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Pitching your music to independent playlist curators can seem intimidating. Most music creators would rather be making music, not selling. And no one likes rejection.
Fortunately, there are ways to make the whole process a lot easier. One of the most important things to keep in mind is that playlist curators are music fans too. Most independent playlist curators aren’t paid to create playlists; many do it for personal enjoyment. Assuming you’re targeting the right playlists, they probably WANT to hear the kind of music you do.
All that being said, it’s important to have a professional approach when reaching out to playlist owners. This doesn’t mean pretending to be something you’re not; you can be professional and real at the same time. Read on!
What’s the best way to contact playlist curators?
Often, curators who are open to receiving pitches will specify the contact method they prefer right in the description of their playlist. If so, use that method! Always respect the curator’s wishes when it comes to making that initial contact. Many playlist owners even create dedicated submission forms to accept playlist submissions, which makes the process convenient for both the artist and the curator.
If the curator hasn’t specified any particular contact method and there’s no submission form available, then it’s up to you to choose an appropriate contact method. Many curators connect their Spotify accounts to Facebook, and therefore expect to be pitched via Facebook Messenger. Other possible contact methods can include direct messaging via Instagram or Twitter, Snapchat, etc.
Here’s a rundown of some of the most commonly used contact methods:
- Facebook: Most users allow you to send them a message via Facebook Messenger, even if you’re not friends with them on Facebook. Be aware however that Facebook limits the number of messages you can send per 24 hour period, so be careful not to abuse this feature. (Messages you send to a Facebook Page don’t count towards this limit.)
- Instagram: Instagram also allows you to send private messages to users via their Direct Messaging function. You can also use Instagram’s web interface to send messages directly from your computer (assuming that’s more convenient for you). Once again however, be careful not to abuse this feature, as Instagram also limits the number of messages you can send per 24 hour period.
- Twitter: Some Twitter account holders customize their Direct Messaging settings to accept messages from people they don’t follow. If you can’t DM someone on Twitter, try following them first (they may accept DMs from followers). If you still can’t DM them, you can wait a few days to see if they follow you back. Alternately, you can send them a public @ tweet.
- Other social media: Platforms such as SoundCloud, Mixcloud, LastFM, and Reddit all have private messaging functions. You’ll need a user account on these platforms in order to access private messaging, so it’s a good idea to create accounts for your band on all of these platforms.
- Email: It’s easy to get lost in someone’s inbox, so think twice before using email – unless of course the curator has specifically requested you use that method! In that case, include words like “music submission” in the subject line of your email so the recipient knows right away what to expect.
- PRO TIP: If you’re sending out more than a couple emails, include the playlist name in the subject line (e.g. “Music submission for your Sunday Morning Chillout playlist on Spotify”). Because email clients like Gmail group message threads together by subject line, this ensures any replies to your email don’t get mixed up with other replies.
- OBVIOUS DISCLAIMER: Don’t send out mass emails to curators, and DON’T SPAM. Send polite, personalized email inquiries ONLY.
- Website contact forms: Many companies and brands provide contact forms on their website. You can treat these essentially the same way as email (see above).
- Submission platforms: Some curators will request that you contact them via a paid submission platform such as SubmitHub or Groover. While it might seem annoying to pay, a well-targetted campaign can be a worthwhile investment. Additionally, reputable submission platforms like SubmitHub and Groover provide a guarantee that the curator will actually listen to and consider your music – something you don’t get when contacting curators through other methods.
- PRO TIP: When pitching to curators on submission platforms, take the time to write a personalized pitch method for each curator. Few people bother doing this, so you’ll immediately stand out!
Choose ONE contact method only – don’t send messages to the same curator via multiple platforms. And always try to choose the method that you think the playlist curator feels most comfortable with. Don’t just choose the method that’s easiest for you!
What should I say when pitching to a curator?
The best strategy is to be brief, be personal, be clear, and be yourself.
- Be brief: The vast majority of playlist curators DON’T want to read your lengthy press release or life story. A brief introduction (“Hi, I’m a singer-songwriter from Ohio”) is all you really need. Try to keep your entire message to no more than 50-75 words.
- Be personal: Do you respond well to boilerplate form letters? Neither do playlist curators! Take the time to personalize your message to the person you’re contacting. Generic pitches like “Check out my new track!” just come across as lazy.
- Be clear: Be clear about what you want – and specify which playlist you’re pitching! Remember that many curators own several playlists, so “Please consider my song for your playlist” might not cut it.
- Be yourself: Above all, make sure you’re being authentic. Write as naturally as you can while still being understood. Don’t pretend to be a manager or publicist; just be you. Remember that playlist curators are real people, just like you. As music fans, they already appreciate the work that artists do, so just be honest about who you are and what you’re trying to achieve.
How many tracks should I send them?
In your initial message, include the Spotify link to ONE track only. That’s right. JUST ONE.
Don’t send them the link to an entire album or to your Spotify profile. Most curators won’t take the time to click through and listen to more than one track. If they like the track you send to them, they can easily check out the rest of your catalog on Spotify.
What kind of response will I get?
You’ll either get a positive response, a negative response, or no response at all. Let’s break it down:
- Positive response: Ideally the playlist owner loves your song, adds it to their playlist, and then writes back to you let you know. Yay! ? Some playlist owners will simply say “Thanks, I’ll check it out!” Thank them in return, and then give them lots of time. You can follow up with them later if you want to, but only if it feels right. Don’t be pushy!
- PRO TIP: Remember to treat every curator as a potential new fan. Be prepared to reply quickly if you get a response, especially on platforms like Facebook Messenger where people expect immediate responses. If you can strike up a conversation, even better!
- Negative response: In our experience, this rarely happens. Curators who don’t like your music usually won’t bother replying. Occasionally you may receive a polite “Thanks, but it’s not the right fit for my playlist” response. Don’t take it personally! Thank them for taking the time to listen to your song. If they seem friendly overall and the vibe feels right, you can ask them if it’s okay for you to send them more songs in the future.
- No response: Most of the time, you’ll get no response. This is normal! People are busy, or they might not see your message, or they might be taking a break from Facebook (or whichever platform you’re using to contact them). Some playlist owners will add you to their playlist and not bother replying to your message. This is normal too.
While most of your replies will come in within the first 48 hours, some take a lot longer. It’s not unusual to receive replies months later. (We’ve even seen some replies take a year or more!)
If the playlist owner really loves your music, they may check your back catalog for other tracks. Don’t be surprised if you see your other songs pop up on their playlist(s). In some cases the playlist owner might not add the track you pitched, but another track from your back catalog. ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Now that you know how to send your music to independent curators, get organized with this simple 4-week campaign to make sure your next release reaches a wider audience. Good luck!