Playlisting Tips for a Time When the Dance Party Has Moved Indoors

EDM is simultaneously one of the most popular genres of our time and one of the most difficult genres to gain recognition on playlists.

It has partially become synonymous with the wider genre of pop—but why do green and mid-level EDM artists have trouble getting their music placed on these lists?

The pandemic hasn’t had a significant impact on the streaming aspect of EDM music positively or negatively. But what can rising EDM artists be doing during this unique, prolonged moment?

Song Structure

It all starts with a song.

You want to make sure your track is DJ-friendly and therefore, dance-floor-friendly. Enticing your listeners early on is crucial, and while it’s smart to stick to the formula of intro, breakdown, build, and drop, your song might stand out if you mix these sections up in a unique way. You want the element of surprise coupled with the element of accessibility.

According to a recent study, 35.05% of listeners skip songs in the first 30 seconds, meaning you don’t get that (sick!) $0.004 payout, and it hurts you algorithmically. And while the increasingly truncated attention span of listeners is killing indie music, this is not necessarily bad news for EDM artists who tend to not have lengthy intros and whose music is written intentionally for immediate approval and adoption—delayed gratification be damned.

Whether you choose to write a unique, non-formulaic song or you choose to play it a bit safer, it’s important that the energy ebbs and flows in a sonically exciting manner, and that it is attention-grabby within the first 20 to 30 seconds to avoid the dreaded skip. Avoiding anything that can harm you algorithmically is important to maintaining and gaining listeners and for getting you gassed up for bigger playlists and eventually editorial.

Speaking of….

Don’t Count on Editorial

If you examine the percentage of EDM on the most recent New Music Friday lists, it’s not a huge piece of the pie.

In fact, it’s the sliveriest of slivers, averaging at about 0.037%.

According to Chartmetric, there are currently a total of 218,707 playlists that are geared towards EDM/Dance on the platform. 214,117 of those are user-generated.

That being said, it's absolutely prudent to continue to submit to editorial via the artist portal and when you do, be strategic with your efforts. Again, based off the Chartmetric analysis, the top two most followed Spotify workout playlists, "Motivation Mix" and "Workout," are made up of EDM and its sub-genres by the vast majority. Consider submitting to those over the all-too-tempting New Music Friday.

If you’re choosing between a few songs, choose the one that grabs listeners' attention the earliest. The quantity of submissions is overwhelming and you can’t count on Spotify curators to give songs more than a verse-chorus listen, if that. But make sure your energy spent on editorial is commensurate with the likelihood of your music actually getting placed on one of those elusive lists.

Hit Up Timely User-Generated and Branded Playlists

So now that you know there are over 200K user-generated EDM playlists, making up about 98% of the EDM playlists on the platform, what are you going to do about it?

Create a database for yourself of independent playlists and curators—archive their playlist name and link, what genres or moods you notice, and the contact info of the curator. You can first keep your research general—search for and reach out to third-party or user-generated playlists that sonically fit the mood, feel, and genre of your music.

Then pivot to more of a targeted approach by researching brands. EDM is obviously a very popular genre in the fitness world. Expand your database by creating a list of popular fitness brands (ex: SoulCycle, CycleBar, Exhale) and reaching out to their official playlists. If it’s difficult to get through, aim for more local or personal brands.

Moving to even more of a narrowly targeted focus, think about what playlists would be relevant for the current cultural, social, or political moment. For example, during COVID-19, at-home "quarantine workouts" have become increasingly popular. Search these types of playlists and pitch your music to them. Capitalize on the moment.

Let a Promotions Company Do the Work

If you’re thinking, "I’m too focused on writing, performing, managing, and booking myself to worry about playlists," there are plenty of companies that would love to do the heavy lifting for you. Be sure to choose an artist-focused, ethical company that has real relationships with real curators.

Here’s a guide to avoid the scammers.

This unique moment could actually be beneficial for EDM artists.

Be sure to write and produce songs that are unique yet accessible, and grab the listener’s attention early on so you can be algorithmically successful.

Just because EDM isn’t always a priority for Spotify editorial lists, there are plenty of thematically timely, impactful, branded, and user-generated playlists that would love to have you.