Whether you’re an independent or major label artist, one thing is clear: getting your music on Spotify is an absolute priority.

Launched in April 2006, the Stockholm, Sweden-based streaming service has grown to become one of the top media platforms in the world, and with 140 million users, a first-stop shop for independent artists trying to get their music heard.

When trying to get into the digital side of things as an independent artist, it can feel particularly challenging to make the progress you hoped for.

With so many platforms out there and such a wide extent of hoops to jump through to succeed, becoming successful on digital platforms can feel a touch overwhelming.

To help you get around that issue, though, this guide will hopefully help you make a difference. Spotify if powerful and very lucrative, so what are the steps needed to break into that much needed revenue stream?

How do you get noticed on the platform everyone uses?

How to distribute your music independently online

Now, it isn’t as simple as just uploading music and grinning as the views and cash rolls in – things are a bit more complex than this. To get music onto something like Spotify, you gotta use a third-party platform to make it happen.

Independent acts don’t have someone there to do it for them, so you need to turn to a professional service built for this exact purpose.

The two most common options are TuneCore and CD Baby. They can both get you onto Spotify alongside other tools such as Apple Music Deezer, Tidal and a list of less popular but still useful to be on streaming services.

Roughly, the cost per album to use these services is around $50, which is pretty cheap all things considered. You also charge a renewal fee with TuneCore, so if budgets are very tight you might want to take stock on this.

Another less experienced option, DistroKid, is just $20 and gives you unlimited uploads every year for that fee, so that’s a good one for those who are low on cash.

You should, though, go and look at all three: they all have their pros and cons and knowing what is going to suit your needs best is very important for ensuring you make good calls in the years to come.

However, once you have chosen the service that you want to use and got a package with them, you need to upload your music.

It has to be the highest quality audio possible with no loss at all, so make sure that you invest as much as you can into getting quality audio recordings: all three services will turn their nose up at anything like an MP3, so be serious.

Also, add some meta data that they can use as a quick description of who you are and what you stand for. People need to know who you are so if you have a nice little introduction or blurb written about you and your music, be sur to include that for the album and for your overall artist profile.

Now, you’ll be on Spotify and other platforms. How do you go from being on there to being actually heard, though? What is the next logical step forward?

Creating your own Spotify playlists

Now, Spotify is pretty interesting in the way it is used. People will find artists from elsewhere – let’s say your YouTube or SoundCloud account – and come looking for you on Spotify.

If you aren’t there you won’t go in their playlist and thus might be forgotten about. Not everyone gets discovered first on Spotify, but most artists get augmented and re-discovered, shared and spoken about because they are on there.

It’s easier to message a friend and get them to listen to you on Spotify than it is to try and hand over a URL for a SoundCloud page or a YouTube video. So, with that in mind, you should look to get on Spotify purely for the fact that it makes you easier to remember.

People will add you to their playlists but if you are not on there, you need to hope that they remember you later on down the track – and that isn’t always possible.

Also, you don’t just need to wait for someone to find you and add you to their own personal playlists. You can get yourself on there through exposure and working hard. You could build your own playlist and start sharing it, hoping that it catches traction and shares like wildfire.

Try and create a list of artists and/or tracks that influenced you and get them up as a playlist. This looks good as you are not just massaging your own ego but paying homage to the ones that inspired you to get this far.

It’s a good way to show people that you have taste as well as skill, as well. It’s also a good place to start with and, if you notice the playlist getting a lot of responses, add in a song or two of your own to the playlist and see how many people bite.

While it’s not always something that you will feel particularly good about, you may as well as use the lucrative Playlists feature for yourself. Make a playlist to give people value and have yourself in there to ensure that they can learn alongside you – perfect.

The aim here is to eventually get your playlist noticed and then shared by the Spotify team or other prominent users who people listen to and respect.

It’s not something that you can really control or make happen all on your own, but if you start building those playlists for exposure now you might benefit from it a few years down the track.

Now, with all of this in mind, you should be a lot closer to understanding how you can best use Spotify. Getting onto it is the “easy” part – just use the platforms we suggested above and have spoken about in the past.

The hard part is building that playlist and getting yourself noticed and actually heard on Spotify. It takes a lot of time, but it is 100% time well spent if you are willing to put in the hard work and effort to make it so.

Spotify is a powerful tool for any independent artist – and you would do well to start using it.

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Written by Hao Nguyen
Stop The Breaks is an independent music marketing company focused on showcasing independent hip-hop artists. Our goal is to help motivate, inspire and educate independent artists grinding around the world. We provide branding, content marketing, social media, SEO and music promotion services.