An indie artist’s essential guide to Spotify

Getting your music on Spotify is a rite of passage for musicians in the modern era.

And that’s not a bad thing. Music distribution used to be a difficult task, but now all you need for your music to be accessible to the masses is a decent internet connection and a DistroKid subscription.

But it’s not enough to simply put your music on Spotify and call it a day. It’s important to understand how Spotify works, how you can optimize your profile, different ways to promote your music on Spotify and different ways to use the data Spotify gives you. In this article, we’ll tell you everything you need to know for your best chance at Spotify success.

Why get on Spotify as an artist?

Spotify is a popular music streaming service, sure—but as an indie artist, your time, money, and self-promotional resources are still finite. That means you have to make sure that anything you do to promote yourself and your music is worth it for you.

Why exactly should you spend your time and money getting your music on Spotify, optimizing your Spotify profile, and promoting your music there?

Reach more listeners

Spotify boasts over 365 million active monthly users in 178 markets worldwide as of June 2021. A YouGov survey showed that 27% of adults in the United States use Spotify, including 45% of the valuable 18-34 year old demographic.

In other words, people who listen to music listen through Spotify. If your music isn’t on Spotify, almost half of Americans (especially the ones who go to the most indie shows each year) are going to struggle to find your music on their preferred streaming service.

Get featured on curated and algorithmic playlists

One of Spotify’s biggest benefits to indie artists is its music discovery features. That includes its curated and algorithmic playlists. These playlists can get your music in front of thousands of new fans and can catapult your career.

But the most valuable editorial playlists are extremely competitive and you have to plan in advance if you want a shot at landing one of those coveted placements.

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Spotify playlists can get your music in front of thousands of new listeners. Image via NPR on Spotify.

Check out our full article on how to get your music featured on Spotify playlists for the full rundown.

Add a new revenue stream

How much does Spotify pay per stream? It’s a question Spotify doesn’t give an exact answer for—instead they claim a range of $0.003 and $0.0084 per stream, but you should be able to see an exact breakdown from your digital distributor (for example, DistroKid).

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DistroKid reporting can give you a granular look into the actual revenue made per stream on Spotify, which varies per market, per artist, and per month. Image via Emily Harris.

Obviously, that’s not a lot of money. It’s fractions of a penny per stream, so at $0.004 per stream as an average payout, you would need 250 streams to make a single dollar and 1,750 streams to make the same amount of money you’d make selling a record on Apple music—about $7. Still, it’s incremental revenue that can add up over time.

Learn more about your audience

In addition to finding new fans, you can learn more about your overall audience and more based on the information available to you in the Spotify Artist portal.

Before Spotify, record labels had focus groups to choose the next singles for albums. Motown famously wouldn’t release a single unless a focus group said they’d actively call radio stations to request a song be played.

With Spotify’s streaming data, you can see exactly which songs are being listened to. That makes it a lot easier to pick next singles, craft setlists, pitch sync licenses, and more. You can also view data on the popularity of your different releases, and even see which playlists your music is featured on. Yes, you can even see the names of the playlists (sorry in advance for everyone who’s ever made a playlist with an embarrassing name).

Arguably more important than streaming data is audience data. Spotify will tell you what countries and cities are housing your biggest fans. You might not be surprised that your hometown has a lot of fans, but you might be bigger in Japan, Argentina, or Norway than you’d expect.

This data can be hugely helpful when it’s time to route your tour. Let’s say you want to plan a tour on the west coast. Normally you might just plan on hitting the big cities: Vancouver, B.C., Seattle, WA, Portland, OR, San Francisco, CA, and Los Angeles, CA.

But your Spotify data might show you that your biggest fans are actually located in Bellingham, WA, Tacoma, WA, Eugene, OR, Sacramento, CA, and San Diego, CA. If you were planning your tour around the biggest cities instead of where your fans actually are, you might have missed out on a lot of ticket sales—and, more importantly, a big opportunity to connect with your fans.

Additionally, you can see a gender breakdown of your fans (including non-binary and not specified), ages and gender, and who else your fans are listening to—the later of which is helpful for booking shows and tours.

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How to get on Spotify as an artist

To get your music on Spotify, you need to work with a digital distributor like DistroKid, Tunecore, or CD Baby. Unfortunately, you currently cannot upload your music to Spotify without using one of these paid services.

The good news is, these services come with a lot of other great tools. For example, DistroKid makes it simple to verify your Spotify account, create promotional materials for your music, protect your music, and more.

In addition to uploading your music to Spotify using a digital distributor, you’ll want to create a Spotify Artist account. Your Spotify Artist account will allow you to customize your artist profile, access analytics data, pitch upcoming music to editorial playlists, read helpful articles about trends in music creation and promotion, add team members, and more.

Adding team members is a great idea for bands with multiple members, labels, managers, PR, or other team members who need to access their Spotify Artist account. That way, you don’t have to spread around a single login and password to multiple people.

What should you add to your artist profile on Spotify?

While you can upload your music to Spotify and call it a day, you’d be leaving a lot of opportunities to show potential fans who you are and what you’re about on the table. From pictures to playlists, you can customize a wide range of elements of your Spotify artist profile from your Spotify Artist account. Here are a few things to focus on.

