How To Get Your Music On A Human Curated Spotify Playlist

Andrew McCluskey
Dec 20, 2017 · 6 min read
Image for post
Image for post
  • ** Update June 2019— So track subs now regularly exceed 1,000 a month and certain lists are getting 4 to 5 subs a day. The good news is with the changes to our track submission form and with many more artists reading this article, the quality of submissions has continued to increase and we are publishing more independently submitted music than ever before. But if you’re here for the first time — you should definitely read on…***
  • ** Update April 2018 — This article was written in December 2017, since then we have received almost 4,000 track submissions and while the quality has improved, there’s still a huge percentage that clearly didn’t read this. If you’re looking to submit to a Music to playlist you should definitely read on… ***

Since we started counting in late April 2017, has received 882 tracks through our generic submission form.

Of those 882 tracks — I think we’ve published maybe 5 or 6 on our playlists. Why do think that is?

I’ll tell you.

It’s because the vast majority of the people who submit their music to us are either clueless, or lazy or both.

That might sound a bit harsh but — the data doesn’t lie.

Evidence for Clueless

Half of the tracks submitted are for Spotify branded playlists that we don’t curate.

I get it — I’d love to have my music on one of the big Spotify lists — getting a track on Rap Caviar can change your life — but what makes people think we have access to them? I think we’re pretty upfront with what we do and how we do it - it stuns me to see that people seem so blinded by their own desires that they don’t stop to read what’s on the screen in front of them.

Which leads to the next point.

Evidence for Lazy

And yes — I’m being intentionally provocative here — I know that if you’re working a day job and then recording in the evenings and hustling at the weekends the last thing you can be accused of is being lazy — I live the life — but what else can explain the vast numbers of cut and paste entries for the same track to 6 or 7 different playlists?

I get it — you’re short of time — there’s a thousand different playlist sites out there and you’ve got to submit your track to every one of them — who has time to craft a unique and pertinent submission to each playlist curator?

The One Thing You Need To Take Away From this Article

The #1 thing you can do to get a Music to curator to listen to your track is to write a compelling couple of paragraphs about why your track would be a good fit for their list.

Err — but Andrew — you already say that on the intake form — where’s the new knowledge — the giant insight that I’m here for?

Well — sometimes things are so obvious that they need reiterating several times. But if you’d like me to break it down — here goes:

Human Curated Lists Are Curated By People

You know the difference between algorithms and people? Algorithms have time and people don’t. That’s why your Discover weekly or Pandora station eventually falls into lameness — Spotify can’t afford to employ the millions of people it would take to human curate your individual playlist recommendations.

One of the advantages of human curated lists is that they bring back randomness and creative associations that in 2017 / 2018 — artificial intelligence just doesn’t have.

But more importantly for you the artist looking for an audience, Human curated lists come with context, they come with a reason for people to listen. Music to playlists only publish one track a week and that track is promoted to the list audience for 7 days — in a world with practically infinite music and infinite playlists — context and promotion is everything.

Music to Curators Read First Listen Second

You should probably write that down.

Have you ever sat with someone where they’re sharing a song and you’re not really digging it so you look at them to find they’re grinning at you saying “wait for the hook” — and you wait and you hear it — and it’s awesome…? I don’t know about you — but some of my favorite tracks took me a good two or three listens to “get” and then fall in love with but there was always a reason, a context as to why I persevered through those early listens.

With an ever growing number of submissions, sitting down and listening to every track is impossible, in fact nowadays even listening to the whole track becomes improbable. There are places like submithub which are tackling this and doing a great job — I’m a fan — but curators are making decisions after what — 15 / 20 seconds of listening — some don’t even get to the chorus before they’re making a decision to reject.

If tracks are going to be judged on the first 20 seconds or so — then music’s going to look pretty homogenous pretty quickly.

If you want a curator to not just listen to your track but in fact give you enough of their time to listen to all of it — you gotta convince them with something that isn’t just your music.

It’s About Them Not You

When you cut and paste a track submission what you’re saying to the curator is:

“My time is more important than your time.”

You’re saying that you don’t care to find out if your track really is a good fit, you’ve put the onus on discovering that onto the curator. Unfortunately for you — even though you may be the hottest thing since Justin Bieber appeared on YouTube — everyone else is doing the same. So the curator’s reality is that they’re listening to a load of songs that don’t fit their list and they’re wasting their time.

Remember that a Music to curator may have less time than you do. They also have a day job, they’re also balancing family and work and studies and finding time to read and listen and publish. But remember why you’re submitting to them in the first place — they have done the work of building an audience. They’re the ones who showed up every week to share and promote their track, to build their social audience to slowly but legitimately grow their followers and subscribers.

When your first interaction with someone who has built something that you want is pretty much “I’m more important than you!” — it’s kinda unlikely that they’re going to give you their time.

Ain’t Nobody Got Time For That!

Yes, yes actually lots of people do have time for that. Every now and then we get a killer track submission. Someone has taken the time to listen to the playlist, has commented on the tracks that they like, has read the curator bio, even sometimes checked out their music and referenced it in their submission.

They write lovingly about their track — where it came from, what it means to them. They talk about how it would fit on the list — the kind of track it could sit next to. They add all their social links — drop us a link to a killer image and let us know they’re up to answering questions and being interviewed.

And when that happens — we tend to listen to the track — and if we don’t like it or it doesn’t fit our list we think of our community and wonder if it could fit on someone else’s playlist. When an artist goes out of their way to save us time and respect what we have built — we will go out of way to help them as best we can.

Your Choice

It comes down to this — you can continue rushing from one site to another, cut and pasting your track submission and maybe getting your track out to 1000 different lists and maybe less than 0.5% of them add it. And maybe that takes you 10 hours.

Or you could take 30 minutes and research a playlist curator and their list and write a compelling track submission. That means you’d only hit 20 sites in the same amount of time — but I’m betting not only would you get added to more lists — you’d start to develop a relationship with a playlist curator that could last you a lifetime!

Be A Music to Curator

If you’d like to curate your own list, come and check us out. We are a growing global community of music lovers who love to share our playlists with the world. We are growing our audiences one track at a time and having a blast doing it. Read this page and then if you’re still up for it — submit your application:

Music to

We are a growing global community of music curators who…

Andrew McCluskey

Written by

Working to connect the world through human curated playlists at

Music to

Music to

We are a growing global community of music curators who love to share our playlists with the world. We are growing our audiences one track at a time and having a blast doing it.

Andrew McCluskey

Written by

Working to connect the world through human curated playlists at

Music to

Music to

We are a growing global community of music curators who love to share our playlists with the world. We are growing our audiences one track at a time and having a blast doing it.

Medium is an open platform where 170 million readers come to find insightful and dynamic thinking. Here, expert and undiscovered voices alike dive into the heart of any topic and bring new ideas to the surface. Learn more

Follow the writers, publications, and topics that matter to you, and you’ll see them on your homepage and in your inbox. Explore

If you have a story to tell, knowledge to share, or a perspective to offer — welcome home. It’s easy and free to post your thinking on any topic. Write on Medium

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store