Playlist Pitching Tips for Indie Hip Hop Artists

Breaking Down Best Practices 

Spotify and Apple Music playlists have become the priority of independent musicians of all genres.  Landing the right placement can work wonders in delivering music directly to the ears of listeners hungry for your style of music, and rack up streams, equating to royalty money.  As the demand for playlist placement has increased, curators and marketing companies have responded, presenting pay-for-placement, and pay-for-pitch models, which put artists in the position to land their tracks.   Unfortunately, many of these playlists and promotion packages rely on bot listeners which drive inauthentic traffic to songs, and ultimately can lead to restrictions or banishment from Spotify.

Ultimately, the best technique for indie artists looking to make a splash on some great playlists is to grind.  It takes heavy research, a salesman’s mentality, and most importantly, a great product.  Expect to be rejected, expect to not hear back, and expect to get pitched a pay-for-streams model.  It can be frustrating, but diligence does pay off.  Don’t only seek placement on the biggest playlists – any playlist selection can improve your track’s standing with Spotify’s algorithm, resulting in discovery of your music across the globe. Using the following guide when submitting your music will greatly enhance your chances of getting your best music placed on playlists that are a great fit.

  • Research relevant playlists:

This step begins with an honest understanding of your sound, and your (potential) audience.  Brainstorm a list of adjectives you feel describe your sound.  Think about artists who are influences, or appeal to your target audience.  List the mood that you think your individual track would appeal to.  This step is vital, as it provides you with “keywords” to search on Spotify as you find suitable playlists.  Additionally, there are resources and websites dedicated to finding appropriate playlists.  The key here is to be candid with yourself, and analyze your music as a listener, not as a fan.

After you have ideas, it is time to begin collecting data and contact information.  It is best to be organized (I personally made google sheets).  Search for playlists by the keywords you have accumulated on Spotify; many playlists will list contact details or social media directly in their playlist description.  Create columns that allow you to gather as much information as possible, as it may be useful once you are ready to pitch.  Feel free to use this template:

Sample:

Playlist Name Description Featured Artists Contact Info Social @
TodaysHipHop Chill, Lyrical J. Cole, Joey Bada$$, Kota, Bas, etc. https://todayshiphop.com/post-news-events/ @todayshiphopofficial

Organizing potential playlists in this manner allows for you to remember where the playlist is, what it’s about and which of your songs might be the best fit.

  • Follow targeted curators on social media:

Build a connection.  Do not get right into pitching – instead take time to study the curators and curator’s likes, what they are feeling at the moment, any additions you see to the playlist, and adding a few targeted likes or comments to their posts.  Come across as authentic, leave a positive imprint, and you will see how easy it becomes to get someone’s attention, especially if your music is dope.

  • Follow submission rules and guidelines:

Most blogs and curators list their preferences for receiving submissions.  Some prefer web submissions.  Others use email.  Some require a press release and photo.  Some just want a link to your track.  Some are only seeking songs that are already on streaming services.  Others are looking for unreleased music only.  Take the time to understand what a curator is looking for, and it will save you from wasting your time, and theirs.  It never hurts to indicate that you followed their directions within the body of your pitch email.

            Quick tips:

  • Avoid attaching files, zip files, or multiple tracks at once. Attachments increase your likelihood to end up in a spam folder before a curator even has a chance to listen.  Additionally, many curators are receiving hundreds-thousands of submissions per week.  Make it easy on them and provide a link.  If your song is unreleased, a private Soundcloud link is a terrific option.
  • DO NOT SEND MASS EMAILS. Nothing is more obvious, and more frustrating than an email opening such as “Whats up”, “Dear Sir or Ma’am”, or “To whom it may concern”.  If you can’t find a name, reference the playlist, blog, or Instagram name.
  • Prove you are a listener and a fan! Clearly and concisely state your purpose, why you think you’d be a good fit, and what artists or sounds would make you a relevant playlist selection.
  • Make sure your music is professionally mixed and mastered. There are more than enough affordable options at this point where there is no excuse to submit anything but a polished sounding track.
  • Track your progress and establish a relationship:

Over time, Spotify for Artists will show you when your track is reaping plays from a particular playlist.  There are also a handful of great apps that will tell you immediately when your song has been added to a playlist.  If you haven’t already, this is a great opportunity to celebrate with the curator – follow the on social media, shoutout their playlist, and use it as an opportunity to establish a partnership with that curator.  Chances are, if they liked one of your songs, another might be appealing as well.  Notice which of your songs are frequently accepted, and which are not getting much love.  This is a strong indicator on where you should go next.

With over 3,000 dedicated hip hop fans, TodaysHipHop Playlist showcases tracks from some of today’s top hip hop artists in the Chill Lyricist category and is Accepting Submissions from labels, managers, and artists.  When submitting to us, and other curators, please use our tips above to increase your chances of placement.

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