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The importance of Spotify for labels

  • 29 July 2020, Wednesday
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Record and laptop with Spotify

Whether you’re running record labels as your primary source of income, a passion project to showcase new artists and music you love, or anything in between, Spotify is one of the most important platforms in the music business world today. With over 345 million active monthly users, having your label’s music on Spotify offers by far the widest audience, eclipsing competitors like Apple Music, Pandora, or Deezer. And in terms of earning money, music streaming is the key source of revenue these days – in the US, for example, 83% of all music revenue came from streaming in 2020. Since Spotify is the number one platform for streaming, you’ll want to ensure your music is there if you want to take advantage of this revenue steam.

In addition to making money and building fans, Spotify label resources help you make the most of your releases and grow your label. From realtime, highly detailed streaming data and insights to promotional tools and a platform for selling label merchandise, Spotify makes it easier to run the business side of music. The offer is continually expanding to fit the modern music industry, too. The social media landscape means promotion of music is now a fully collaborative effort between record labels and artists, so since 2020, artists, managers, and labels have access to a shared analysis and promotion app, with all the songs on your label available to your artists, your label team, and artist managers. All of the functions offered by Spotify for record labels are now handled within the Spotify for Artists app (available via desktop or an app for iOS, and Android).

  • Important topics we’ll cover include how to:
  • Create a label page on Spotify
  • Define your visuals
  • Get followers
  • Curate your own playlists
  • Increase your followers and get submissions
  • Use Spotify Analytics

Before we get started, we’d highly recommend first reading our other guides: Spotify for Artists and Spotify playlists. These go into even more detail about some of the features. And as music promotion is a collaborative effort, these will give you a really good insight into what your artists can – and should – be doing, and how you can work together. And since both use the same platform, they will cover the general layout and fields in more detail, while here we will focus on those features and strategies unique to labels.

  • Assuming you’ve read those guides (or you are already a playlist-pitching Spotify for Artists ninja), the key differences are quite simple:
  • As a label you will have Spotify for Artists access for all the music to which your label holds the rights (but not, of course, any other tracks by your signed artists)
  • Spotify for Artists allows three levels of access: Admin, Editor, and Viewer – all allowing data to be shared between artists, label managers, artist managers, promotional teams, and more.
  • The Spotify for Artists Label Edition playlist music pitching tool allows you to pitch more than one release at a time, provided they are by different artists.

How to create a label page to make the most of it

To make the most of your label’s presence on Spotify, you need to create a dedicated page. People who like one track on a label often seek out other music on that label, and independent labels can often become as famous and well-followed as the artists that feature on them, particularly in electronic music styles. You want to make this as easy as possible for Spotify listeners, and encourage them to keep coming back, just as an artist does with their page.

Create a Label page on Spotify

To create a label page on Spotify you must first create a normal user account here. It makes sense to name the account after your label and be sure to use your label email address to open the account. Ideally your label email address will have a dedicated domain – e.g. info@<yourlabelname>.com – as a generic gmail-type email addresses can prolong the authentication period by weeks.

Define your visuals

As soon as you have your label profile set-up, It’s very important to clearly define the branding of your Spotify profile. It should match the rest of your online presence (website, social network, online music retailers etc.) and should look professional throughout. You might want to consider creating dedicated artwork for different playlists, but make sure they fit your label’s design aesthetic.

Follow and promote your artists on Spotify

First thing’s first: promote the artists on your label! Include them on your own playlists, pitch them to other playlists, and push their releases and profiles on your own social channels.

And be sure to follow them on Spotify too. There are a couple of reasons (not least of which is demonstrating to them that you give a damn!). It lets you check that you receive their latest releases in your “Release Radar”. (Each Friday, a subscriber’s Release Radar list includes all of the previous week’s new releases from any artists a subscriber follows).

You’ll also get suggestions from similar artists in your Discover Weekly playlist (created by Spotify’s algorithm). This is a good way to discover artists in the same music scene for potential signings, tours, or just to add to your playlists.

Official Spotify Playlist Pitching

As we discussed in our Playlist Guide, official Spotify playlists are vital to music streaming success. They are the new radio, introducing a global audience of millions to your label’s music and providing a huge streaming figure boost.

You can’t pitch music until you have created your label profile, certified it, and claimed the label profile with Spotify for Artists, but it’s worth planning it now. We cover most of this in our Playlist Guide, but it’s important to reiterate one thing: only one track per artist can be pitched to official Spotify playlists at any one time.

Naturally, this means you need to ensure that the artist does not have any other releases coming out on any other labels in the same time-frame – or at least that they are not being pitched to official Spotify playlists. You could consider including this in the release contract, but with ever shifting schedules, it’s sometimes easier just to be open about this issue – after all it’s not in anybody’s interest to run into this kind of scheduling clash, so the best solution probably involves a bit of communication and shifting one or both releases as week or two in either direction.

The actual mechanism to pitch music is also slightly different for Artists and record labels. It’s still done from Spotify for Artists, but instead of electing the “Upcoming” tab, you click on “Your Roster”. This will present a list of all the available artists and release, and a corresponding “Submit” button for each.

And don’t forget the importance of building up your own database of unofficial Spotify playlists. These can have tens of thousands of followers, offer lots more options for underground scenes, don’t offer the same restrictions on numbers of tracks you can pitch at one time, and can be highly influential when pitching to official Spotify lists. We go into lots of detail about how to find and pitch to these lists in our Spotify Playlist Guide.

Creating Label Playlists on Spotify

For record labels, creating, curating and sharing playlists has many benefits. It’s a fantastic way to promote the releases on your label, showcase the work of your signed artists, build your own loyal label following, forge relationships with potential new signings, and more. If you become a trusted curator with many followers, this means more streams on your playlists, more streams for your artists, and more money for your label.

