In October 2020 I quit my day job at LinkedIn as a Marketing Manager, where I had worked for the previous 3 or so years. During the COVID shutdowns I had moved from San Francisco back to SLC, Utah and I knew I needed a job change. I felt a growing need to dive into entrepreneurship – mainly affiliate marketing, but I somehow found myself falling into something else… building and growing playlists on Spotify AND GETTING PAID TO DO IT.
At the time, I had been running somewhere between $15-30 per day in Facebook ads to promote my own music as an alt-pop singer-songwriter. That daily cost adds up quite a bit over time… $200 per week, almost $1000, and a whopping $10k per year. A lot of indie artists are promoting music that way and I had been doing it for just over a year.
Alright, so how did I go from spending almost $30 per day in Facebook ads to getting paid more than $100 a day and promoting my music even more than before? How did I go from 10 playlist followers to 30,000 playlist followers in less than 6 months? How did I start getting 50-100 paid artists submissions every day just to listen, review their songs, and consider them for my playlists? It was a simple change in my marketing strategy that thousands of indie artists also use, and they don’t even realize they should be doing it a different way.
I’ll never forget watching my first playlist cross that 1000 followers mark and starting to see those DM’s from other artists roll in… asking me to consider their songs. Or watching the paid submissions start to flood in from one day to the next.
As the weeks went on, I kept growing my playlists and receiving more-and-more song submissions each week. I kept thinking I’d hit a wall where it wasn’t profitable or at least stop increasing in profitability. I’m happy to say, I still haven’t quite hit that wall.
What Are The Main Benefits Of Becoming A Playlist Curator?
- Get Paid As Much As $5000 Every Month
- (If you’re an artist) Promote Your Own Music Without Having To Pay For It
- Gain Respect In The Music Industry
- Discover New Music Well Before Everyone Else
- Promote The Artists You Love
Get Paid As Much As $5000 Every Month
About 6 months in and I’m pulling in revenue of approximately $4-5k per month and $2500-3500 of profit. In the spirit of transparency, it does fluctuate quite a bit depending on the number of submissions rolling in each day/week, but I’ve been finding tricks to make it more-and-more consistent which has been pretty awesome to see.
So how much time and effort goes into it? About 1 hr per day on average, sometimes closer to 30 mins or 2 hours – it really just depends on how many song submissions are coming through. In that hour, you’re simply listening to songs submitted by indie artists and labels, and deciding which of them you like enough to add to your playlists. For a day job or side hustle, it doesn’t get much better than that! And when you break it down to hourly, that’s making close to $100 per hour!
Kill 2 Birds With 1 Stone: Promote Your Own Music Without Having To Pay For It
If you’re an artist, running promo campaigns through Facebook Ads, Spotify, TikTok, or any other platform can be very expensive. I’ve seen that firsthand. But it’s something you HAVE to do. In this industry, no matter how good your music is you could go months or years without it being discovered by enough people to pick up speed.
Through this strategy of building playlists and an audience of playlist followers, you will be able to pepper your songs into the relevant playlists – OR what I did, which is build playlists custom to your music style. That way you’re killing two birds with one stone. You’re literally building the perfect fitting playlists to promote your songs, and you’ll be paid to feature other artists at the exact same time.
Gain Respect In The Music Industry
One of the most fun things about this process, has been seeing the new-found influence and respect from artists, labels, & fans. Once you hit that first 1,000 followers mark and feature an artist (big or small), you’ll see them sharing your playlists across their socials. You’ll start receiving DM’s from maybe 10 or 15 artists each day to consider their songs for your popular playlists.
I’ve had A&R reps from labels representing massive artist reach out, as well as pretty popular artists themselves. I’ve had artists that I look up to like Mat Kearney and Devin Kennedy message me or even feature my playlists on their socials.
Discover New Music Well Before Everyone Else
Through the different platforms that I use to receive artist submissions, I get to listen to songs months before they are released to the general public. And not just small indie artists, big labels and popular artists use these platforms as well. It’s pretty cool to hear a song that is a month from releasing that you just know is gonna go viral.
Promote The Artists You Love
This is by far my favorite benefit of becoming a Spotify playlist curator. I’m a big, fat hater of the current state of the music industry. Personally, I believe it’s very broken. There are a lot of really great artists & bands out there that never get heard. The labels sign artists that were already making it on their own and then dump a ton of marketing/promo money into getting them heard. Smaller artists can’t compete with that.
The industry is unfairly monopolized by both Spotify and the labels, and they hold all the cards. They both play it very safe and refuse to take risks on indie artists or bands, regardless of how good they are. I can’t tell you how many great artists I hear every week that have less than 1k streams, when they are truly good enough to be viral. On top of that, Spotify keeps taking steps in their updates to bury independent curator playlists, while keeping their own playlists visible everywhere. It’s very frustrating, but luckily my marketing strategies work around those issues.
With your growing audience of playlist followers, you’ll be able to bring REAL listeners & fans to the artists you want to support – whether or not they’re paying to send you their tracks for consideration.
The 4 Steps To Become A Spotify Playlist Curator
I’ve learned a lot along the way, and I’m excited to be building out an e-book to break it all down. I’m still deciding if I’ll charge for it or just give it out for free, but if you’re interested make sure you add your name and email down below.
Below, I’ve mapped out the 4 main steps to get paid as a playlist curator on Spotify, and if you’re an artist promote your music at the same time. Within each of these 4 main steps there are multiple sub-steps that I’ve figured out and gone through the struggle to get it right. I’ll be adding multiple articles for each step with all my tips & expertise, everything I’ve learned, and important things to avoid to keep it profitable.
- Build Your Playlists (There are some SEO secrets that will help the Spotify algorithm pick up your playlist.)
- Grow Your Playlists (I’ll give you my top 3 strategies that I used to grow my playlists more than 100 new followers every day).
- Get Paid To Receive Submissions From Artists & Labels. (There are a handful of different marketplaces where you can list yourself as a playlist curator.)
- Manage Your Playlists & Keep Your Listeners Engaged.