The Art of Playlist Curation In 3 Steps: Manage, Promote, Profit

Having the freedom to categorize music – whether it’s to design a brand’s musical identity or to attract a bigger audience – is a treat, but also a responsibility.  Running a playlist is both a science and an art, and as such, we’re here to guide you through the top three most important aspects.

Managing Your Playlist 

There are hundreds of tips on how to start a playlist, but in order to dwell into the world of playlist curation (and to do it right) there are several steps you can’t miss.

First thing’s first: don’t let it sit and gather dust.

By keeping it updated, (general rule of thumb is no more than once a week and no less than once a month), you give your audiences a reason to keep on listening.

Reduce the number of tracks by the same artist, and be picky with what you choose, limiting your range from 50 to 200 songs max.  

Managing your playlist is about keeping things tidy, such as having updates ready in advance. We use Trello to keep a list of upcoming “new songs”, and for creating private draft lists. Next, all we need to do is to drag and drop the new songs from the secret list to the playlist we want to update.

Keep in mind, too, that there is more to updating a playlist with songs of similar mood and genre that simple “sound good”.

Musicality includes loudness, bpm, danceability, length, and a whole array of other attributes. A profitable playlist contains songs that complement each other and marks the distinction between a bunch of good songs vs a fantastic playlist.

Promoting Effectively 

Regardless of the overall aim, playlist curation is about getting followers, and much like in any other campaign, you must understand your niche and adopt an entrepreneurial mindset.

In short, put yourself in your target audience’s shoes.

Social Media
Make sure to add all your social media links to the About section of your profile, but remember that more is not always best. If you’re a visual person, stick to Instagram if you like banter, head on to Twitter. Find your niche and establish a presence.

Use Spotify codes over visual media, host “listening parties” to discuss music in real-time and talk about other people’s music.

There’s no single answer on the best social media strategy, but the take-home is to stay active and find what works best for you.

Paid Ads
According to Spotify, there are 170M+ ad-supported listeners worldwide, so it would only seem worthwhile to give this a try. Like everything else, paid ads require a strategy to make the most out of your investment.

The main advantage is that you can target your audience based on the who, where, how and what of their listening experience. You can also choose between audio, video and display ads.

Genre targeting lets you deliver your ad after a user has listened to a specific type of music. This is helpful if you know that the majority of your target audience listens to reggaeton, for example.” Or, to guide them to one of your playlists.

It might sound old-school, but this is the ideal alternative to independently promoting your music and keep your most committed followers updated. Following Spotify’s footsteps, a newsletter should be catchy, concise, delivered only to those who signed up for it, and most importantly, offer something of value.

It allows you to not only connect with your followers but also to showcase your brand. 

“There’s an art to that, as anyone who’s ever tried to make a road-trip power mix can attest to. But there’s a science to it as well. You have the challenge of blending that artistry and musical instinct with research and marketing strategy.” – Heather K Adams

Where In Your Marketing Funnel Does Your Playlist Sit?

You can become a curator for the aim of solely building an audience or brand awareness, but you can also take it one step further and make it a career, which prompts the above-mentioned question.

Playlist curation can aim to grow revenue, then you must adopt a subscription or pricing type of program. 

Much like being a personal “music” shopper or consultant, your price tag should reflect the hours of it takes to research and write up that playlist. 

Monetizing your playlist curation can come in one of two ways: charging for the service of creating a playlist for a business, or, as an independent playlister, charging an emerging artist a fixed rate for adding their music into your playlist (after you’ve reviewed the song, and only if you like the track, of course).

playlist curation

Playlist curation puts you in charge of controlling a listening experience. What differentiates you from algorithms is your personal touch, but also how you market your work.  It takes both a selective ear and an ability to navigate the marketing world.  You are, after all, the force that designs the labyrinth through which Spotify can lead an artist or song from obscurity to mass appeal.