How Are People Finding New Independent Music?

[Editors Note: This article was written by Rich Nardo.]

 

New music discovery is a highly personalized process. Fans of different genres tend to find music in different ways and, obviously, people of varying age and geographical demographics also tend to favor different manners of discovery. Unless you have a major label or an indie with a large budget putting out your music, it’s very difficult to cover all of your bases. Your best bet is to hone in on who is most likely to enjoy your music and focus heavily in the areas where that sort of fan is most likely to be searching for new tunes. That’s not to say, allocating some time and energy in other areas is not beneficial, but with limited resources it’s always best to be more focused on the areas where you will get the most bang for your buck.

Below are several sources people tend to tap into for music discovery:

Terrestrial Radio 

According to a 2017 Study by Larry S. Miller of the  NYU’s Steinhart Music Business Program, if your fans tends to be members of Generation Z (born after 1995), this is largely a waste of time. Due in large part to having grown up in an ‘on demand’ culture, the number of teens that tune in on their AM/FM dial dropped 50% between 2006 and 2016. As more and more new cars are coming equipped with streaming service integration (a projected 75% by 2020) and people are turning more towards “Smart Home” devices like Amazon Alexa in their households, this number is expected to decrease further unless Radio undergoes an extreme makeover.

Traditional radio campaigns tend to be very expensive and have high barriers of entry, so unless you’re an established pop star selling out arenas, putting any eggs in this basket is probably not worth the investment.

XM Radio 

Sirius XM is a weird sort of hybrid in this scenario. The barriers to entry are high (though not as high as their terrestrial counterparts), but there are a handful of bands that break nationally in large part due to XM every year. In particular, getting rotation on a station like AltNation, XMU, Octane or The Highway can really help kickstart a band. The biggest issue with XM is that, even if you find yourself in a DJ’s favor, you need to be able to show that your marketing campaign is firing on all cylinders before they’ll really jump behind a project.

If you’re at the stage in your career where your streaming numbers are high, press is coming in and you’re touring consistently at mid-sized venues, investing in a College & Specialty Radio campaign that builds towards pitching XM is worthwhile. If you’re not quite there yet, you may be better off investing more time in building your fan foundation and business model out first.

Social Media

Social Media is another unique situation, as it isn’t necessary a traditional “new music discovery” platform but is integral to success on most other platforms. Without a doubt, major streaming services, radio stations, press, venues and other industry types that can open doors for an up-and-coming artist pay attention to your social numbers. As we mentioned last month, Instagram has established innovative new ways for musicians to interact with fans and is leading the way in terms of music discovery via social media.

With Facebook’s recent algorithm shift away from business pages showing up in people’s feeds, it’s more difficult to reach people there. Still, allocating some budget to Facebook (and Instagram) advertising can help get your music in front of new ears in a highly efficient and cost effective way.

Music Blogs and Publications 

Press has always been a staple of new music discovery. The ‘gatekeepers of cool’ have been a primary resource for finding what’s coming next for decades, but we’re seeing a changing of the guards as of late. Press will always be important, but unless you’re being featured as part of a larger editorial piece, the reach of even the top outlets is starting to diminish. A few years ago, a big premiere on a press outlet like Noisey or The Fader could result in tens of thousands of plays. Today, it might only be a couple of hundred.

Most top-tier sites are altering the way they approach music coverage to respond to this fact, but I would not rely solely on getting a review in one of the most respected publications to really break you as an artist. In fact, I would wager to say that the value in press lays largely in getting quotes from tastemakers to help enhance other elements of your marketing campaign as opposed to new fan acquisition.

That being said, press is still very important and there are chances to grow your fanbase with a well run press campaign. This should be one of the first places you allocate money when it comes to music marketing.

Streaming Services, Pandora & YouTube

Not surprisingly, this is the big one. According to Variety, a recent poll of 12-24 year olds who find music discovery important, these were the three biggest resources for finding new music – YouTube (80%), Spotify (59%) and Pandora (53%). While doing something officially with any of these outlets might be hard, there are plenty of ways to still utilize their reach. Blogs, Brands and unofficial tastemakers are more approachable for streaming playlists and there are vlogs such as Suicide Sheep, Majestic Casual or MORindie that get hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of plays for their posts.

