• Philip Marsden

How to Make the Spotify Algorithm Your Best Friend

The big question on every indie artist’s mind is “How do I get more people to listen to my song?” You might be seeing some decent numbers on release week, but then it just sort of tails off. You can’t send it out to more bloggers because it’s not new anymore, there’s only so many times you can beg your followers to listen to it before they get fed up with the constant promotion on their feed, so what can you do? Well, you need to make the Spotify algorithm your new best friend.

Spotify’s algorithm exists with one aim: to keep users on Spotify for as long as possible. It does this by recommending songs that it thinks people will like based on their listening habits. It generates daily mixes, Discover Weekly and Release Radar playlists and these are the secret sauce to getting your music heard! They are amazing for getting longer term, consistent growth with your song being pushed to listeners that Spotify thinks will like it. While you’re doing the laundry, working the day job or sleeping, Spotify’s algorithm can be working for you, like your own promotional assistant!

So how can you get it on your side? Here are some tips…


Write for the algorithm

If your song isn’t written with the algorithm in mind, you might already be fighting an uphill battle. It’s a lot like writing for radio. You need to keep in mind that consumers have extremely short attention spans and with Spotify, they can skip your song in an instant if they’re not enjoying it. In fact, people need to listen to your song for more than 30 seconds for it to count as a stream and if they’re skipping it, it can damage your reputation with the algorithm. This means you need to keep your intros short, snappy and catchy as possible. The start of your track should immediately set the scene and get to business. Keep it under 10 seconds if you can and fill the rest of the song with hooks and ear candy, not letting any part drag on or get too repetitive.


Use tags effectively

In Spotify for Artists, you can add tags based on genre and mood to each of your songs. These play a big part in helping the algorithm to understand what you’re all about, so make sure you’re using them effectively and accurately. If you’re tagging “chill” in your hardcore dance remix, your song could end up in front of the wrong audience entirely. They’ll skip it and it’ll ruin any chance you have of the algorithm favouring you. Use them correctly and you’ll stand a much better chance!


Treat Spotify like a social network

Getting users to spend more time on your profile, click your links and follow you are all worth brownie points for the Spotify algorithm. So treat it like a social media network and make sure it’s filled out in full, with an engaging bio, professional photos, social media links, upcoming gigs, merch and more.


Consistent releases are crucial

Momentum and consistency are everything. A release every four to six weeks seems to be the sweet spot for most artists. It opens up more opportunities for playlist placement, blog features, radio play and keeps listeners coming back for more before they have a chance to forget about you. Ultimately, this is going to generate a more consistent flow of people visiting your Spotify profile and streaming your songs, which the algorithm will love. If you’re planning on putting out an EP or album, my advice would be to split it up, with a release every 4 weeks. Start with one single, then when you upload the next song you can add the previous releases to it and you’ll still have a complete EP by the end of the process. It’s a little drawn out, but much better long-term than releasing it all in one go. Plus, every time you put out a new song, your previous release will automatically play next, bringing listeners back to it and creating even consistency in your streaming numbers.


Get the pre-saves in

The first 24 hours are really important for getting the algorithm on your side. It wants to see that people are eager to hear your new music as soon as it comes out and pre-saves are key in making that happen. They ensure that your song is saved to listener’s libraries on release day.

Encourage your listeners to pre-save by running a competition or merch giveaway for those who do it, telling the story of your song through a captivating video or simply by asking and explaining why they’re so important for an indie artist like yourself.


Make sure your fans are showing the love on Spotify.

Streaming the song a few times is one thing, but what the algorithm really wants to see is people saving it, adding it to their playlists and following you on the platform. It’s proven that songs with more saves get into Discover Weekly more often. Make sure you’re doing everything you can to encourage your fans to take the extra step and do this. Again, competitions can work well here. Maybe you could challenge your fans to create the best playlist featuring your song, with the winner getting some free merch or a gig ticket!


Keep up the momentum

Lastly, you need to keep up the momentum beyond release week. The best way to do this is to push for playlist slots every single day. Even if you only have time to make one or two submissions per day, doing this could make a colossal difference to your streaming numbers and position with the algorithm. Momentum is everything and this small effort can snowball and create big results.

For a more detailed how-to on playlist promotion, download my free guide “7 Steps to Getting Playlisted and Maximising Your Music on Spotify”.