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17th August, 2022

​​How to Get on Top of the Spotify Algorithm

In many ways, Spotify has changed the way the music industry works and revolutionised the opportunities available for young and up and coming DJs. As a consumer, Spotify is a wonderful resource for finding new music, discovering new artists and searching for tracks that are similar to those you listen to and love.

As an artist, it can be challenging to get traction with your music on Spotify. Unless you’re a household name already, your DJ tracks and musical creations will be subjected to Spotify’s algorithm. What does this mean? It basically means that to get your work in front of more listeners requires you to be on top of the Spotify algorithm.

How do you do that exactly? Let’s break down everything you need to know about Spotify and its artificially intelligent algorithm here.

How Does the Algorithm Work?

Anyone who has used Spotify before will recognise its signature feature of music (and now podcast) recommendation based on your prior listening habits.

The home screen recommendation is run by an AI (artificially intelligent) system nicknamed BaRT. BaRT stands for Bandits for Recommendations as Treatment.

In practice, the BaRT system manifests itself in different rows of suggested playlists, each one categorised by its contents, style, or theme. 

To create these algorithmically informed playlists, BaRT uses a few highly sophisticated technological methods:

1. Natural Language Processing

This process might be the easiest one to understand. Using advanced algorithms, Spotify analyses the lyrics, language and the content of any given song or track and compares it with that of all of its other songs by which to classify it. On even its most basic level, this ensures that you’re suggested songs in the language that you speak and understand. But it can get a lot more sophisticated than that. 

2. Raw Audio Analyzation

This process goes one step further. The algorithm analyses the particular song in question to determine its audio style. Is it an upbeat song or is it a heavily mood song? Is it instrumental or mostly spoken word? By delving into the raw audio and all of its data, the Spotify algorithm is trying to categorise the song accordingly to ensure it can be recommended to listeners who like similar types of audio.

3. Collaborative Filtering

This is where the algorithm’s rubber meets the road. Spotify’s AI program compares new, suggested songs to what its listeners listen to regularly or have liked in the past. Using the data drawn from its language and raw audio analyses, it can best compare different tracks and determine which are similar enough to recommend in one of its playlists, such as Discover Weekly. There are millions of songs on Spotify, so you can only imagine just how complex, robust and sophisticated this process has to be.

​​How to get on top of the Spotify Algorithm

The algorithm is a computer program, just a highly sophisticated one. This means that once you begin to understand the factors that affect its calculations you can best gear your profile and tracks to take as much advantage as possible. 

Remember that BaRT matches the songs it has analysed with the following actions of its listeners:

  • The style, genre and general mood of a user’s past listens.
  • How often a song is skipped.
  • How long a song is listened to.
  • How often a song is included in a user’s playlist.

To help you get started with tackling the overwhelming behemoth that is the algorithm, here are some simple tips to focus on.

The 30 Second Rule

On Spotify, the first 30 seconds of your track are the most important. Songs and tracks that are listened to past the first 30 seconds, get a positive tick in the algorithm’s book. Even monetised tracks don’t earn a cent before the 30 second mark.

To ensure your music is algorithm friendly, consider what goes on in the first 30 seconds of your song. How can you hook the listener immediately so that they want to listen past the first half-minute and not skip? 

Drop Timing

Timing your music’s drop can make a huge difference. The initial rate of listeners, skip rates and number of listens on the first day of release are very important.

That’s why you need to build up hype with your followers prior to the release of a new track. Let them know when it’s dropping and help them anticipate it through your social media channels. The more you encourage them to listen to the track in the first 24 hours, the better the algorithm will view your music. 

Tip #1: Fridays are generally considered one of the better days on which to drop your music, not least because of the New Music Friday playlists on Spotify. 

Tip #2: You should also get a pre-save link for the release of your next track or song. It’s an easy way to create buzz and generate excitement, but more importantly to get instant streams when it does drop. Trust us, the algorithm on Spotify loves that.

Getting on Playlists

Whether it’s Discover Weekly or Release Radar, getting onto one of the Spotify playlists is a huge boon for not just your music but your ongoing algorithm status. Some playlists, such as Release Radar, are based on your Spotify followers. However, Discover Weekly for example is not. Try submitting your new music to playlist curators, or owners of music websites for inclusions in their edited playlists.

By successfully pitching your music to other playlist curators (the bigger the better), the more likely it is that the algorithm will pick up your tracks in their suggested playlists. 

Use Spotify for Artists

Make sure you’re registered and using Spotify for artists. Why? It allows you to tag your tracks so that both users and the algorithm can better identify the mood and genres of your music. A wrongfully tagged track can cause the wrong listeners to be giving your song a go which can increase the skip rate and make you fail the 30 Second Rule. 

The better your track is tagged, the more likely it will be found and listened to by the right users, which will make for better algorithm results. 

Set Your Profile Up

While it can be tempting to think that the algorithm only cares about your music, it’s not true. Make sure to spend time on your profile: users will, and so should you.

From the pictures you choose for yourself and your album art, to links to social media channels and upcoming events or gigs, there’s plenty of opportunity to curate a personal brand and better signal to followers and Spotify itself what you offer.

Social Media

Interestingly, the Spotify algorithm also favours profiles that plug other social media channels into their tracks. So, make sure you link and promote your Spotify profile across Facebook, Instagram, Tik Tok and all your other social media accounts. The more updated, comprehensive and consistent your social media presence, the better.

Regular Uploads

Spotify, in many ways, is a social media app in and of itself. And like all of the other channels out there, its algorithm rewards and encourages regular, consistent posting. While it takes a lot of work to produce creative and high quality music tracks at the pace required for regular posting, it’s certainly a best practice for beating the algorithm. 

Make Playlists

Making your own playlist as an artist will encourage followers to engage with you and follow you, further increasing your online reach. The Spotify algorithm offers a positive feedback loop so the more traction you get, the more traction you’ll be awarded with. Plus, when you create your own playlists, you can even put in a few of your own songs as well for further self-promotion but in a tasteful way.

Ask Fans to Follow You

This might seem obvious, but it’s not. It’s really important that you help fans do more than just find your Spotify profile. You need them to follow you, so actively ask them to! Whether it’s promoting yourself across other social media channels, or making an announcement at your gig,  the more followers you have the more the algorithm will promote your music and the higher the likelihood you’ll be included in their various suggested playlists.

Find Your Beat and Beat the Algorithm with DJ City

Getting started on your musical and DJing journey can be tough, especially when you’re trying to get on top of the all-powerful and semi-mysterious Spotify algorithm. If you need a hand or would just like to talk with a fellow DJ enthusiast, feel free to reach out to the DJ City team today!


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