With over 78 million monthly listeners, Pandora is still the largest music streaming service in the world. Their advertising campaigns are relatively affordable and can help boost your ranking in their algorithm in a way that makes a genuine difference. As Amazon, Google and Apple all evolve their streaming services in 2018, the possibilities are only multiplying for a savvy artist who stays up to date on the world of streaming.

The Good Ol’ Fashioned Way 

The above listed outlets are all extremely important, but nothing will aid a new artist as much as good ol’ fashioned performances. Music fans are fickle these days and tend to fall out of love with songs quickly as they move on to the next big thing. Only the intimate connection of winning a fan over in a live setting can really imprint an artist enough on a group of fans to really make that adoration stick.

If you plan on building a sustainable career as a musician, get really good live and make the effort to meet fans at your shows. Those encounters and memories of your performance are what will build a long-term fanbase that evolves with you from release to release.


Rich Nardo is a freelance writer and editor, and is the Director of Public Relations and Creative at NGAGE.

Tips For Developing Your Artist or Band “Story”

[Editors Note: The following is an installment in our monthly series of a partnership between TuneCore and students at Curb College of Entertainment & Music Business at Belmont University. In an attempt to offer new insight and educational content for independent artists, we’re excited to give these music industry professionals of the future a journalistic platform.]

 

WWOD? (What Would Oprah Do?)

Oprah’s strength is listening to people’s stories. So what is your story as an artist? Ask yourself questions that tell the story of your life. Answer those questions in less than 30 seconds, drawing out the most important, impactful, and life-changing moments. How did you grow up? How did your childhood impact you? When did you start making music? Why do you make music? Does your music tell your story?

After asking yourself these questions, think of where you would like to take your music. What is your goal as a musician? What are the biggest challenges that you currently face? Try to understand why these challenges are so pressing to you as a person and figure out how they influence your artistry. The changes you make will help you further understand why you make the decisions you make, and hopefully they will push you to establish your values and what you believe is morally correct. In the long run, this development of your ‘story’ will help you stand out. Going even further, ask yourself: what makes you unique? If you’re stuck at a crossroad, to whom do you look to guide you? What are your weaknesses? What are your strengths?

Once you figure out your story, use it to augment your brand and improve your image! In the words of Oprah, “Turn your wounds into wisdom.” Use those things that you view as weaknesses to improve your image. Weakness and vulnerability make you relatable as an artist and gives your fans something to connect with.

As long as we’re mentioning celebrities, think about Taylor Swift. One thing many associate with Swift are her breakup songs. You’d better believe that her label and management know that breakups are relatable. Maybe breakups aren’t your thing, but be yourself and use your story to be relatable.

Content, Content, Content

One of the most important things you can do as an artist to boost your career is create and share social media content. You want to develop a diverse content marketing plan for all social media channels you choose to use. The content you post should follow the “80/20 Rule”: 80% entertainment or engaging, and 20% promotional. Make sure the content is interesting to your followers. Integrating pictures and videos and even time lapse effects can be very eye-catching.

Be sure to post frequently and consistently. Have your content prepared two weeks in advance and schedule your posts accordingly. This will become a lifesaver when you begin touring or are otherwise too busy.

Staying active on social media channels is essential in keeping fans engaged and informed on what’s going on in your life and in your music. These platforms are tools for artists to convey details not only about their music and careers, but also their personal lives. 

Editors note: Be sure to check out our “Social Media For Musicians: A Beginners Guide” PDF!

