How To Write A Spotify Editorial Playlist Pitch in 2024

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So I’ve talked about this on this channel before, but whenever I do videos on how to do a Spotify editorial pitch or look at the ones in my Discord channel where we literally workshop those, I gotta say I see you all missing out on what these pitches should be like 99% of the time. And this is obviously important since editorial playlists are the number one mover of nobody to somebody in music today up to TikTok, of course. But while many musicians know how to make a great song, they’re absolutely clueless on how to talk about themselves in a way that would excite anyone about their music.

So this video, I’m going to tell you everything you need to know to write a Spotify playlist pitch that does your song justice. The saddest thing that could happen to an early thriving musician’s career today is to write an amazing song and then pitch it to Spotify with “I was delivering pizzas and then it came to me to write a song about the girl I delivered to and let me tell you my dude, this sh*t slips!” So I explicitly want to give you a few avenues to go down that can lead you to a successful Spotify pitch.

So let’s first go over what we have to work with here since so many of you messed this up from the jump. Before we even get started, Spotify values promoting people who make them look good. So they want to make sure that you do all the right things to your profile that keep users engaged instead of heading here to YouTube. So they want you to do all the best practices like updating your profile and artists playlists. Since if you start to get popular, people can see all the neat features of Spotify and subscribe and pay so they keep growing. Makes sense, right?

We have some more to do before you pitch. First let’s remember you have a window of 28 to 7 days to get considered for Spotify editorial playlists. Since you have a little chance as it is with all the competition out there, I would take the longer end of that and try to submit it 4 weeks in advance if possible. But let’s go over why this is important. I should say, if any of this isn’t making sense, it may be helpful to watch my annual Spotify strategy video that I put out a few weeks ago.

First, as I cover everything in here in much greater detail, a lot of what helps you get on a Spotify editorial playlist and be considered for it is that your past material is doing well on the platform. This means having a popularity score of somewhere around 25% or above on your track and getting on some user playlists along with getting organic streams. Now if that’s not happening yet, you don’t need to get too depressed. This really just helps you get more consideration, but Spotify claims they listen to the tracks that get pitched to them and consider them and I’ve seen a few artists I consult with go from zero traction to an editorial playlist that really helps them without ever having released a song or having their past material get very little attention.

But if you have all that going for you, let’s get to work on what you need to make a great pitch. And the first element is knowing what makes you special or how to get people curious to listen to your music. Since if you don’t have that, well, we’re already going to fail at this. So let’s talk about the first element of a pitch, which is how we get the playlist curator excited to listen to you, which we do in one of two ways.

So the first of the three elements of a great pitch is to describe what makes you exciting. We want this to be about one sentence, but could use up as many as 250 characters of the 500 characters that you get to make your pitch. Since this is one of the most important parts of it. And yes, you only have 500 characters and that’s characters, not words. So this needs to be short and sweet since that’s about two tweets worth of time to get this playlist or excited about you. And the thing about knowing what makes you exciting to people is you need to know that since everyone from managers or labels is going to need to know this.

Let me explain. When I was younger and a not so wise lad in the music business, I can remember my friend Ben Wyman from the band, the Dillinger Escape Plant told me the reason he managed his own band, even though they were huge and tons of people would want to manage them is no one knew how to sell his band as well as him. I’ll be honest, despite respecting Ben immensely, I thought he was out of his mind and maybe hit his head one time when he jumped off something high on a stage. But one of the many lessons I’ve learned over the years is he was right. Knowing what makes you special and how to sell it to other people is what opens doors for musicians.

I would even argue a lesson I’ve learned is when I wonder why a mediocre band gets bigger than another band that’s just as mediocre. More times than not, the band that’s better at getting opportunities is better at selling themselves. While many people perceive this as connections, there’s some truth to that, but the sell I think has become more and more important in recent years. And like I said, Ben has been proven right that the crucial skill of your manager or whoever handles your music is knowing how to spin the sell and tell a story about why you’re so exceptional. This goes tenfold for what we’re about to do here in pitching your music.

