6 Strategies to Get More Song Plays on Streaming Services in 2020
Generate more plays on Spotify, Soundcloud, YouTube, and more.
Do you know the feeling of finally completing a song that you’re in love with? It’s indescribable! All of a sudden you’re listening to a sonic reflection of yourself. It feels deeply existential– a kind of lesson your soul teaches your mind, which it will stay with you forever. And this teaching cannot be bought, it is only earned by those brave enough to confront their egos.
If you have experienced this, you understand artistry to its very core essence.
And whether or not your latest song brought you to a philosophical realm, i’m sure it was either a thrilling journey, or perhaps you’re just happy that you’ll never open up those project files again. Sometimes it’s a little bit of both, and it’s an experience we know well by now.
But now that the euphoria’s diminished, you’re back to the real task of what to do after you’ve finished your single/EP/album… whatever it may be. Some artists have a detailed plan strategizing how to exponentially increase their play-count, and exposure as a whole. Others post their latest song on Soundcloud, sit back, relax, and wait for fame to rush through the door. I mean, since they believe their music is some kind of a gift from the Heavens above… the world will come to them without any hard work post-production, right…? (this is an obvious no)
Let’s be honest, music producers letting their ego get in the way of their success is a really common event, especially at the beginning of their career. If the numbers aren’t where they want it to be, many give up. It’s like the world somehow owes them fame and fortune because they really want it, or because they have convinced themselves they “deserve” it. Let me break that bubble now– the world doesn’t owe you anything.
But also, let me be clear– you may not have millions of plays because your music is bad, it most likely is caused by engaging with channels that are completely oversaturated. It’s an uphill battle, and normally ends with left on “read” messages.
So, we wrote this article to help you generate noise. If you feel confident in your music, and you’re ready to receive exposure, feedback, and to let the world judge your art, these words are for you.
1) Submit to Submithub
Instead of cold calling record labels, use your time wisely and submit to bloggers that are looking for music, instead of bothering those that get literally hundreds of demos a week. You can easily get this done using Submithub. I have utilized this platform countless times, and I have created real connections, landed uploads on major YouTube channels, and have been offered record deals.
For the price, efficiency, and quick turnaround, this is the easiest way to get your music heard. Each submission ranges from $1-$3 dollars, and if they don’t respond within 72 hours, you get your money back. The process is very straightforward, and it’s really easy to nearly guarantee that your music will be heard. You can also request feedback if you’d like to receive some outside 3rd party perspectives on your work.
Warning: A lot of the bloggers can be brutal with their responses and feedback. If you’re new to producing music, chances are, you will get negative feedback, and even the “you should just stop producing music now” kind of mentality thrown your way. It’s important to ignore these shit-talking music bloggers hiding behind a digital veil, and to continue on. You might as well get used to it because most artists have to deal with this at one, or at many points in their career. If you give up because of this type of negativity, you’ve just proven to your haters, and worst of all: yourself, that you don’t have what it takes.
Bonus: If you’re looking to get your music uploaded to Spotify playlists, you can choose websites like Soundplate, but this process is even more selective than Submithub.
2) Repost Chains On Soundcloud
If you are unaware of what a repost chain is, let me explain it to you.
In summary, a repost chain is a network of music producers on SoundCloud, usually with 5k-2M+ followers, that all agree to repost any song that’s given to them. Musicians pay a certain amount of money per million follower exposure (e.g. if you pay $50 bucks for exposure to a million users, that is the sum of all the followers of the artists that repost your music, this does not mean you will generate a million plays) and buyers receive a calendar of when, and who will repost their song. I’ve done this personally and this has helped generate tens of thousands of real plays on Soundcloud. You normally cannot choose exactly who you want to repost your song, and most of the time you won’t know who will repost until you receive your calendar. However, if you have a big wallet, sometimes who you want reposting your music can be negotiated.
Websites like Repost Exchange can be a good start, or we also highly recommend looking into private chains. If you don’t have access to any, start messaging other music producers, preferably producers that are bigger than you, and ask if they can connect you with someone that runs a chain. Most music producers use chains, or at least know what you’re talking about.
Note: Only do this if you really care about Soundcloud. It’s pretty obvious that they have been struggling these past few years, and we would not be surprised if they ended up obsolete, or started to lose more momentum in the music streaming race. It most likely is still worth it because of the reach that you can utilize right now, but that effort will not show if they are no longer in business.