Here are a few quick tips to make the most of your social media:

  1. Focus on the four major platforms: Twitter, Instagram, Facebook, and YouTube. Learn these inside and out. Try to make your profile on each site resemble the professional touch of the artists you look up to, but with your own unique twist.
  2. Think about when you visit social media most often. Now, try to make sure you are posting during these high-traffic times! Frequently engage with other artists, celebrities you like, and anyone with similar interests. Consider creating a “post schedule” to make sure you are delivering quality content on a consistent basis. In the world of social media, more is more.
  3. Don’t spam! The last thing your followers want is a human advertisement. It is advised that you strike a balance between music promotion and friendly engagement. Ensure your followers know about your releases, but make them feel like genuine friends, not just fans. Follow back regularly and always say thank you when someone gives you a shout-out. These strategies will definitely increase the chances of your followers reposting your music and attending your shows.
  4. Sites like Twitter and Facebook have incredible integration with Spotify and other outlets; make sure you take full advantage of this. You want to make it as easy as possible for people to hear your music.
  5. #DontForgetTheHashtags. These will add you to different pages exposing you to different audiences with similar interests.

Let’s get to posting!

“Drop a Single…Like It’s Hot.”

In the fast pace world we live in today, music consumers constantly want the newest release. This is in part why the music community is moving away from releasing an album every year or two and towards dropping a single every couple months. Having an extended amount of time in between your music releases allows your fans to have time to grow tired and possibly lose interest.

Instead of building hype up for an album and letting it die out by the time you are ready to release your next project, keep your momentum going by having something new to promote by the time your audience starts to get ready to move on to the next thing.

Apart from the benefit of keeping your buzz alive, releasing one song at a time is typically easier on an artist financially, especially if you are doing so independently. It’s almost as if you were paying for your album with an installment plan; only having to pay for one of the songs every couple of months. Don’t forget, with every release you should utilize every marketing tool you have. Tease your single by posting a short clip on your social media accounts.

When your song is released, make sure you have posted it on all platforms: Spotify, iTunes, Amazon Music, Google Play, etc. There are an endless number of streaming or music purchasing sites now, and if you want to make sure your music is heard by as many people as possible, put them everywhere.

Come out of your artist cave and make friends.

Making yourself a household name does not happen overnight. It takes personality, strategy, and connections. Local radio stations can be your goldmine because they tend to host lots of events that you could attend, which could be used as networking opportunities. Getting to know people in the industry is crucial. From the outside, the music industry looks like a huge industry but realistically, everyone knows someone. People like to know that they are acknowledged and it makes you stand out.

Regardless of the outcome, networking is always a step in the right direction. You will never lose anything from putting yourself out there. Having business cards, CDs, pins, stickers, etc. with you to give to industry folks you come across could take you a long way, as you’re giving them something to keep and bring with them.

A major plus to face-to-face meeting is being able to showcase your charisma. Potential fans want to know that you have a personality and are a good person to support. Industry professionals want to know you are in this because you want to be. All of this is so simple yet so overlooked, so start when the opportunities first arise.

The 3 Biggest Business Missteps DIY Musicians Make

[Editors Note: This was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]

 

As the music industry evolves, more and more responsibility falls squarely on the shoulders of independent musicians who wish to build a sustainable career in music. In order to do that, they must embrace their role as CEO of their own business.

For many, this is a dreaded role they would have preferred never to fill. After all, we tend to shy away from things that don’t come naturally to us and if one’s passion and talents lie in creative endeavors, spending time with spreadsheets and business plans doesn’t exactly sound like a walk in the park.

While there is a lot to learn about the business, there are 3 major missteps DIY musicians make when setting out to build their career that can trip them up, no matter the tools and resources they have at their disposal.

#1: They spend money on the wrong things

All too often I have musicians approach me and say, “I want to work with you, but all my money needs to go to recording my next album.” Now, for some, that may make sense.

If they have an engaged following, songs that are ready to record, and plans to leverage that album by booking shows and gaining more press – awesome! Then investing in studio time serves their goal and they should move forward.

However, if they’re spending money in the studio just so they can tell people they’re back in the studio, while in reality they’re paying to sit and write songs that aren’t ready to record, and they’re not at all sure what they’ll do with the album once it’s done, maybe that’s not the best use of their money.