So before you even pass go here, I need you to figure out what is exciting about you because this is where these pitches fail, even when the music’s good. More often than not, the pitches Spotify gets are, “We suck. Just listen to our tracks. This one won’t get your fist pumping like Pauly D after a few monster drinks, pimp.” But some of you are like, “Well, there’s not much exciting about me.” And to that I say, all hope is not lost. There’s another route we can go, which is to get people curious to listen to you. And when you take this route, we try to write something that will make the reader be like, “Wow, I’d like to hear that.” Or “Ooh, what’s that sound like?”

So finding a way to describe your sound that’s intriguing and will make the reader click because their brain is spinning at the thought of what you just said is one of the ways that we can get people to be excited about hearing your song. Here’s some ideas of templates that I would do that would kind of make this work happen. If Periphery had the pop vocal choruses of Taylor Swift, you know the first time you heard 100 Gecs and you wondered how could anyone combine those sounds? Well, Incel Hypebeast takes that ethos one step further. You’ve heard of MathRock’s Complex Rhythms. Well, Ayahuasca Edge Break go to the opposite way by making the simplest minimal songs that still entertain listeners.

Now, the biggest problem with this one is music is highly emotional and specific. So if the person you’re pitching isn’t necessarily intrigued by the curiosity you’ve piqued because they don’t really care what it would sound like if you mixed the cure with ska, then they aren’t going to actually be curious. This is why I prefer trying to get excitement from the gatekeeper since even if the music is not for them, they will give more of a chance to something that just sounds exciting since they want to make sure they aren’t missing out on something they should know about or an opportunity.

Now you may still have questions about how to figure out what’s exciting or how to pique people’s curiosity and luckily for you, I have a video I made last year that expands on this that is linked in the description and if you really need some more help getting this done, it will answer all of your questions. So head over there or wait till the end of the video where it’s linked on the end screen. But if you really feel like this task is never going to get you anywhere, I have kind of a cheat code. Let me give you some great advice. There’s no one better at telling stories when there isn’t much there than music writers. It’s literally their job.

In fact, many of the great music bios you may have seen on Spotify are written by one, a label person or a manager or two, a music writer. Since no one has read more of these bios and they know the game inside and out and they can write a great one oftentimes. There’s many a music writer who needs more money because it doesn’t pay very well and they do this on the side and they don’t take credit for it because it kind of goes against their contract employer, but they take that check to their bank discreetly and this does have the added benefit that it could often be how you get an influential person in your music community to hear you since that’s what music writers are and if they are into it, well, those are often the people who tell everyone else what to listen to so you’re killing two birds with one stone.

I will tell you straight up, as some of you know, I freelance for Rolling Stone, AKA the biggest music publication in the world and you know who often hangs out with music writers? Managers A&R and other music biz types. Since these writers are often hip to new artists on the rise, which the managers in A&R are want to find out about. So hiring one of these writers who regularly writes about your style of music to help figure out how to describe your sound, write a pitch or bio can be great for more doors opening for you and getting you heard by the right people in your community.

And while we’re talking about the music business, let’s also take a quick diversion to talk about why these pitches are so important. Remember when you are pitching, you’re up against placements for the bigger players of this game, like each of the three major labels and then indie distributors like Red Eye, The Orchard, Stem, United Masters and Cobalt who all have employees pitching individually through account reps that are buying drinks for the playlist curators and dinners for favors to get features on these playlists. How do I know this? Well, I’m out there getting these drinks with these people and getting drunk with them because I’m in the music business in Brooklyn and that’s what we do.

I dated someone who part of their job was to buy drinks for playlist curators to help increase their relationship to secure playlist placements. But then you’re probably wondering with all these free drinks going around, the curators are obviously bought and need to be paid back at the form of placements. How are you ever going to get one when you can’t do that? Thankfully, Spotify lets a bunch of you through the gate because what is better advertising than when you are telling a story of how you blew up? Then the first thing that got you popular was Spotify’s playlists.