3) Social Media
This is an obvious one, but how to spread awareness efficiently isn’t always obvious.
We don’t recommend spending money at first. Instead, connect with other users once you’re actively posting your music, and say something nice about their music. It can be something simple like, “hey, I like this song of yours! The synth sits really well in the mix, and the melody is simple and catchy. Well done!” If you’re nice to people, and show a genuine interest in their music, you’re much more likely to raise the chances of other musicians listening to your music. This doesn’t cost a dime, only a few seconds of your time.
Pro-Tip: Do not turn into a spammer on IG, FB, or Twitter and start randomly messaging users with links to your music. It’s obnoxious, and makes you look unprofessional really quickly. If you are going to cold email, make your words personal, and seek meaningful relationships instead of asking for favors.
4) Remix Pack
If you’re releasing a single, remix packs can be a great option, especially if you’re in electronic dance music. Basically, you’ll put out your single, and you include remixes from other artists and release it like an album. Many large artists will do this and recruit other well known producers, and it helps them grow together.
You can start by reaching out to other music producers once your song is done, and ask them if they’d be interested in creating a remix. If they are, send over your stems. Chances are, if they’d like to be a part of it, they’ll share the pack on social media, and then you have just gained more exposure for a song you have made.
Here’s a quick guide for bouncing stems that may be helpful for you.
5) Cold Email Youtube Mix Channels
Find YouTube channels that create mixes in the same genre as yours, and this can be an easy way to gain exposure for yourself.
I reached out to the owner of this channel, sent him my music, and he placed it first in this mix. It only took me minutes to write him a personal email, and over a million people have heard my song– for free. I’ve had many people discover my music after listening to this mix, and I feel very grateful for that.
If you’re looking for specific placement on any given YouTube channel, go into their contact info, and sometimes they’ll leave an email to submit your demo! You might as well give it a shot. In my case, it worked out really well.
6) Grassroots Style Advertising
Or in other words… free advertising. Print out your album cover with some of your basic information, and go around the city stapling your album cover to electrical poles. Find music venues, studios, record shops, and ask if you can hang your new album flyer in their shop. We employed this strategy for Melody Nest, and it helped us generate more traffic, and even sales for our business.
Also, this is an excuse to go out and talk to people. We all have heard the term “networking” and this is where you can apply it. Who knows, you might talk to someone that likes you and score yourself a spot on their shop’s wall, or maybe even something more serious that can help your career.
Before you decide to utilize any of these tips, pause for a moment, and ask yourself this:
Is my music ready?
If you have recently completed your very first song and you stumbled on this article, please return to your DAW and start your second song, and forget about trying to generate plays. We can almost guarantee that now is not the right time.
If you have been producing for a while, and have put in hundreds to thousands of hours into perfecting your craft, then go for it! But, let’s be clear– play count isn’t everything. Usually, all these numbers represent is how much time you’ve dedicated yourself to a project. An artist with 1,000 plays probably means they’ve either just started, they’re creating music as a hobby, or they haven’t spent much time working towards building their music career. On the other side, artists with millions of plays usually indicates years of work, hustle, and a team that’s helping them push their career to new heights.
p.s – are you wondering which distributor you should go with?
Here are some of our top choices for you:
1) Distrokid – They charge $19.99 per year for unlimited songs, and you maintain 100% of all royalties.
2) Amuse – A free mobile platform that lets you keep 100% of your royalties. Their main business model generates profits by signing artists to a 50/50 split, not distribution.
3) Tunecore – They function a bit like Distrokid and Amuse because they don’t absorb any of your hard earned royalties, but they charge per upload. They charge $29.99 for the first album, and $49.99 for each following year. If you have one song you’d like to release, they charge $9.99 per year.
4) CD Baby – No yearly fees to keep your music on streaming platforms, but they require an upfront payment of $9.95 and they absorb 9% of your royalties.
1) Submit to Submithub
2) Repost Chains on Soundcloud
3) Social Media
4) Remix Pack
5) Cold Email Youtube Mix Makers
6) Grassroots Style Advertising,
My name is Nick Voorhees, and i’m an Icon Collective graduate, music producer, and owner of Melody Nest. I am in no way an expert in music production (or in any field), but I just wanted to share some insight on what helped me along the way. I hope this is at least a little helpful.