Streaming isn’t just about getting on playlists anymore. Mike Warner, author of Work Hard Playlist Hard uncovers a multitude of different ways to increase your income from streaming platforms.
Mike has always loved music since he was little. He ended up getting into DJing as soon as he was legally allowed to enter a nightclub in Australia. He eventually got into music production, hosted podcasts and a local radio show. He had a music project called Date Night and released his music independently. The process was documented and that is included in the book.
His book originally came out in 2018 online and on paperbank in 2019. Mike was a speaker in my summit back in 2019. He has been updating things on the book since 2019 through questions he was getting about it and finally decided to launch the 2nd edition this year.
The biggest thing that changed since he first wrote the book is the saturation of playlists. In 2018, there were less playlists and less people trying to get on them. Now, playlist is the buzzword and people are all trying to get on it. Playlists are great and you will get on them eventually, but that can’t be your plan. You have to have other plans to get your music out there. Artists are sharing their music very differently nowadays. They’ve been sharing on TikTok, Twitch and other platforms. Not everyone is comfortable streaming for hours to their fans. You need to find what you are comfortable with. You may set up an account on most major social media accounts but you can find one that works best for you and that’s where you can pour most of your energy.
There are multiple platforms where people can find your music and listen aside from Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music. Platforms in other countries that are just as successful or have more subscribers or listeners such as JioSaavn in India, Anghami in the Middle East, and Deezer. You can create an account on each of them and again, you can focus on one which you are most comfortable with.
What I advise most of the time is to have your music all in one place, example Spotify. Decide which photos you want to highlight and do it all in one platform. I am all for outsourcing. You can have a college student or somebody else update it for you.
There are a lot of platforms that you can choose from but here are some that are worth mentioning:
The Pandora platform is only available in the US as of this time, but people from anywhere in the world can create an account on there for their online presence.
2. Amazon Music
If people follow you on Amazon Music, they can click a link on Twitch and they’ll get connected.
3. Apple Music for Artists
They’ve stepped it up and have a lot of new features which show you which playlists you’ve been added to, how many listeners you have, stream count, and a cool feature is an interactive map that will show you how many people are listening in an exact location, how many streams and which songs. Artists can use the map to choose songs in a small venue or get radio guestings.
QR Codes are also one cool way to follow an artist. When you have a conversation with somebody, you can just allow them to scan your QR Code to follow you and check out your music.
What has changed with playlists since Mike Warner’s first book in 2018? Previously, there were very small types of playlists. It was very much editorial. People who work in streaming platforms curate those playlists. Some people who have subscriptions with that streaming platforms create those playlists. Eventually, there became personalized editorial playlists also called algo-playlists. It will show as created by Spotify but it will serve a completely different set of music based on the listener, depending not on genre but on a person’s listening habits. Playlists now feel overwhelming for curators. Be careful and do a little research first. Make it more personalized and focused.
What can we control in terms of getting on playlists? If you submitted the form to Spotify editorial, another thing you can do is send to Amazon Music, Pandora and the other platforms.
Can you really influence who the algorithm associates you with? Usually the first 1000 listeners for a new project or a new artist determine where they get placed. Children’s music as well as holiday music is pushed differently since those kinds of music are not pushed to people all year round.
For Pandora, playlists really depend on mood level. The best thing was their feature where you can ask it to play for example, Sara Bareilles radio, and it will play all these artists. It was very innovative back then.
Spotify has a lot of new features that you can use for sharing or celebrating your milestones. There’s a trend where a lot of these streaming platforms are getting inspiration from each other.
Is there any difference in distributors or are they pretty much the same? For the most part, distributors are the same. If you are with a distributor, if you are missing something, ask. For example, you can ask Distrokid to distribute your song to other stuff by opting into it. Some other distributors will ask you to pay and it will provide a higher level of service for you. There will always be perks that they can offer.
His book is available in different formats — paperback, Kindle, audiobook. It can also be ordered online.
Links mentioned in this episode: