Creating an active fanbase on Spotify

AKA How I went from 3,000 monthly listeners to 120,000 in under 12 months

The image above is my Spotify listener stats….notice the huge spike on the right? That’s the point at which I got off my ass and started treating it like a Social Media platform, rather than a Streaming Platform.

I took my Spotify engagement from just 3,000 monthly listeners to 120,000 between June 2016 and now. It wasn’t even that difficult….let me show you how I did it.

STEP 1: Get your content up (on everything)

If you’re like me, you have music that exists on Spotify and music that doesn’t. I have a habit of putting out sporadic singles via Soundcloud & Bandcamp and much of that content never reaches streaming platforms. Consider that mistake number one.

The thing is the majority of your audience prefers streaming (see every statistic on streaming vs downloading from the past 2 years) and they want a simple life. They don’t want to have to dig out your random tracks from Soundcloud, YouTube or Bandcamp. If they use Spotify they expect to have access to your catalogue on their service of choice. Your job is to make their experience as seamless — and painless — as possible.

PS. This applies for all platforms. If you’re not providing all of your music in all the places your fans are listening then you’re missing out.

For me this just entailed creating a couple of albums which compiled my singles and uploading a few of my Bandcamp-only releases to DistroKid. Everything was online within 48hrs.

STEP 2: get verified

As long as you’ve got over 250 followers anyone can get a verified artist account. Head over to this link and get the process started. Do it now.

STEP 3: get social

Say it with me: Spotify is a Social Media platform. Spotify is a Social Media platform. Spotify….

You get the point. The thing is that Spotify isn’t iTunes: people follow each other, they share their favourite songs, they have profiles….it’s Social! Stop treating it like a store front and get involved.

PRO TIP: The playlist is king

The heart of Spotify is the playlist. It’s not just the Spotify curated playlists that are attracting huge followings: countless independent tastemakers and brands are helping musicians reach new audiences.

Two things you should do straight away:

1. Share your own playlists. Your fans probably dig the same music as you do…hell, you could even educate them on some obscure track you’re fond of while you’re at it.

2. Get to know the people who create great playlists. They’re the ones who can open your music up to new listeners and really help drive engagement with your tracks. Seek them out & introduce them to your music

PRO TIP 2: a lot of these guys also run successful YouTube channels. Find them and find out how to submit music to them!

For my personal niche, Chillhop are a big deal. Reaching out to them & providing them with new music on a regular basis did a lot to kick start my increase in listeners. Once I was featured in a few Chillhop playlists, I started getting picked up by the more niche Spotify-curated lists, which is where the magic happens. Here’s a quick overview of my playlist stats:

Finally, you need to get the message out there. Send an update to your newsletter list to let them know you’ve added their favourite tracks to Spotify. Post a few of your new playlists on Facebook & Twitter. You know, share stuff.

My own Social reach isn’t that immense: about 1600 fans on Facebook, 1000 or so on Twitter, 5000 people on my newsletter list (thanks again Bandcamp free downloads!). Those of you with much bigger followings that myself should have more than enough reach to push the message out.

…And don’t forget to engage with other creators. You could follow a few people you like & all that stuff…

FINAL STEP: keep it moving

Like everything else, you need to keep things fresh to keep it interesting.

Invest some time in updating your playlists. Follow people who make great content. Share your latest tracks. Keep building that following on a daily, weekly & monthly basis.

PRO TIP 3: use Smart Links to share new releases. There’s a section of your listeners who wants to stream and there’s a portion who want the limited edition CD & FLAC files from Bandcamp. You can serve everyone with a single link, without excluding a single soul. Here’s one of Soulection’s recent ones — cool huh?

And that, ladies & gentleman, is it. Easy right? From a personal perspective, I make niche music in my spare time, inbetween a full time job and 2 kids. Music production is my hobby, not my profession. If I can do you should have no problem. Now get to work.

PS. Did i mention I was on Spotify?!