I’m not saying it should all go to a career coach, but one has to ask, “What will serve me right now in my career? What’s holding me back the most? What will make a difference in my efforts moving forward?”

If you’re unclear on your goals – get a coach. If you’re failing horribly at social media, take a class. If you’ve got great songs but your vocals are weak, invest in voice lessons. Being the CEO of your career means taking charge and doing what’s right for the future of that career.

#2: They focus on building a team too soon

Much like the misstep with money, many musicians put an endless amount of energy into seeking management, or fail to book a tour for themselves because they’re convinced they can’t get the gigs they want without proper representation.

There is very little one can’t do on their own in this industry. There is a distinct difference between “can’t” and “don’t know how.” While one term is definitively limiting, the other indicates that one can eventually succeed with the right tools and knowledge.

Obviously, with everything that a musician has on their plate, the thought of a team to carry out what needs to get done seems like the answer to their problems. However, what ends up happening is that they spend time pitching managers and booking agents rather than booking shows and engaging fans.

Managers and booking agents then turn the artist down, after being unable to see any action from the artist’s career to warrant their help.

If you’re hitting roadblocks in your efforts to book shows or grow your fanbase, do some research or enroll in a reputable online course to learn better tactics.

If you’re completely overwhelmed with little time to accomplish what needs to be done, look into hiring a virtual assistant (or outsource on Fiverr/Task Rabbit) who can help take care of the day-to-day administrative tasks while you focus on bigger picture goals.

An assistant doesn’t need to see a certain level of followers or performance history before jumping on board. Build until there is something formidable for someone else to manage. Let them seek you out, they’ll know when you’re ready.

#3: They try to learn too much at once

Gary Vaynerchuk, as well as many other successful entrepreneurs, often warns that a lack of patience is the ultimate downfall for many who try to follow their dreams. There is no such thing as an overnight success. Much like building a team, you must use the same advice above when it comes to building up your knowledge of the industry.

Too often musicians begin learning about one aspect of the business and then lose focus because they heard someone mention something else that was “super important” so they switch their focus to learning that bit of magic, until someone else comes along and mentions the next “up and coming” piece of industry know-how and then it’s onto that new focus.

In the end, they are left with information overload and a very low retention of skills and knowledge. Success is comprised of healthy habits. Habits take time to form. Trying to learn all of the industry’s “secrets to success” at once is a fool’s errand.

Decide what is a priority right now for the next phase of your career. Figure out what resources you have to carry out the tasks required as well as what’s still needed. Seek out the information and tools necessary to move you forward and nothing more.

If you happen to download an ebook or resource that doesn’t serve your current focus, save it in a folder for later. Finish tasks. Move forward. Reassess. Learn more.

There is no one way to building a successful career, as success is defined by the person pursuing it, but there is a right way. Hopefully avoiding these missteps will allow you to focus more energy directly on the goals you’ve set out to achieve, rather than allowing your energy to splinter off into unrelated paths.


Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate

5 Ways To Leverage Press

[Editors Note: This article was written by Suzanne Paulinski.]

 

You spent months reaching out to bloggers, podcasters, and music tastemakers to convince them to review your music and/or interview you. You sent out links to your music. You submitted your press release/bio/EPK. You got people on board. You prepped for the interviews (preferably the right way). The pieces were published. The links were shared…

…and crickets.

Sound familiar?

All too often musicians put in so much effort to get press, only to see it move the needle very little, if at all.

It’s not because the reviews were poorly written, but because many musicians fail to leverage the press they receive in the right way.

There are so many tips and tricks out there to get the attention of coveted blogs and magazines, but what happens once you’ve gotten their attention? How to do maintain the attention of their readers?

Below are five different ways you can leverage press, whether it’s a printed interview, a podcast, a music review, a video on YouTube, or something that hasn’t yet been invented by the time this article is published, you can build off of these tips to get the most milage out of the months of effort you put into being noticed.