Images

Other than adding new music, updating your images is the most visible way of keeping your artist profile fresh. Instead of adding all of your best photos at once, start with 5-8 and rotate through new ones every 2-3 months. Make sure any photos you upload are at least at least 690px by 500px and avoid including any logos or text in your images as Spotify doesn’t allow them.

Fresh bio

Your Spotify musician biography should be around 300 words, and should be updated for new projects, milestones, or even when you have some stellar new press write-ups you want to feature.

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Haim’s Spotify bio is a little on the long side but takes advantage of Spotify’s tagging feature to shout-out some of their early collaborations. Image via Spotify and Haim.

You can even use @tags link to specific artists, albums, or tracks on Spotify in your bio, which appears at the bottom of your artist page.

Fundraising pick

Beginning in 2020 Spotify began to let artists add a fundraising choice to their artist profiles. Artists could choose if they wanted a direct fundraising option (your PayPal account, for example) or to ask fans to support a vetted cause like MusiCares.

Upcoming concerts

You can feature all of your upcoming concerts with the click of a button by integrating your Songkick and Spotify accounts. After you connect the two, any show dates you add on Songkick will be automatically added to your Spotify profile.

Playlists

Wait, don’t you want to end up on other people’s playlists? While ultimately that’s the goal, you should create your own as well. Some artists with deep discographies make playlists that serve as a greatest hits compilation for potential new fans, while other artists use playlists as a community building exercise. Whatever your motivation, you can build and feature your own playlists on your official artist profile.

Social links

Currently, Spotify allows you to add links for your Facebook, Instagram, Twitter, Wikipedia, and SoundBetter accounts. No word on when support will be added for other popular services like TikTok. Social links are only visible once someone expands your biography, so they’re not particularly visible anyway.

Bonus: Artist Pick

Do you have a specific show or playlist you want featured at the top of your artist page? That’s called the artist pick, and you should choose wisely! Many artists choose to feature an upcoming show, but Phoebe Bridgers opted for a colorfully-titled playlist.

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Your “Artist pick” can be a playlist or concert date of your choosing. Phoebe Bridgers picked a playlist of her songs, including many of her collaborations. Image via Phoebe Bridgers and Spotify.

How can you grow your followers on Spotify?

One of your big goals on Spotify is to get more listeners and, specifically, followers.

Followers are important because they’ll get notifications about new music, tour dates, and more. Plus, having more followers might make you more likely to show up on algorithmic playlists and may make you more appealing to number-crunchers in the music industry.

So how do you convince people to follow your music on Spotify? The answer: through some good old-fashioned promotion.

Promote on social

It might seem a little obvious, but your fans who already follow you on one social platform might be willing to follow you on another. Chances are, they’re already listening to you on Spotify, so dropping in a reminder to hit the “follow” button on Spotify as well will likely drive follows each time you do it.

Promote in email campaigns

The people who have subscribed to your email list are your biggest fans. Social fans might be casual listeners, but email subscribers have probably either purchased something from your online store, given you their email address at a show, put in their email address in exchange for early access to your newest single, or something similar. If anyone wants to support you with a Spotify follow, it’s them.

We recommend sending a dedicated broadcast to promote your Spotify page letting your fans know that it can help boost your discoverability. You can even embed Spotify streaming links directly into your broadcasts!

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Embedding Spotifying links in your ConvertKit broadcasts is as easy as copy/paste.

If you remind your fans that following you on Spotify is a completely free way to show their support, a lot of them will probably do the favor of giving you that follow. And, after all, they’re fans—they want to get those notifications, we promise.

You shouldn’t stop at a single broadcast. ConvertKit gives you the ability to set up automations in ConvertKit to build your Spotify followers and other social platforms. One example would be setting up a welcome email campaign so that whenever someone subscribes to your email list they automatically get an email encouraging them to follow you on Spotify, Twitter, Facebook, Instagram, and more.

Finally, you can add a call-to-action encouraging email subscribers to follow you on Spotify in each and every broadcast you send out. All you have to do is build that CTA into your go-to email template and it will be there for subscribers old and new to see and click. You might even consider adding a Spotify icon to your footer alongside your social icons.

Include a follow button on your website

If you have a band website, you can encourage your site visitors to follow you on Spotify by embedding a Spotify player or even just a Spotify follow button on your site.

To add the Spotify player, go to your artist profile and click the three dots next to “follow” or “following” and select “share” and “embed artist.” From there, you’ll be able to customize the embedded player and copy the code that you can paste into your website. You won’t be able to pick the songs, though—Spotify will automatically choose your most popular songs for the player.

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A Spotify player on your website can drive streams and Spotify followers. Image via Sundae Crush and Spotify.

If you just want a follow button, you need to know your Spotify artist URI. You can find your URI through your digital distributor. Then, you copy and paste the code found at this link, subbing out Carly Rae Jepsen’s URI for your own.

Spotify: A new tool for musicians

Though Spotify has caught a lot of flack for its low artist payments, it has a lot to offer indie artists who are looking to expand their audiences. If you’re able to spend some time working on your profile and promoting it, you might find success growing your audience, garnering some extra income, and collecting some data on how people are listening to your music.

The post An indie artist’s essential guide to Spotify appeared first on ConvertKit.

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