Spotify 2
Personal development

Decoding Spotify

The Streaming gates of...

by Jimmy Bartolo 16 Sep 2016

Understanding Spotify

Alright, brace yourselves, and here we go! The number of artists out there that are opposed to the streaming service is impeccable and the oddest thing is that hardly any of them know how to use these platforms properly to their advantage. The debate on how much Spotify pays in royalties is constantly at the top of What to Bitch About in 2016 because, well, Taylor Swift y’know? It’s as if independent musicians are incapable of earning any other income from other sources. Don’t get me wrong, I do also agree that it is a small amount and there surely is room for better rates but who cares? Music has so many open doors in which to earn a living from playing live shows to publishing deals; streaming is just another contribution.

Why should I be on Spotify?

First and foremost, as an independent artist you absolutely cannot afford to miss out on trending mediums when it comes to releasing your music. Vinyls, cassettes, CDs, streaming. It’s all part of the process and in time something new will surface itself into pop culture which we will again adapt to its system. Circle of life.

Second of all, Spotify has 39 million paying subscribers! Even if you had to attract the attention of just 0.1% that would mean 39,000 new listeners. Pretty big huh? And those are just the paying subscribers! 

As a Spotify account holder, allow me to give you a bit of a perspective on how it works for a consumer in example form. I’ve always known about the band Spiritualized. I had known about their iconic album Ladies and Gentlemen We Are Floating in Space, listened to it a few times on YouTube, loved it, but that was that. With Spotify, I’ve been able to listen to their whole catalog endlessly and anywhere. It’s safe to say that I’m now obsessed; not to mention worrying my girlfriend with the amount of times one person can play Do it Again in a day. 

In other words, make an effort to understand your consumer, especially if you want to sell them something.

Spotify is not your main man

Cheques from Spotify are small, we all know that. If you were relying only on Spotify for your only income then yes, you’d have a problem. But you’re not (at least I hope not). You’re playing shows, selling merchandise, collaborating, hustling to get that publishing deal you’ve been after, you name it. So why stream? Remember the amount of users? Those are all potential attendees at your next show, buyer of your band’s t-shirt and subscriber to your mailing list—you just have to let them become fans. Stop making it difficult for people to listen to your music. Think of it as an ad on the side of the road. With so many commuters driving by everyday, some are bound to check out your product further and the busier the highway, the more potential paying customers.

Artists are more than happy to put their music online for free but are weary about getting it released on Spotify for the sole reason that people can listen to it offline whenever they want. That’s precisely why you should have it on there! Endless streaming of your music means fans are way more likely to become familiar with your songs eventually turning into super fans.

Promoting your shows

Now let’s move onto the next and my favorite part of what Spotify has to offer. As an artist you can have every single one of your upcoming shows delivered to each and every one of your followers or users that have shown interest in your music. And to be more specific, it’s all based on the user’s and the show's locations. It’s like wherever you are in the world, a collection of personal gig invites in your area is awaiting you by collaborating with your music library. Very tempting indeed!

So how do you get discovered on Spotify?

So how does one get discovered on a platform with so much traffic to offer? What you want is to be suggested to more listeners who dig your type of music and the most effective way of that happening is to be featured on playlists. Just like any other social media network out there, Spotify recognizes what’s worth suggesting based on popularity, your favorite genres and similar artists. Featuring your music on subscribed playlists is how you get up in their ranks.

Everyone’s making playlists. Bloggers, brands, poets, radio stations, grandmothers, other bands, even you! It’s super simple and very easy to use which is why you need to be featured on them. Whether you are an Americana singer/songwriter, rap artist or rock band, there are playlists made for you to contact. But remember, the bigger the playlist the harder it will be to get featured so work on your delivery carefully. Don’t spam! Do your research and above all, be human. A message like ’Hey my album is dope so put me on your playlist biatch’ isn’t gonna cut it. Think of it as another collaboration. Introduce yourself with a polite comment on why their playlist is awesome, create a connection, then inquire about the possibility of having your music on there. You’ll learn a lot from asking correctly and the more you do it, the more your game will improve.

Hello Spotify

So there you go, I hope this helped open the streaming gates a little for you and as I said earlier, things are always changing and the music industry is no exception. This is why we must be able to understand and respect the way fans choose to listen to our music today and eventually, tomorrow. Hold back that fear and get onboard the next big thing. Remember, it’s how you utilize these platforms that will help transform you from a starving musician to a full time artist. Every platform has a language, all you have to do is learn it.

As a great artist once said: Que será, Quesadilla.


Jimmy Bartolo

Jimmy is Kwaver’s Music Community Evangalist. He juggles between fretboard and keyboard and is the one reaching out to our users whether to improve our app or for a quick jam.


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