It’s through those playlists as well that we have to remember that they’re in competition with Apple Music and they’re trying to be hipper than them, which is basically a given. But if people are finding their new favorite artists before anyone else because these curators found them early on, well, that keeps their job safe and it keeps DIY artists still getting placements since that’s what they need to keep people subscribing to Spotify. But Spotify knows that subscribers will keep using them if they keep showing you all the hip new great music you want to hear. Since every other streaming service has the exact same songs, well, the one thing they can offer is curating great playlists. So that’s why you have a chance because they might see you as an opportunity to be that hip artist that keeps somebody subscribing to their service.

So they want to give DIY unknown artist spots, but there’s so much competition since tens of thousands of songs are uploaded to Spotify daily. So the idea is that they are going to be impressed by you and want to listen to your song if your pitch is exciting. But if your pitch is, “We’re four dudes from Kalamazoo who love hanging and banging. You feel me, dog?” It’s not going to get past all the other submissions. You feel me, dog?

Okay, so let’s say we figured out what’s exciting about you or something that will breed curiosity. We need to move on to the next element of a pitch, which is to use cosigns to get them excited. If you have an amazing quote about you from someone influential in the genre, use it. Whether that’s another musician you know who has fans in the genre or a review you’ve gotten or whatever. Have you been featured in prominent blogs, magazines, radio or DJs or most of all other Spotify playlists in the genre? Let’s make sure those are in this pitch.

Let’s always remember big playlists pick up artists from small playlists and those cosigns are important. Let’s also remember ex-members of bands, label names you’re affiliated with, if you work with a big producer who has big credits. All these help curators know that you’re in the genre and that you know the genre’s keywords. Speaking of that, you need to know your community and niche. This is why I stress knowing your community so much. And yes, there’s a video link to the description about why knowing your community is important and how you could figure it out. But here’s what I mean by that. Look through all the playlists in your genre and type in every keyword around your genre so you know what’s going on on them. Is there micro genres you fall into? Make sure to use those community genre buzzwords in your pitch.

For example, I’m really into hyperpop. It has its own editorial playlist on Spotify, but the artists on this playlist are also known as being in other genres like bubblegum bass, PC music or even lo-fi pop. If you know to use these identifiers in your pitch, you show the creator you know the scene and speak the lingo, which goes shockingly far in your pitch. If there’s particular playlist terms in your genre, you could also mention it to show them that you get the community. But don’t be ridiculous. You can’t just write, “This belongs on Rap Cafe, I know.” That’s not going to work.

Instead, if you want to be on a big playlist, you need to hit chart metric and then look at the playlist journeys to the playlist you want to be on. And what I mean by that is playlist journeys show you the smaller playlist that have smaller artists on them before they get on the big playlist. So you could learn which ones feed the big playlist so you can climb up the ladder to get there. But if you have no cosines or space from not having that next element of our pitch, well, adding a quick sentence like, “This song is perfect for indie fresh finds or new indie spotlight or some other small playlist you belong” is a perfect addition to your pitch.

I know a lot of you are thinking you don’t have any connections or names to drop, but seriously, one of the reoccurring things on this channel is when you don’t have those, you’re an island boy, and then algorithms have no idea what to do with you and you lose so many benefits. So you really need to do your community work, which brings me to the last and third element of this. Our last pitch element is to list how you’re going to promote the song. Something like, “We have a music video and full press pitch launching” is great. Even radio campaign music video and 45 date summer tour are also great.

But a lot of you are like, “I’m not doing any of that.” Well, the trick here is the playlister can’t ever tell what you’re going to do in the future before they give you this playlist placement, but it does seem like you get it and you’re actually working. With that said, this part is recommended by Spotify, but if you have enough to say in the other two parts, well, this is definitely the part that can get skipped, especially if you have a great co-sign or two and a small playlist placement suggestion ready to go. This really is the least important part. They just want you to feel like you’re going to bring people to them and they won’t be doing all the work.

So now that we have this pitch written, there’s still some work to do. And what I want you to do here is to show it to other people and then rewrite it five different ways. Okay, yeah, let me stop the video right here because I could already see you being like, “There’s no way in hell I’ve graduated high school and now I’m going to write a Spotify pitch five different ways, Jesse. I’m beyond that, dog.” Dog, the reason you need to do this is because every one of those distributors and major labels, those artists have a team. They have a manager, an A&R person, a marketing person, and someone at the label and the publicist.

