Many blog articles and online resources are aimed at music creators who are promoting new releases. But there are good reasons to promote your back catalog on Spotify too. While your previously-released material won’t qualify for influential playlists like New Music Friday, you can still leverage your existing content on Spotify with a well-planned campaign.
Back catalog campaigns are relatively easy to implement; they tend to be more flexible in terms of timing, with fewer items to oversee (no uploads to coordinate, less activity required on social media, etc.) Independent playlist curators are also typically much more receptive than music bloggers and music journalists when it comes to listening to older releases.
If you’re planning to release new music within the next year, a back catalog campaign can increase the impact of your future releases by increasing your overall audience size on Spotify. This makes it much easier to gain traction with your new material through algorithmic playlists like Release Radar, as well as through the existing relationships you’ve built with curators.
The First and Most Important Step: Choose One Song!
Playlist curators typically only want to hear one song. Therefore, choose a song from your catalog that you feel has a strong chance of being added to playlists. Log into Spotify for Artists and review your current catalog – are there any tracks that are getting significantly more streams than others? Have these tracks already been added to any playlists?
- PRO TIP: You can also use tools such as Chartmetric and/or SpotOnTrack to check to see if your music has been added to any playlists.
Once you’ve chosen one song to focus on, choose a “Pitch Week” at least 3 weeks ahead. Highlight that week on your calendar and make sure you can set aside a few hours each day throughout your pitch week to focus on your release.
Now, working backwards from your pitch week, you can follow this simple campaign schedule:
3 weeks before pitch week
- Search for listener Spotify playlists that would be a good fit for your single, and start compiling a list of curators to pitch to on your release day. Most blogs, artists, indie labels, companies, etc. can be found with a Google search. Regular Spotify users are easiest to find via Facebook: do a Facebook search for the owner’s name, and scan the results to find their matching profile photo.
- Set yourself a reasonable goal of playlists to pitch – as many as you feel capable of pitching in a week. We recommend targeting at least 100 relevant playlists; more is better, as long as the playlists are a good fit. Our most successful artists typically pitch 350-500+ playlists per single.
- PRO TIP: If you’re short on time, you can use Playlist Radar to find relevant playlists and contact info.
2 weeks before pitch week
- Make sure you have a Facebook Page, a Twitter account, and an Instagram account set up for your band. (Don’t just use your personal accounts!) You don’t have to be active every single day on all these accounts, and don’t worry too much about your follower counts. Just make sure the accounts exist, and try to be active regularly on at least ONE platform.
- Make sure your Facebook Page, Twitter account, and Instagram accounts ALL have consistent graphics and photos, a brief artist bio, and (this is important) reciprocal links to each other. A huge part of promotion is just being discoverable!
- Log into your Spotify for Artists account. Make sure your Spotify profile has an up-to-date bio, photos and social links.
1 week before pitch week
- Create a SubmitHub profile and get familiar with the interface (don’t submit your song yet). Review the genre categories to decide which category your song best fits into, and use the filter function in the sidebar to only show targets that have Spotify playlists. In particular, make a note of which curators accept new songs only, and which ones are willing to listen to older tracks.
- Log into Spotify for Artists and take a snapshot of your most important metrics (monthly listeners, monthly streams, and total followers). This way, you can measure the real impact of your efforts after your campaign is over.
- Using the Spotify playlist target list you’ve already created, send a brief message to each playlist curator. Introduce yourself and ask them to consider adding your new single to their playlist. (Don’t worry about getting these all done on the same day; just aim to get through at least 20-25% of your target list each day.) For more guidance, check out our advice on how to make contact with playlist curators.
- Use SubmitHub to send your track to the most relevant playlist curators.
After pitch week
- Monitor your playlist adds using Chartmetric and/or SpotOnTrack. You can also track how many listeners and streams you get from each playlist through Spotify for Artists.
- Make sure to share any blog features or playlist adds on all your socials, and be generous with your public thank yous and shout-outs. Not only is it good karma – it can also help nudge other curators, tastemakers and potential new fans to check out your song.
After 3 or 4 weeks, log into Spotify for Artists and compare your current metrics (monthly listeners, monthly streams, and total followers) with the snapshot you took before your campaign. With luck, you’ll start to see a significant improvement in the performance of your track(s). You can then repeat this process for any other tracks you feel might benefit from a post-release campaign.
For your next release, plan ahead with a simple 4-week online campaign to get even more traction for your song!