1. Write a newsletter to your fans about the experience.

All too often an interview comes out and fans open up an email from an artist that says “New interview in ABC Magazine CLICK HERE TO READ!” with a link to the article, and that’s it. The problem with that is that you’ve given them no context.

Give them a reason to care and click on the link.

Were you nervous? Did something funny happen during the interview? Did you open up and share something you’ve never said aloud before? Write a brief explanation about your first-hand experience and then provide the link to the article. Your fans will want to know how the story ends!

2. Create a short video introduction to the piece.

Your YouTube channel doesn’t have to only be cover songs or lyric videos. You can leave a short video message to your fans telling them about how much you love ABC Magazine and how honored you were to be featured. Then, using a link card overlay on your video, invite them to check out your latest piece of press. This will add content to your channel, bring more eyes to your other videos, and add to your subscriber list (just be sure to tell them to subscribe at the end of the video and in your caption).

Second, doing a short video on how much you love ABC Magazine and sharing it with others not only converts well (as video often does), but it shows love back to the writer and company who just covered your song/band.

It’s a unique way to say thank you, beyond simply sharing a link about yourself. Relationship building for the win.

3. Share a ‘Behind-The-Scenes’ photo with the link.

Posts that get engagement are the posts that readers are able to immediately relate to, and not everyone can relate to having their music reviewed or being a guest on an awesome podcast.

Especially if the press is audio only, adding a photo to the post that shows you (and any other band members) having fun, or even better, exhibiting some sort of feeling or message that is discussed in the piece, catches peoples attention and allows them to connect with your message on a deeper level, rather than simply seeing a link to a podcast you want them to hear and share.

Add a caption that explains a topic that was discussed and then inviting them to hear the rest by clicking the link goes a lot further than simply saying, “Listen now!”

4. Write a review of the blog/podcast that featured you.

Much like the video message, this shows other outlets that you care about shining a light on those who have shone a light on you.

Creating a list of your Top 5 favorite reviews they’ve done (while including yours on that list), whether as a newsletter or simply a longer Facebook post, opens your fans’ eyes up to other artists they may not have known and may also introduce them to a writer or podcast host they weren’t familiar with until now. Posting content that provides greater value is key.

5. Reach out to the next tier of blogs/podcasts.

Much like life in general, everything has its season. A few months ago you may not have been ready for a feature in XYZ Music News. But now, ABC Magazine has interviewed you and brought more eyes to your message and music. That may be what XYZ Music News was waiting for before they decided to jump on board.

When you have a glowing review or stellar interview with one outlet, do your homework and determine the next stepping stone. Don’t jump from a small write up in a local paper to the cover of Rolling Stone – be strategic. Look at bands you admire and start to examine how their press exposure grew and follow suit.

Reach out to outlets that may have turned you down in the past and reintroduce yourself, acknowledging that some time has passed and you have recently enjoyed some positive press that you’d like them to be aware of in consideration for a future review.

No matter what, always think about these two things:

  • The bigger message. What larger message was your recent press about that others can relate to? Create multiple posts off of that one message.
  • Your funnel for bringing on new fans. Be strategic in how you involve your other channels, as well as your email list, when getting the word out about your latest press. We call this your funnel – using once piece of content to drive fans to other channels to take further action.

Lastly, don’t forget to update your EPK or press page on your website with the most current coverage. Your hard work doesn’t end once you’ve landed the review. Make it worth your effort by seeing it all the way through.


Suzanne Paulinksi is an artist consultant with over 10 years in the music industry and owner of The Rock/Star Advocate

5 Tips To Get More People to Sign Up for Your Newsletter

[Author: Hugh McIntyre *

Email newsletters may seem like a form of promotion that has gone the way of the dinosaur, but as a musician (and especially one who is still working their way up the industry ladder), I’d suggest you don’t turn your back on these messages just yet. If done right, you can really make these occasional emails valuable, and once you convince a few people to sign up, you could see sales of merch, music, and concert tickets begin to grow.

It is tough to stand out and offer an email that people want to read, and getting them to agree to be emailed in the first place is one of the toughest things to do! Here are a few tips that may help you grow your subscriber count, which is something a musician is always looking for.