To attract lots of followers, you’ll need to mix your own catalog with releases from other artists and labels. Try to mix it up with some of the bigger players in your genre to attract more followers, and some more up and coming to build new partnerships.

For the latter, keep a close eye on your Discover Weekly playlist. This shows which similar artists are being played by your artists’ listeners.

The key to attracting followers with playlists (and, therefore, getting more streams) is keeping them regular. Posting on a specific day helps your listeners know when to check for their dose of new music, so try to plan your lists in advance. Be imaginative and create playlists revolving around themes, events, or moods.

Ideas for playlists:

  • Best New Tracks
  • Featured on X (if an artist has just done a show or DJ mix, list the tracks)
  • By theme (‘Our favourite Spotify Canvases’)
  • By artist (showcasing the work of a new signing)
  • By mood (‘Monday detox in the label office’)
  • By event (‘Our ADE sampler’)

Be sure to create these playlists from your Label Spotify account. While you’re making your playlist, be sure to create them as private lists by unchecking "Automatically make new playlists public" in your Account Settings. That will ensure they are presented as a complete list. Otherwise a list that you are building up over the course of a week or two will be incomplete but visible for that whole time. Just be sure to make it public when you’re ready to share it with the world.

There are also different ways to update playlists. One is to keep adding new tracks to an existing list (‘All our releases chronologically’ for example). Another is to replace the tracks on an existing list with new ones each week (‘Our favorite releases this week’). Or you could create an entirely new list each time. Options one and two have the advantage of keeping all the same followers, helping you grow their audience, but with option two you risk annoying people by removing their favorite tracks all the time, just as they were enjoying them. The third option avoids that, but means you will need to promote it fresh each time. If you do decide to change the playlist each week, just be sure to have another playlist that is an archive of the previous playlists. This will make sure that people can always access it.

Lengthwise, playlists should be at least about 45-60 minutes / 15-20 songs long, but expanding lists can be as long as you like. And an often overlooked tip is to keep your artists at the top of the list as these will be played most, maximising your streams and revenue.

Take some time to properly describe your playlist. Your playlist description gives people a reason to subscribe to it and your profile and – once you’ve verified your label account – is a chance link to your website, socials, vinyl pre-orders, and stuff like that.

Remember, the goal here is to promote your brand and your artists, so be sure to include label branding in the artwork, to cement the label in listeners minds.

Spread the word

Playlists are only a useful promotional tool if you promote them! And there are a number of ways to approach that.

  • Share your playlists and updates via your social media channels

  • If you feature an artist or other record labels, let them know! They’ll often share it via their social networks (and possibly return the favor by adding your artists to their playlists)

  • On YouTube, add the Spotify tab on your homepage. You can also add a call-to-action description for all your video and playlists, allowing users to follow your label profile

  • On your official website, integrate a "Follow" button and share embedded players from your playlists

  • On Facebook/Twitter/Instagram — update your description with the link to your Spotify label page

  • Listen to your own playlists, and do it using your label account – that way it will be visible to your Followers and can encourage them to listen too

Another way to boost the number of followers on your playlist is to accept external submissions of tracks. In addition to providing a pitching hub for artists and labels to submit tracks to independent playlists, Soundplate also lets you submit your own playlist (and pay a €15 fee if you want to accelerate the process). They will then create a custom page where people can submit their songs (and automatically follow your playlist in the process). Tested and approved by iMusician!

Analyzing and using data

Once you have your label profile certification, you will have access to a wealth of real-time streaming data and insights for your releases. As we saw in our Spotify for Artists Guide, it’s all found under the “Statistics” tab in Spotify for Artists. The app displays everything from your monthly listeners and popular tracks to the places in the world you are most streamed. It even shows you how old listeners are, and their gender.

This is invaluable information for your label. For example, you could use it to create online ads for your next single targeting your last release’s main listener group (men over 27 in London, for example).

Or with a current release, you might see that the third song of an EP is getting played much more than the title track, so you can quickly react and start pushing that through your socials, and perhaps create a video and give it its own push. And the real-time nature means that you can react right away, before the heat dies down.

If you want to learn more about how to view and use Analytics, check our Spotify for Artists and Spotify Promotion guides.,We also go into more detail about the other options, such as selling your label merchandise from your label profile page on Spotify, so we’d suggest reading both, if you haven’t already.

Assigning Access for your team

We’ve seen how useful Spotify for Artists can be for your label, but all of the features we’ve looked at – pitching, playlist curating, data analysis, selling merchandise etc. – might well be handled by different people within your team. For example, you might have one person compiling streaming data in order to target FB advertising, another in charge of curating playlists, and another pitching to playlists. You can assign different levels of access to different team members so that your social media specialist (who will often have many labels/clients) can see the data they need with Viewer access but without giving them access to pitching or playlist settings. And you can, of course, retain Administrator control so only you can add or remove team members or change their access privileges.

Doing this is simple.

(Note: We’re using the desktop version but the same functions are available on the iOS/Android app)

  1. Log-in to Spotify for Artists using your Label’s Profile details
  2. Click on your Artist Login Avatar in the top left and select “Manage team”
  3. Select Invite and fill out the team members details.
  4. Select an Access level for the team member. Viewer: Can only see stats for content they’re invited to. They won’t see upcoming releases. Editor: Can edit content, including playlist submissions, Artist Pick, and the artist profile. Admin: All Editor privileges, plus the ability to invite, remove, and adjust access privileges for team members.
  5. The invitee will receive an email to confirm acceptance. They have 7 days to accept, after which the invitation will expire and need to be repeated.

Need a little inspiration? Then take a look at our selection of record labels we follow:

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