well-planned release schedule.

  • upload your tracks 4 weeks ahead (min. 7 days)
  • you track catches your followers’ Release Radar playlists only if you upload 1 week before

5. distributor relationship

  • most distributors have direct deals with Spotify
  • different opportunities may pop up through your distribution company
  • at least one person at your distributor is in contact with Spotify

 → be nice to your distributor, seek to establish a relationship

6. Spotify playlist curator relationships

Yes, you can establish a relationship. It is no guarantee, however, usual networking rules apply:

  • provide value in the first place
  • do not spam, be consistent
  • never expect anything
  • invest your time and keep brainstorming about further actions

7. Cover art

Your cover art is another way of communicating your brand towards your audience. From the audience side, it shall provide a detail that always refers back to your brand. Talking from the artists perspective it should not take too much of your time and resources. 

  • “Don’t spend $5,000 on a designer,”
  • keep a key element in every cover
  • reflect on each creation process and learn from it.

In the next series, I would like to give more tips for employing proper strategies for your music careers.

Good Vibes from Germany 

“discover inspire accelerate”

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