  1. Offer an incentive
  2. Post on social media
  3. Explain the benefits
  4. Use a good placement
  5. Promise to be safe

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1. Offer An Incentive

Some of your biggest fans won’t need much convincing when it comes to signing up for your email newsletter, because they’ll understand that it’s a great way to support you and to keep up to date with everything you’re doing. Since they love you, they’ll likely seek this out.

Sadly, even if you’re a star, the percentage of fans, or of those who have even heard of you and your music, who will voluntarily sign up to receive promotional messages from you is going to be small. People don’t want to be bothered, and we all know what it feels like to see our inboxes become inundated with missives we weren’t looking for.

As an extra incentive to convince people to sign up for your newsletter, offer to give them something of value in exchange for access to their inbox. It doesn’t need to be anything huge, but it does need to be something they actually care about and that many people will want, since you’re not going to be tailoring this to each individual person.

A free song, a small piece of merch (like a sticker or a pin), or perhaps a certain percentage off a larger item or even a concert ticket could be enough to help you collect a respectable number of email addresses.

When you’re just starting out, you won’t need much help with managing this, as you’ll be able to simply keep track of who signed up and when and then personally email them their gift. After a certain point, that may prove to be exhausting, but there are dozens, if not hundreds of services out there that can help you run your newsletter, and there are plenty of free options that are great.

2. Post It On Social Media

Newsletters are wonderful for you and certainly still important, but we are living in a social media world now…though you shouldn’t think that the two can’t interact or cross promote! You should absolutely have links to your social channels in all of your emails, and there’s no reason why you can’t promote the fact that you have a newsletter on your social platforms as well!

As I suggest whenever you’re promoting anything on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook, be smart about how you do so. Don’t simply copy and paste the same message asking people to sign up!

Be more creative!

Think about how often you’re posting, what time of day you’re sending a tweet, how this ask could work visually, and phrase your request in several different ways, so people don’t mind seeing it, and so they aren’t struck by the fact that they’ve likely seen this several times before.

Most of your fans will be following you on social media, since that’s the first place they go to find you and see what you have to say and what you’re up to, but if you can convince even some of those people to take that next step and allow you into their email inboxes, you may have a superfan in the making.

Sign Up

3. Benefits!

Newsletters used to be the only way (or at least the best way) for many people to find out that you had a new song or album coming or that you were preparing to head out on the road, but now most fans are content waiting for the news on social media.

That might sound like it’s fine, but the average person’s Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook feeds are not only incredibly crowded, they’re also now subject to algorithms created and implemented by the companies themselves, and they might not be helping your chances.

Explain to your fans and followers that it’s important to you and your career that they sign up for your occasional emails, and spell out the benefits for them. They should be the first to receive news about everything from new music to upcoming shows, and depending on how you’re set up, you might want to think about allowing those people to have first dibs at tickets to your new tour.

You don’t need to get too technical at the beginning of your career—just send them the link first! This may change as you become more popular, but let’s not get too ahead of ourselves just yet.

4. Be Smart About Placement

For the most part, people will be signing up for your newsletter on your actual website, as it’s easiest to direct listeners there and have them enter their address via a simple form. Referrals from social are great, but don’t forget about people who may have found their way to your website organically!

As you’re creating your page, or as somebody else is, give some thought to where you place this form, and don’t only put it in one spot. You should be copying and pasting the code for your newsletter sign up form below every news item, underneath every blog you write, and somewhere on the front page where they can see it almost immediately.

It’s not always the most visually appealing addition, but it’s important, so be creative with how you incorporate it into your design!

5. Promise To Be Safe

Like I said earlier, people are exhausted by the number of emails they receive on a daily basis, and most, if not all, of them are trying to sell something (this will be the same with you). Be very clear that you have no interest in sharing their email addresses with anyone for any reason, not even for cash!

