Red Flags to Watch For in Your Playlist Application

· 5 minute read

Playlists have become a cornerstone in the music industry, serving as a powerful tool for artists to gain exposure, attract new fans, and even monetize their work. With the rise of streaming platforms like Spotify, the role of playlists in shaping an artist's career has never been more significant. However, not all playlists are created equal, and the process of getting your music featured can be fraught with pitfalls. This blog post aims to guide musicians, artists, A&R professionals, labels, and other industry insiders through the red flags to watch for when submitting music to playlists.

Understanding the Basics of Playlist Submission

Before diving into the red flags to watch for, it's crucial to understand the basics of playlist submission and why it matters so much in today's music landscape. Playlists have become the modern-day radio for many listeners, offering a curated experience that can introduce them to new artists and genres. For musicians, landing a spot on a popular playlist can be a game-changer, driving streams, increasing fan engagement, and even boosting sales.

How Playlist Submission Works

The process of playlist submission varies depending on the platform and the curator. Some playlists are officially curated by streaming services like Spotify, while others are managed by independent curators or even fans. Typically, you'll need to find a submission form or contact information for the playlist curator, then send them your track along with any relevant information, such as a press release or artist bio. IsItAGoodPlaylist is a perfect companion to help you in this task, thanks to its database of millions of playlists with contact information.

The Importance of Research

Before you hit that 'submit' button, it's crucial to do your homework. Research the playlist to ensure it aligns with your music genre and style. Look into the track record of the curator to see if they have a history of promoting artists similar to you. The more targeted your submissions, the higher your chances of getting accepted.

The Role of Curators

Curators wield significant influence in the playlist selection process. They are the gatekeepers who decide which tracks make the cut and which don't. Understanding their preferences, past selections, and the general theme of the playlist can give you an edge in the submission process.

Red Flags in Playlist Curators

Once you've got a grasp on the basics of playlist submission, the next step is to scrutinize the playlist curators you're considering. Not all curators are equal, and some may even harm your career rather than help it. Here are some red flags to watch out for:

Lack of Transparency

Transparency is crucial when dealing with playlist curators. A legitimate curator will have a clear online presence, complete with a history of their playlists and possibly even testimonials from artists they've featured.

Red Flags:

  • No clear information about the curator.
  • Lack of a track record or history of playlist curation.
  • Absence of contact information or a way to verify their identity.

Pay-to-Play Schemes

While it may be tempting to pay for a guaranteed spot on a playlist, this practice is generally frowned upon in the industry and can even be illegal in some cases.

Red Flags:

  • Curators asking for money upfront.
  • Promises of guaranteed streams or engagement metrics.
  • Legal implications and potential damage to your reputation.

Inconsistency in Genre or Theme

A well-curated playlist will have a consistent theme or genre. This not only makes for a better listening experience but also ensures that your music reaches the right audience.

Red Flags:

  • A playlist that features a wide range of unrelated genres or styles.
  • Inconsistency in the quality of tracks featured.
  • A sudden change in the type of music being added to the playlist.

By paying attention to these red flags, you can better assess the legitimacy and quality of playlist curators, thereby improving your chances of making a successful submission.

Red Flags in Playlist Metrics

Metrics can provide valuable insights into the performance and reach of a playlist. However, not all metrics are as they seem, and some can be manipulated to give the illusion of a more popular or engaging playlist than is actually the case. Here are some red flags to watch for in playlist metrics:

Unnatural Growth Patterns

A successful playlist will generally show steady, organic growth over time. Sudden spikes in follower counts or play counts can be a sign of artificial manipulation.

Red Flags:

  • Sudden, unexplained spikes in follower counts or play counts.
  • A high follower count with very low engagement or play rates.
  • Signs of bot-generated plays or followers, such as generic usernames or lack of profile pictures.

Low Engagement Rates

While a high follower count may seem impressive at first glance, what really matters is how engaged those followers are. Low engagement can be a sign that the playlist isn't reaching a real or relevant audience.

Red Flags:

  • A low ratio of plays to followers, indicating that the playlist isn't actively engaged with.
  • Inconsistency between the reported metrics and the visible engagement on the playlist.

By being vigilant about these metrics-related red flags, you can better assess the value of a playlist placement and avoid falling into traps that could harm your career.

Red Flags in Communication and Professionalism

The way a playlist curator communicates can tell you a lot about their professionalism and the legitimacy of their operation. While everyone can have an off day, consistent issues in communication or behavior should raise red flags. Here are some aspects to consider:

Poor Communication

Clear and timely communication is a hallmark of professionalism in any industry, including music. When you're submitting your work for playlist consideration, you should expect a certain level of responsiveness and clarity.

Red Flags:

  • Delayed responses or complete lack of response to your submission or queries.
  • Vague or ambiguous answers that don't provide clear information.
  • Lack of clarity about the playlist selection process, including timelines and criteria.

Unprofessional Behavior or Presentation

The way a curator presents themselves, both in direct communication and online, can be indicative of their professionalism. Poor presentation can be a red flag that suggests your music may not be in the best hands.

Red Flags:

  • Poor grammar or spelling in communications or on their website/social media.
  • Lack of courtesy or professionalism in interactions, such as rude or dismissive behavior.
  • An unprofessional or poorly maintained website or social media presence, which may include outdated information, broken links, or a lack of relevant content.

By paying attention to these red flags in communication and professionalism, you can better gauge the quality and legitimacy of a playlist curator, thereby making more informed decisions about where to submit your music.


Navigating the world of playlist submissions can be a complex endeavor, but it's an essential part of modern music promotion. From understanding the basics of playlist submission to scrutinizing curators and metrics, due diligence is key. By being aware of the red flags outlined in this article, you can make more informed decisions that will help you avoid pitfalls and maximize your chances of success.

Remember, not all playlists are created equal. The quality of the curator, the legitimacy of the playlist's metrics, and the professionalism in communication all play a significant role in the value of a playlist placement. Use platforms like "IsItAGoodPlaylist" to further inform your decisions and find curators that align with your music and career goals.