We’re going to go through this pitch and make sure it’s solid. Just also remember, oftentimes the hardest part of this is getting it below 500 characters and that often takes work. So not only are you going to write it five different ways, you’re also then going to show it to a couple of trusted people and they’re going to push back at you and tell you other ways you can say these things. Just remember, also a tiny bit of exaggeration selling is good. Don’t let the outside eyes convince you to be modest. Be excited and slightly oversell yourself and even bluster a little bit. And remember, the curator is not assuming you wrote it and are used to managers and A&R overselling the artist.

Remember just like we talked about, that’s why Ben from Dillinger Escape Plan managed himself is because it’s good to be bold here and really sell it. But you probably want to see some of these pitches to hammer home these ideas. So here’s some actual pitches I’ve written with musicians lately. The first comes from a band my buddy Matt Molnar works with which is called High, period. I want to point out a few things with this pitch. First we start out trying to create some curiosity and use some of the micro genre terms that show we are familiar with the community that this belongs in. Like I said, you want to show the playlist curator you get the genre.

In the second sentence, we are basically name dropping a whole lot of cosigns to show they are part of this community. The third sentence as you see, we identify some traits and what target playlists Matt found that have similar playlists that give artists who are starting off placements. And we made sure that these were all playlists where the artists were in the early part of their artist playlist journey. Then in the last sentence, as you can see, we do a laundry list of promotion they’re doing including dropping the name of the label they’re on since it shows they’re part of a community.

Then we have one from the one and only artist in cell hype beast. Since I want to show you some examples here of a route you can go if you have no cosigns, since I know it’s the case for many of you. Here’s a few notes on what I did here. In the first sentence, I try to create curiosity with a strange proposition. In the second sentence, as you can see, I abbreviated the song title to make sure I get below the 500 character limit. And since the song title is “Bud Chasing the Woke Mind Virus” that takes up to 7% of the characters of the pitch so I got a nice shortcut here. While I don’t love describing the song as much as I try to keep stimulating curiosity to listen, since that’s all I got since I can’t use cosigns here.

And then lastly we have one from a band that decided they didn’t want to be in this video after I produced this so… In this one I had such a strong curiosity and cosigns pitch I skipped the promotions part since like I said it’s the least important part of the pitch.

In this example, I had such a strong curiosity and cosigns pitch that I skipped the promotions part since, as I mentioned, it’s the least important part of the pitch. Now that we have that pitch in your back pocket, let’s open Spotify for Artists, and I want you to click the upcoming tab and submit it for consideration.

The first thing you need to do is choose a genre. It may be helpful to look around at some of the playlists that you may want to be on and consider genres if your music borders on different ones. Think about this strategically, as the choices you make will be genre-specific. Next, choose a style. Going for what’s popular is not always the best move, so you should understand your playlist landscape. Since you can choose up to two styles, always do so, but avoid selecting a second style that doesn’t fit your music because the curators will skip you if it’s not appropriate.

Choose two moods and two song styles. You don’t always need to select a culture if you don’t feel comfortable with it. Location is also important. Spotify is increasingly focusing on location-based playlists, and there are many of them worldwide, including in different cities and regions. These playlists are becoming more common, so if you have a choice of where to identify as an artist by location, whether it’s your hometown or a neighboring city, do some research to see if they are emphasizing playlists around your area and if you would fit better on one of them.

Lastly, paste your pitch and submit it.

So, let’s say you fail and don’t get any playlists. You might wonder if all that work was for nothing. It wasn’t. You now know so much more about yourself and how to pitch yourself for various opportunities. Keep pushing yourself and releasing singles to build momentum for your next release because each song sets up the next one for success. Keep in mind that you can use nearly the same pitch each time but tweak something specific to the song. Do everything you can to gain more followers and increase your streams so that your next pitch is more likely to succeed. Especially focus on pitching to independent curators who are not associated with Spotify, as the more independent playlists you get on, the more likely you are to get an editorial playlist placement next time.

On the screen now is a video that goes into greater detail on how to write a playlist pitch that excites playlist curators, managers, or A&R representatives. You need to know this to get anywhere in the music business, so make sure to click on it.

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