Many companies sell off thousands or millions of emails to others to encourage spam, but you’re not some major outfit! Remind your fans that this is just for you to promote your music and your shows, and nothing else. Most people won’t suspect any ulterior motives, but it doesn’t hurt to remind them!

Sign Up

*[Hugh McIntyre writes about music and the music industry and regularly contributes to Forbes, Sonicbids, and more.]

Why Playlists Are More Important Than Ever

[Author: Patrick McGuire *
In 2017, the playlist has become an integral part of not just music but our culture at large. While radioplay and the blogosphere still have the power to bring attention to an artist, playlists are becoming a steadfast way for more and more listeners to discover and consume music. This isn’t exactly breaking news for those readers who’ve been making serious music over the past decade, but the fact is that playlists are shaping the musical landscape more than ever before, and if you don’t release your music with that in mind and plan accordingly, you’ll risk missing out on some potentially huge opportunities.

The New Listening Landscape

Remember that snobby record store clerk you used to get your music recommendations from? Or maybe it was your cool older sister. Well, either way, playlists featuring every genre of music you can conceive of are introducing listeners to new artists in way measured by literally billions of songs, and that’s not likely to change anytime soon.

But probably more important than the way listeners are discovering music is the way they’re now listening to it. Listeners are now relying on playlists big and small to guide their unique listening experiences. Why?

Put yourself in the shoes of a non-musician for a second. Unless you’re particularly interested in discovering and listening to new and interesting music, you most likely won’t have the time or patience to wade through hours of music to find songs that actually resonate with you. Enter an army of new expertly curated playlists, specifically designed to convey an array of nuanced moods that cater to a wide variety of different music fans.

Like indie rap? There’s tens of thousands of playlists out there for you. Looking for electronic jazz/rock fusion for stepdads? Actually, I have no idea if that playlist exists or not, but you get what I mean.

Engaging new and old listeners on this relatively new playing field is becoming more and more important for career musicians, but don’t take my word for it.

Let’s look at the data.

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The Data Behind Playlists

On average, Spotify’s 4,500 curated playlists generate over a billion streams per week. Their Discover Weekly feature has connected well over 40 million music listeners to about 5 billion new songs. Love it or loathe it, Spotify is doing something massively important for new artists, and figuring out how to get your music featured on Spotify is worth looking into, even if the chances of your music being selected by one of Spotify’s notoriously picky playlist curators is slim.

But while Spotify is a major resource for listeners when it comes to finding and consuming music, YouTube is an even bigger player. Though the stats are controversial, complicated and difficult to understand, some music industry analysts believe YouTube accounts for 40% of all music listening.

I released a single recently and was surprised to learn that a dude with a playlist I’d never heard of had shared my new song on a YouTube playlist with over 188,000 subscribers. My release performed pretty well on Spotify, but the numbers were nothing compared to the exposure I got from being featured on that one Youtube playlist.

Make music regularly enough and you’ll sometimes get lucky and have your songs featured on decent-sized playlists, but reaching out to playlist curators and asking for your songs to be considered is vital if you’re just starting out and new to the playlist game.

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Pitching Your Music to Playlist Curators and Digital Music Stores

Taking the time to submit your music through TuneCore’s feature submission form is an easy way to pitch your music to digital music retailers like iTunes, but if you’re interested in getting playlist curators to consider your songs, you’ll have to do some research.

Take some time to find out what playlists are out there that feature music that’s similar to yours. Rather than gunning for the big, heavily followed tastemakers, I recommend starting small and pitching your music to playlists with smaller followings.

Similar to how you’d pitch your music to blogs, take some time following different playlists and getting a feel for the kind of music their curators like to feature.

Craft a short email explaining who you are, what your music sounds like and why you think it fits on the playlist you’re inquiring about. Yes, you’ll most likely get your fair share of no’s and unanswered emails, but with how much potential there is out there for finding new fans through playlists, getting serious about playlists is becoming a mandatory task if you’re intent on being a successful musician.

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[Editors Note: This blog was written by Patrick McGuire. Patrick is a writer, composer, and experienced touring musician based in Philadelphia.]