Curating your own Spotify playlists and what good can it bring you
With the Spotify game revolving pretty much around having your music placed in playlists, it seems like a pretty good idea for a music producer to curate at least one public playlist on his own. But maybe you're thinking, why to spend precious time on curating playlists and investing a LOTS of time into growing it from scratch when there is already a ton of them with thousands of followers you can just submit your beats to.
If you're really asking yourself that question tho, you're probably seeing the playlists only as a tool for getting more streams for your tunes, and that's a HUGE underestimation of what curating your own playlists can actually bring you. If you approach it in a smart, strategic way, you'll be granted with much more than just having an independent source of streams for your tunes and I guarantee you that you won't regret that time invested a single bit!
But first, let's just make one thing crystal clear. By curating your own public playlist, I do actually mean having the playlist opened for submissions, otherwise, it will be pretty much just about streams again, without all the bonuses this blog post is all about. And if you're already stressed by the image of being overwhelmed by the number of messages in your inbox, I'll just point out one thing for you - worry not, it's only up to you how do you choose to accept them - for example, you can specify just one week out of the whole month when people can submit, which will nicely limit the number of submissions and the time needed to go through them.
Anyway, let's get to the hot stuff, won't we? So, why is curating your own playlist so good?
You will be helpful to the community
Being a part of a like-minded community is a vital part of your artistic existence. Especially when you're just beginning to release your first beats, nobody really gives a fuck about your Soundcloud links you share on Facebook, but when you're in the right community, it can make a big difference. And what's even better than being just "a part" of a community is being a helpful person that creates some real value for the other members - that in fact brings some kind of further recognition which definitely comes in handy when you need people to notice (and listen to) your music. And curating playlist certainly is indeed a very helpful thing!
You won't have to reach out to people anymore - they will reach out to you instead
If you're like me, feeling always a bit awkward when about to hit up somebody I've never talked to before with a private message (which gets the more awkward for me the more I admire that person), this one will make your life so much easier. With opening submissions for your playlist(s), the contacts will magically start flowing your way all by themselves, and not just music producers - sometimes you'll get a message from a label executive or other playlist owner, too! This way it's so much more painless for me, being the person who is being reached instead of being the person who is reaching out to somebody else.
You can build great relationships
One of the best things I like about curating my own playlists is that during the submission process, you can build some really nice relationships with other producers. And even though that's not exactly your target audience (in a business way of thinking, producers are not the people you want to sell your music to), it can get to the point when you have quite a nice network of people who want to support you because you are investing your time in them by listening to their music and eventually helping them to get more streams and more listeners. The concept of reciprocity really works here alone, but if you want to, you can build some really great relationships, and to be honest, the music industry is all about relationships.
However, there is a downside to this approach - this is only possible when you're getting a reasonable amount of submissions, as answering everybody increases the time it will take you. Once you start getting too many submissions, it will become impossible to answer all the people and if you will want to continue on being able to answer, you'll have to limit the amount of incoming submission or choose wisely who to answer and who not. But again - the time invested will get you some great things in return.
Your playlists will grow much faster
With more people getting on your playlists, more people will be also sharing them. Growing your playlists all by yourself is a tedious, time-consuming task that requires a lot of work and dedication, and having other people sharing them means a tremendous help, as you will reach a much broader audience than you could reach just by yourself. However, it's a good idea to mention the sharing when replying, explicitly asking recipients to do it - this will cause that almost no-one forgets to happily share the playlist to help it grow and attract more people (and everybody wins that way, ha!).
You can build a contact list
This is another great bonus curating your playlist can bring you, and this one works even without the need of answering to every submission. If you use email as a designed way for receiving submissions, you can actually take all those email addresses you get from the senders of the submissions and put them into an excel spreadsheet. Then, you can use those addresses for sending your contacts updates not just about the playlists themselves, but pretty much about anything that's worth it - when your new EP comes out, when you release your own sample pack, when you publish a blog post on your website, when you finally set up a store with your merchandise... Just remember - don't overdo it, moderation is the key. If you're sending too many emails, it will soon get just annoying and spammy for everybody involved. Also, always give people the choice to opt-out from your email updates.
The big bonus: If you set your funnels right, you can get much more than just a contact list
The contact list is really just a tip of the iceberg, but I feel I should first briefly explain what a "funnel" in a music marketing world is. Simply put, you can imagine it as a regular funnel, where on top are all the places where people can find a link that will eventually lead them all the way to the bottom of the funnel, which represents the desired action - in your case, a person submitting their music to your playlist. The body of the funnel stands for everything in between the first interaction (person clicking a link on google for example) and the target action - so basically the process of navigating through all the places a person have to go through first to reach the goal.
But how is this related to the playlists, you ask? Well, if you want to do things in a smart way, then quite a lot. I will explain the whole thing in detail on my very own funnel, which is based on my website. The top of the funnel are in my case all the links I share over the internet, that lead either to the article where I write about opening my playlists for submissions, or directly to the website containing all the playlists with their respective submission links. So basically links in groups on Facebook (and on my fan page there), topics I create for my posts on Reddit and vice versa. Also, as I operate with a website, all those things can be actually found quite easily via the Google's search (at least if you formulate your search query in the right way), so this creates additional places where people can find my playlists. And I must not forget the Spotify itself, as people are searching for playlists there as well, and in the description, I have also links to my website. With all that being said, it's pretty clear, that the main body of my funnel is actually - my website.
On my website, I have Google Analytics code installed, which gives me great insights on how is my website performing and what are people doing there. This is one big advantage because you can get a ton of data from Google Analytics - countries people are visiting from, or even cities, age groups, gender, which are all essential things to know if you want to create targeted ads in the future. And there is much more to GA, but that's topic for some different blog post. And then there is another great thing called Facebook Pixel, which is basically another tracking code I put there and it gathers relevant data about the visitors I can then directly turn into audience group in Facebook Ad Manager by a click of a button. And all this happens just in the very first second when the person enters the website...
Then there is another part of my funnel, which is a Toneden follow gate. Everybody who wants to submit must go through a Toneden link under the chosen playlist, as my submit form is effectively hidden behind it, and what Toneden does there for me is that it makes the person follow the playlist first. It's a little forceful, but it actually works, helping the playlists effectively grow. Only after that can one proceed to the submission form itself, completing the whole process at the bottom of my funnel.
And this is actually the price you pay to smart curators when you're submitting to their playlists. It might come as a bit sneaky at first, but before you'll start thinking I'm some cold-blooded lofi villain, you have to realize one thing - almost every website you visit does this and it's basically one of the pillars of the modern online marketing.